Kurt Cobain, The Beatles and Michael Jackson: Bad Musician Statues
A humorous petition has suggested that Outkast's Andre 3000 and Big Boi be carved into Georgia's historic Stone Mountain, a monument near Atlanta that's drawn controversy for its homage to the Confederacy in the form of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson in Mt. Rushmore-style. Our official stance at Music Times is that the ATLiens riding in a Cadillac on the side of the mountain wouldn't hurt. And, even if it does border on the absurd, it wouldn't be the worst statue of a musician to be erected. Alas, The Beatles, Kurt Cobain and Michael Jackson (especially Michael Jackson) have been subjected to attempted memorials that fall way short of tastefulness.
Much was made of musician statues last year when Aberdeen, WA—the hometown of iconic rocker and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain—unveiled a statue of its hometown son. Cobain wasn't noted for loving his hometown, and his feelings probably would have been exaggerated if he got the chance to see this thing. The art installation, which looks admittedly realistic, features Cobain playing an acoustic guitar...while one tear rolls down his face. It'd be easy to say that the dreadful concept for this statue was an innocent, misguided mistake...attempting to portray Cobain as the depressed, troubled star we never knew him as in life. Except that Aberdeen is notorious for trying to turn a profit off of its role in Cobain's life, however negative. Bill Simpson, the mayor, even said prior to the unveiling that "we hope this is as big as Graceland, eventually." The town has also added the phrase "come as you are" to its official "welcome" signs, displaying an attitude Cobain never found while he lived there.
Admittedly, if we were Liverpool, we would capitalize on its being the hometown of The Beatles as much as possible. Perhaps the cornerstone of this movement is the Hard Day's Night Hotel, opened during 2008 and located in the city's downtown. This post won't try to badmouth the hotel: Despite the somewhat hokey concept of building a hotel themed around one band, the 110-room overnighter is well-regarded, gathering four stars and being noted for its respective Lennon and McCartney suites. There's only one aspect of the design that really gives it a black eye—as you might have guessed, based on the theme of this list, it's the statuary. We'd be okay with plain ol' statues of the band, outside the restaurant, or maybe in the lobby...but surrounding the building, two stories above the street below? John, Paul, George and Ringo all look happy, but their placement makes each look as if they're considering jumping into the traffic below.
Michael Jackson was not known for doing anything on a small scale. Just look at every album from Thriller on, as well as his palatial estate at Neverland. His 1995 album HIStory takes the cake however, both in terms of the personnel and production demands as well as promotion. The front of the album featured what looked like a large, concrete statue of the performer, staring with blank eyes into the sunset, fists clenched, and what look to be ammo belts crossing his chest. The thing is, this wasn't an artist's representation at all...that's a real statue. And this wasn't something small, angled to make it appear monumental. We're talking about a 30 ft.-high piece of art here. And then he had nearly a dozen made and spread around Europe to promote his forthcoming album and its tour. It's ambitious but...dang. That's not the Michael Jackson that anybody wants to remember. Most were removed after a few months, but one still remains in Best, the Netherlands, if you're hellbent on checking it out.
Michael Jackson Again
Michael Jackson not only has a statue problem, he's got a statue problem in Europe. Music fans the world over were distraught upon his death during 2009, and some reacted more reasonably than others. Mohamed Al-Fayed—a wealthy businessman, friend of Jackson, and owner of the Fulham Football Club near London—commissioned a 7.5 foot statue (13 feet when on its pedestal) of the performer to stand outside of the team's stadium. Fans hated it for various reasons. The first, and less relevant logic: Jackson, for all of his pop stardom, had little to do with London or soccer. The second, and believe-or-not more relevant reason was its ugliness. One trend we'll never jump on is painting statues to make them appear more lifelike. We like our Davids in their original white marble...not need to add skin tone or silver jackets. After he sold the team, the statue was removed...which Fayed alleges caused a "curse" to form, resulting in the team being dropped from the Premiere League. It now stands at the National Football Museum in Manchester.