Economics

Be A (Red Hot Chili) Pepper!

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Via the Wash Times, the AP notes that the outfit called Authentic Hendrix, which controls the corpse (er, estate) of Jimi Hendrix has licensed a new, non-alcoholic beverage called "Liquid Experience" (now with no choke-inducing vomit!), a nod to the watershed album Are You Experienced?

Doesn't Liquid Experience sure sound tasty? I bet it will go just great with the doubtlessly forthcoming "Voodo Chili." This isn't the first time that the Hendrix persona has been used to pitch product. Reports the AP:

The image of Mr. Hendrix, who died in 1970 from a drug overdose in London, has been licensed for products including baby clothing, an air freshener, a lava lamp and a Christmas ornament. Portions of royalties have gone to several educational causes, including the United Negro College Fund.

And this time around, Authentic Hendrix–not to be confused with Ersatz Noel Redding–will "honor Mr. Hendrix's memory by donating some of the profit from the Liquid Experience to an unidentified music-education foundation."

Yet some rockers are acting pissy, and not just because they've guzzled too much Liquid Experience. Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers channels Doors drummer John Densmore and moans:

"To see his image and the beautiful feelings it has created during my lifetime cheapened by base advertising … is very disappointing to me."

Because, you know, it's totally different, man, when you're merely exhorting kids to play "rock 'n' roll tennis" to an unidentified riff, as Flea and Anthony Kiedis did back when Andre Agassi had enough hair (and mousse) to sport a mullet. To wit:

Whole account here. True, true, there's nothing worse than commercialism creeping into an art form that is so pure and clean and decommodified that the music is always given away as free as the clap at a backstage party. Pace Flea (who I interviewed way back when The Uplift Mofo Party Plan lp was released, whose persona I like, and whose band I like too) and Walter Benjamin, one of the truly great things about rock and commercial culture in general is the endless appropriation, reappropriation, and misappropriation it allows and even encourages. Read about that here

A while back, Brian Doherty took a long and winding look at the "Strange Politics of Millionaire Rock Stars" and realized that the rich–at least the rich in rock 'n' roll–are very different from you and me; they're even dumber.

Read all about it here.

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  1. Calling a band a sellout usually marks one as an asshat music snob, but in the case of the Chili Peppers – if the shoe fits…

    These guys have a song on just about every crappy movie soundtrack in the past 15 years. Are you telling me The Coneheads video for Soul To Squeeze was a testament to artistic integrity?

  2. Nice jab Nick.

    It constantly amuses me when forwarding through the commercials that nearly every old time rock band that would never sell out has done exactly that. About the only soundtrack they’ve passed on is for Depends commercials. And dimes to donuts, it IS coming.

  3. Hendrix was often great Red House was a fab blues number (although Buddy Guy’s cover is the hot ticket). But, beautiful feelings? Come on Flea, I was alive when Hendrix was at his peak, beautiful feelings isn’t what that was about. It was hard driving acid rock and it wasn’t what you played to get your sweet little barefoot hippie girl in the mood. Well, maybe sometimes, but usually not.

    More than likely you were gonna hear Hendrix at a loud party where the walls were breathing and the police had already been called out twice. Maybe at Dana’s penthouse in Belmont Shore. 🙂

  4. Ok, rock starts are hypocrites. But let’s not pretend that there it’s stupid to object to some music being repackaged for television commercials.

  5. Back to Hendrix, there is something a little weird about a living person’s ability to “own” a dead person.

    On one hand, you could make the case that since Hendrix can’t consent or be compensated for his image being used in advertising, you shouldn’t be allowed to do it.

    On the other, you could make the case that since Hendrix can’t be injured or suffer damages, we should all be allowed to use his image however we see fit.

  6. I guess I’m a music snob, because on the face of it, putting Hendrix on a bottle of pop is pretty fucking cheesy. And anyone who buys that drink is pissing on the man.

    Besides, who are they trying to fucking kid with the term “liquid experience”? Unless they’re putting LSD in that bitch, what’s the point? OOOOOOOOOHHHHHH! Corn syrup! I’m PEAKING, MAN!!!

    I visited Universal Studios in Florida a couple years ago, and was completely flummoxed seeing a fucking Bob Marley CHAIN RESTAURANT! What the fuck? Gimme some of that Trenchtown burger, mon! Praise Jah and do ya want curly fries wid dat?

  7. Support superior art by consuming free music.

    http://www.farceswannamo.com

  8. “To see his image and the beautiful feelings it has created during my lifetime cheapened by base advertising … is very disappointing to me,” said bassist Michael Balzary, better known as Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. “Oh, and buy our latest CD on Warner Bros records,” he added.

  9. perhaps Flea is tacitly admitting that while Jimi is a artist, or artiste, whose music is sacred and shouldn’t be sullied by crass commercialism, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are only in it for the money.

    on the other hand, not every feeling one has or admits to having has to be concordant with one’s actions or philosophy.

  10. Support superior art by consuming free music.

    In other words: music that can’t sell.

  11. Hmmm….criticising dumb millionaire rock stars for speaking out against their corporate masters…then criticising the corporate masters for trying to control the revenue stream with Digital Rights Management.

    Get off the fence, Reason writers….do your hate or love Sony, Disney et al for the ridiculous system they’ve created?

    Dumb rock stars are probably not that dumb but they ARE largely a symptom of a shortsighted industry. Maybe they rage against the record companies because – although they may be millionaires(and not all of them are. Just ask Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls) – they make a teeny tiny percentage of the record sales and they get billed back for concert fees.

    By the time they realize how bad they’re getting screwed, they’re locked into 2 more albums of multi-album deal. No wonder they’re anti-corporate.

  12. You guys are pretty harsh – just because Flea is not 100% artisticly pure himself doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a valid point about the way our society cheapens our artists by turning them into a means to sell crap that otherwise nobody would want.

  13. Every gimmick hungry yob digging gold from rock and roll
    Will grab the mike to tell you he’ll die before he’s sold
    But I believe in this and it’s been tested by research
    That he who fucks nuns will later join the church

  14. Dumb rock stars are probably not that dumb but they ARE largely a symptom of a shortsighted industry

    Ha ha ha! Blame the “suits”, not the dopes who are apparently forced to sign ruinous contracts. That mantra is a record that skips endlessly. Lift the needle, please.

    No wonder they’re anti-corporate.

    Speak for yourself. Smart bands make money. Just like smart people. Dopes feel used and abused and blame the man. Again: broken record.

  15. In other words: music that can’t sell.

    I prefer to think of it as “music that has not been specially designed to sell.”

    But, really, if you enjoy the spending experience then go to:

    http://cdbaby.com/cd/farceswannamo

    Each cd is $13.13; I chose the price based on the address of TV’s “The Munsters.” Quantity discounts, too. Just understand that I was not thinking about these things when I composed the songs.

  16. “In other words: music that can’t sell…”

    “…to a mass of people who view music as accompaniment at the mall and background to car commercials.”

    Ya gotta get the whole quote, man!

  17. I’ve always wondered why the Red Hot Chili Peppers didn’t market their own line of salsas and hot suaces.

  18. I should also note that Hendrix had the decency to die a tragic rock’n’roll death before he was able to fully cash in. Flea, on the other hand, has to keep his business going. Man’s gotta eat.

  19. For the longest time, I was able to maintain that Pearl Jam was the only band to never sell out.

    Then I heard “Comeback” in the background of one of those dumbass crime shows on network TV.

    I cried myself to sleep that night…

  20. Even if Flea is being a hypocrite it doesn’t mean he isn’t right.

    Using a dead rock star’s likeness to sell a drink loosely named off of one of his albums is a cheap, crass cash-in. It’s not even as if his estate aimed for some type of limited edition, high-end attempt at making money that could legitimately be viewed as a tribute. (for example, a guitar)

    Flea is a douche, but he’s not wrong about this.

  21. Mr Nice Guy, maybe they should bottle something else and call it….Kiss The Sky.

    Here all week.

  22. BTW, you know Baby Boomers rule the world because all the muzak is old rock songs from the ’60’s and 70’s. Which, is better than the old days when all the muzak was early 1950’s adult pop stuff.

  23. That Densmore article is barely coherent. I liked the Doors’ non-licensing stance far more when I didn’t know it was due to Densmore’s mish-mash of lefty/populist rantings. Maybe acid really does have longterm side effects.

  24. And here I thought Hendrix’ reputation was tarnished by the endless stream of questionable greatest hits discs and dubious quality ‘lost recordings’ and live shows that his family has been dumping on the public for all these years. Not to mention the crappy tie-died tapestries and t-shirts and other crap with his mug on it. No, it’s this crappy beverage that did it. Right on, man!

  25. This is oooouuuuurrr country…

  26. Flea is a douche

    There’s a marketers dream. Massingill’s BloodSugarSexDouche. It will leave you feeling clean, fresh, and confident. Without the funk. (End with Flea playing a bouncy bass riff and a close up of his stupid grin.)

  27. Xaaba Zu:

    There’s a fine distinction: When you buy a crappy t-shirt, you buy Hendrix himself (his image), when you buy a redundant greatest hits, you buy Hendrix himself (his music), but when you buy a drink with his name on it, you buy Hendrix purely as a marketing vehicle. Hendrix never drank the stuff, never even saw the stuff, and didn’t even inspire it. The link is purely marketing.

  28. Hendrix is the Che of music. Stick his face on anything and suckers will pay good money for it. More power to whoever’s cashing in.

  29. Lock Flea up in the same cell with Bono. Their time as rock’n’rollers is up.

    This Hendrix crap falls under the category of garbage that I won’t buy, so I don’t care what they do with his image. His music is his music. His face, his name – meaningless.

  30. From Brian Doherty’s 2000 article:

    “This nearly ubiquitous connection [between rock music and leftism] is, to put it mildly, rather strange. Pop music-especially that expansive, vague subcategory known as rock-is universally recognized as the soundtrack of rebellion, whether the authority in question is Daddy taking the T-bird away or the Soviet Union.”

    Let’s see if I can advance an hypothesis to explain the apparent paradox.

    We can grant that rock music is about rebelling against Daddy. In the Communist bloc, the omnicompetent paternalistic state was Daddy, hence the appeal of rock to those opposing the state. So far, so libertarian.

    In the West, with its comparatively greater freedom, the state is not daddy to your typical bored middle-class youth. Daddy is Daddy. Given that the family is one of the best mediating institutions between the individual and the state, rebelling against your real Daddy can be objective pro-big-government.

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