Monday, March 19, 2018

Rock stars and their shoes

The term fetish is too easily misused today, and is frequently associated with celebrities who collect lots of shoes, and there are a few of them. One of the trappings of affluence is accumulation of material items which becomes meaningless. Just ask Elton John or Oprey Winfrey, both have auctioned off their old gear, including hundreds of pairs of shoes.

Restifism (shoe fetish) means you would need to have sex with the shoe and there are not too many musicians willing to admit to that. Like all performers, musicians are a superstitious bunch and have favorite shoes they wear for special occasions like at recording studios or live performances.

Brain May of Queen, for instance always wears clogs on stage. Many musos put their right shoe on first for good luck. Just in the same way we all have a right and wrong side of the bed. This relates to human beings trying to control the fortunes of destiny. Shoes are a special type of costume which is often chosen to complete an outfit. That means there is a lot more conscious effort goes into what kind of shoes we wear. Men dress to comply with an image whereas women dress to complement their personality. Rock stars are no different.

If there was ever an item of clothing which epitomized the style and fashion of an era it would have to be shoes (or their absence). Take yourself into any cd/record store and you can pick up a dozen covers of compilation hits and three quarters of them will depict fashionable shoes of the time.

What is more these are instantly recognizable and to all generations.

Billy Joel captures this sentiment in the lyrics of his pop song, "It's still rock and roll to me."

“How about a pair of pink sidewinders (sandals)
And a bright orange pair of pants?
You could really be a Beau Brummel baby
If you just give it half a chance.
Don't waste your money on a new set of speakers,
You get more mileage from a cheap pair of sneakers."
Next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways
It's still rock and roll to me.

It's still rock and roll to me
Billy Joel

Musos can get typecast with a particular shoe style, so EmInem would look a lot less cool to his crew, dressed in disco platforms, and the thought of Cliff Richard on stage wearing thrasher Vans, is almost unthinkable. Many pop stars have personalized their shoes.

The Bay City Rollers for example had their initials on their boots for all to see. The UK duo Bros, in the eighties, wore beer bottle tops on their trainers.

Chubby Checker wore basket weave shoes and Joe Cocker sported a cracking pair of cowboy boots with stars, on stage, at Woodstock.

Shoe designers and rock costumiers love ambiguity, something shared with musical performers like David Bowie.

In the 70s androgenous rock, Bowie (aka Ziggy Stardust) wore platform boots to heighten the small performer on stage, the elfin, Electric Warrior, Marc Bolan meantime sported heelless pumps.

Height challenged Elton John found the fashionable platforms useful to extend his reach over the piano. Front men and solo performers tend to be better dressed with drummers (precisionists) scruffier than most. Lead guitarists are creative and in touch with their female side so veered towards stylish sneakers or casual fashion. Bass men, are pretty conservative and preferred better quality shoes.

Rappers wear designer trainers; new era grunge prefer thrasher (Sk8er) shoes; and Neo-punk go solid for the old Doc Martens.

West Coast music outfits into niche Country and Western rock wear boots in keeping with their cowboy machismo.

Reviewed 29/01/2016

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