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The Lifestyle of a Rock Star
Interviewer: Around the world young people are spending unbelievable sums of money to listen to rock music. “Forbes Magazine” claims that at least fifty rock stars have incomes of between two million and six million dollars per year. Today we’ll discuss the lifestyle of rock stars with the person who knows all about it, MTV producer Jack Jackson.
Jack Jackson: “It doesn’t make sense,” says Johnny Mathis, one of the older music millionaires, who made a million dollars a year when he was most popular, in the 1950s. “Performers aren’t worth this kind of money. In fact, nobody is.” But the rock stars’ admirers seem to disagree. Those who love rock music spend about two billion dollars a year for records. They pay 150 million to see rock stars in person.
Interviewer: Some observers think the customers are buying more than music.
Jack Jackson: Absolutely. Rock music has a special appeal because no real training is needed to produce it. There is no gulf between the audience and the performer. Every boy and girl in the audience thinks, “I could sing like that.” So rock has become a new kind of religion, a new form of worship. Young people are glad to pay to worship a rock star because it is a way of worshipping themselves.
Interviewer: Luck is a key word for explaining the success of many. In 1972 one of the luckiest was Don McLean, who wrote and sang “American Pie.” Mc Lean earned more than a million dollars from recordings of “American Pie.”
Jack Jackson: Well, records provide only part of a star’s income. Around the world young listeners soon want to see the star in movies, on television, and in person.
Neil Young, who performs in torn blue jeans, sometimes sings to an audience of 10,000, each of whom has paid at least fifteen dollars for a ticket. After paying expenses, Young leaves with about $120,000 in his pocket at the end of an evening.
Interviewer: How do the rock stars use their money? What do they do when the money starts pouring in like water?
Jack Jackson: Most young stars simply throw their money around. England’s Elton John gave someone a $38,000 Rolls-Royce automobile and bought himself a $5,000 pair of eyeglasses that light up and spell E-L-TO-N. He also bought himself two cars, “one for each foot.” In the end, a rock star’s life is unrewarding. After two or three years riches and fame are gone. Left with his memories, and his tax problems, the lonely ex-performer spends his remaining years trying to impress strangers. New stars have arrived to take his place.