Mama, I wanna sing
First River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves, now Johnny Depp wants to be a rock god. Why isn't being a film star enough? Ryan Gilbey reports
Monday 10 April 1995
Acting genius never translates into musical prowess. Anyone who heard the dire, sub-folk contribution that the late River Phoenix made to the animal rights album Tame Yourself can testify to that.
His enthusiasm was exceeded only by his pretentiousness. Here he is on popular music: "I liked the Smiths, before they got self-indulgent." And this from a man who wrote a song called "Aleka Dozy Encircles".
And here he is revealing the story behind the name of his band, Aleka's Attic: "Aleka is a poet philosopher. The attic is a meeting place where he has a secret society. They come and visit him and read his works. He then dies and (they) continue the readings of his works, and from that learn ... new passion for life. And they express it through music and form a band." Couldn't they just have consigned their passion to a wad of A4 in a bottom drawer like the rest of us?
What could have persuaded Phoenix to pursue a professional career in music? Clearly his motivation was neither money, nor recognition per se: Hard Rock Caf waiters the world over dream of the kind of acting success he achieved.
But despite being besieged by worshipping fans, he remained one crucial step behind his friends Michael Stipe, the Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes and Red Hot Chilli Peppers' bassist Flea, in the search for artistic credibility. Every teenager wants to be a rock star. If you had a record player, a full-length mirror and parents who popped out on a Saturday afternoon, you'll remember the fizz in your head from miming to whichever 7-inch you'd nicked from the Woolworth's bargain bin.
That feeling doesn't necessarily come from film acting which, for Phoenix at least, could be a cold, lonely experience - no applause, no instant gratification. Where better to find such luxuries than behind a microphone, with the weight of a guitar on your body? Even when Island Records, who had given Aleka Attic an open-ended deal, declined to release their album, Phoenix put out a self-financed CD.
You'd think this tale of woe would dissuade Depp, who's already seen how sordid the pop world can be - after all, he appeared last year (with Shane MacGowan) on Top of the Pops. Perhaps he's trying to match rival babe Keanu Reeves, blow for blow. Reeves, who's another friend of Flea's, plays bass in a punk-grunge-thrash-metal outfit called Dog Star. They've been on British TV a few times, though you may have mistaken their music for the sound of gremlins in the central heating. The only thing listed under "relevant experience" on Depp's CV is "mates with Flea". Do you see a pattern emerging here?
There's no doubt that these aspiring rock gods - others include Bruce Willis, David Hasselhof and Kim Basinger - are taking themselves far too seriously. British actors have got the right idea. When they meddle with music, they're only having a lark: Oliver Reed bulldozing through "Wild Thing" or fouling up the sound track to Tommy; Rupert Everett simpering through "Generations of Loneliness".
P will be touring this year, by which time an album should be with us. If the staff at Notting Hill's Record & Tape Exchange have got any sense, they'll already be clearing the shelves in preparation for its arrival.
Life & Style blogs
Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
Victoria Beckham's clothing sales double to £30 million in one year
GTA 5: Christmas arrives in Los Santos as update brings snowball fights, festive jumpers and a homing missile launcher
'Tis the season!: Google celebrates Christmas Eve with second animated Doodle
Christmas 2014: Jesus was not born in a stable, says theologian
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...