Saturday, February 27, 2010

Eric Clapton - When Good Guitarists Sell Out‏

by Brent Warnken

There's an old myth in rock and roll - and in all art, really - that you don't have credibility if the money is more important to you than the art.

Now, there's plenty of artists that have managed to keep people guessing about which they love more. But for most artists, and especially in rock and roll, "purity" isn't highly prized. They have to pay for those beachfront homes somehow, after all.

Eric Clapton is the latest casualty of the sell-out wars, with the blogosphere chattering about whether agreeing to appear in a commercial for T-Mobile's new myTouch - which features a wood grain "guitar" design and comes uploaded with several of the classic rock guitarist's songs - is actually selling out. It's just one commercial, after all, and behind the man is a trail of some of the greatest blues and guitar rock ever recorded. It isn't as if Clapton is pimping his own fragrances and selling commemorative plates on late-night TV. Like him or leave him, but Slow Hand is still dedicated to his music. Eric Clapton tickets are still available on StubHub.

And besides, there are artists who have made more blatant shills. Let's walk through a gallery of those who sold their souls.

Bob Dylan: Yeah, it's hard to lob mud at one of the greatest singer-songwriter's of the '60s. But by 2004, the times that once were-ah changin' had done changed. Dylan appeared in a Victoria's Secret ad featuring skimpy lingerie, pouty models, and his stony visage. Did it sell underwear? We're not sure. But it certainly fulfilled a prediction Dylan made as a young artist: When asked what he might be willing to sell out for, he replied "Ladies undergarments."

You have to pick and choose your battles, Bob. And you won that one.

John Lydon: How much more punk can you get than Johnny Rotten? Depends on when you're talking about. Circa 1977, Rotten probably personified punk for the mainstream more than anyone else (even if there were other artists that were more talented and, indeed, more punk). But by the '00s, Lydon was pretty comfortable with paying his bills using Country Life Butter's money. In a commercial that shatters all your illusions, you get to see Lydon in his terrycloth robe spreading delicious butter on his toast. Never mind the butter. If it funds a new Public Image Ltd. tour, then we'll support it.

Salvador Dali: Now, we're clearly straying away from the realm of rock here, but it's hard to mention shilling without bringing up Dali. Though Andy Warhol is often thought as being the ultimate artist willing to cash in, Dali did it first, and he did it quite a lot, appearing in commercials for steep fees. It's fairly excusable when you watch the commercials, which tend to all be pretty creative, and as ads go, pretty fun, too. We suspect he would have endorsed his own T-mobile phone with a melting clocks design.

This article is sponsored by StubHub. is a leader in the business of selling, sports tickets, concert tickets, theater tickets and special events tickets.

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