Where Have All Our Heroes Gone?: The Four Saddest Fallen Idols of Our Generation

When we're kids, we'll look anywhere for idols and role models. Most often, we look to pop culture and we find our heroes there by way of idolizing whoever's work we enjoy the most. We copy them in the worst ways. We adopt their style of dress, their opinions on music, their viewpoints on the world and humanity, even their politics (a sometimes dangerous form of political socialization).

Inevitably, we grow out of these things and develop our own sense of identity, but we never forget the great impact these minds once had upon our own. We look at these fellows with a certain reverence and nostalgia, connecting them by association with the glory days of our childhoods.

But oftentimes, we look back and we're left feeling betrayed, usually because we come to realize these idols we once loved were either never that great to begin with or have changed irrevocably into something we don't appreciate. We feel a sense of embarrassment and bewilderment at their actions in the present day and wonder how we could ever have come to worship them so when we were kids.

It goes without saying that this happens with musicians and sometimes, it happens really, really bad.

4. Billy Corgan

For those that came up in the grunge era, Billy Corgan and his band the Smashing Pumpkins were a welcome retreat from the aesthetic of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. For those that never felt like they fit in with that world, they gravitated to Corgan's shy and introspective reflection, rather than Cobain's screaming, disoriented way of lashing out at the world. Cobain and his followers took their pain and projected it outwards.

Corgan, on the other hand, took it all inside and expressed it as hurt rather than rage. If this sounds emo, it's because the Smashing Pumpkins did fit the emo scene (in its original form) a lot better than they fit the grunge scene which spun off from the meatheaded anger of metal and hardcore.

But we're decades beyond that. Cobain is dead, emotion is music is almost dead, and Corgan, having grown far too old for anyone to buy his pain anymore, has fallen off the horse and into some kind of deranged lunacy. He's become wildly self-indulgent, refusing to let his band die even as he is the sole original member left in it, even as he's burnt bridges with every former member.

He's burnt bridges, in fact, with a great deal of people and done so very publicly thanks to Twitter and his lack of a filter in interviews.

He started his own wrestling organization and he's writing an hours long concept album that has been released in spurts for three years and counting, never seeming to get any closer to the finish line. Everything he does is borne of egotism now it seems, but much of it reeks also of pure insanity, desperation, and bitterness at the world.

And ironically enough, he ended up dating Courtney Love.

3. Morrissey

It's exceedingly difficult for me to criticize Moz because I'm a biased party. He was and to a certain extent still is this for me. But he's done enough utterly ridiculous things in the last several years to land him squarely on this list. It may only be to an extent for me, but for many, Moz defines the label "fallen idol."

For the past several years, he's been intent on being a complete douche about everything under the sun, when he's not being a drama queen, from his extremist vegetarianism to his racist views of Chinese people spawned from his extremist vegetarianism, to the insane things he brags about turning down for one measly Smiths reunion (only requiring him to play with Johnny Marr, leaving out the others), to his relentlessly pretentious essays criticizing whomsoever he believes deserving of the wrath of his pen this week.

None of this should come as a surprise, of course. This is Morrissey we're talking about. He's been this way for as long as he's been alive. But he's over 50 now and it's much less endearing with each passing year. As he ages, it stinks more of the pathetic.

As his fans age, the wool falls from their eyes and they increasingly see a willfully unhappy man who lives a life where there's very little for him to complain about. And it may be funny for those of us willing to flap a hand and say, "Oh, Moz," but there's a certain element of sadness to it as well.

2. Dave Mustaine

Nobody else here has made so startling a change here as Mustaine. Mostly, those on this list have always been the way they've been, with the world itself or fans' perceptions the things changing. But Mustaine has transformed into a completely different person. It's disheartening really. It's like looking at those pictures tracking the steady decline of a meth addict, which, considering Mustaine has battled addiction in the past, probably isn't too far from the truth. He started off as an intelligent, well-spoken, and rocking dude who pretty much all metalheads looked up to, either in his time as the leader of their generation or in his later years as a sainted elder.

But Mustaine has apparently made it his life's goal to completely trash his reputation in a way unfamiliar to even Billy Corgan in its depths of depravity. Once known for penning articulate political anthems and covering the Democratic National Convention for MTV in 1992, now Mustaine spends his time being a complete and utter nutjob. Let's recap.

He's a birther and NWO believer, he believes President Obama operates FEMA death camps, he believes President Obama arranges for the deaths of American citizens to boost his poll numbers, he's a regular on the Alex Jones radio show, and he supported Rick Santorum for President for being ""kind of like a JFK kind of guy".

Aside from his deranged political statements, he also likes to constantly waffle on his relationship with Metallica, one day begging them to do a supergroup with him and the next saying he hates their guts. He's a lunatic, essentially, and it often makes it hard to even listen to his old music.

1. Steven Adler

Hoo boy. That meth addict analogy? It's just the plain truth in this case. Adler went from being a respected member of one of the biggest rock bands of all time, to having a complete inability to talk about anything but his latest opinion on Axl Rose which changes from week to week. I don't think Adler even lives anymore at this point for any reason than to discuss Axl Rose and subsequently claim that he's never going to discuss Axl Rose ever again.

At first, I found this pretty funny, noting that there were so many different interviews separated sometimes by only days where he could change his opinion so quickly and demonstrate such a lack of anything else interesting or important going on in his life other than waiting by the phone for Axl to call him.

But quickly, my heart started to sink any time I saw yet another of his loony tunes interviews about Axl. Seriously, can someone get this guy a life? Please?

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Corey Deiterman