Memory Motel: A Rock And Roll Fantasy, Part Five Section One: A Different Kind Of Aftermath
32 – The Rolling Stones Are Dead
Elijah was sitting on the porch just staring down the street not thinking of anything much, trying to keep the horrors at arm length. The settlement from the Stones estate meant he’d never really have to work and six months in a coma and 18 months of physical therapy and he could feel the old bounce in his step coming back except he didn’t want to bounce again and every time he opened his eyes all he could see was Kaisha, her entails slit open from a… what? an elbow rest unleashed like a shard, dead and then nothing. Elijah shouted “Me next God, me next” and went back to putting his soul into a higher power and when he opened his eyes again, he sure wished he had been next. Six months later, and he was alone.
Six months of very thorough mourning for the Stones. Tribute concerts and specials, testimonials, private burials and world watching funerals. The former rebels, the former bad boys, were treated like heads of State. The story had had everything you could want, maybe even more. Gods of rock on a final concert tour, die as one: up in flames they went. Was it terrorists? Pilot error? On that early May morning as word didn’t filter but flooded the world, it was too much: the world exploded in Stones.
This was the beginning of the end of social media, the outpouring of grief and also of a type of snooping, intrusive, worldwide cluster fucker was really quite one of a kind. Until we get a President assassinated in the modern age, this will do as a Worldwide story infecting every level of the world. As the airplane began its descents into the Colorado highs, before it had even hit the ground, an air traffic controller had tweeted #rollingstonesairplanemissing. It was just the first of a relentless barrage of information that would continue unceasingly till they were dead and buried. The thing is, this was the absolute end of the other greatest generation, and it had happened suddenly, and it happened from afar, and it took all four members in one fell swoop.
By the time it missed the mountain top and stopped, with by some miracle, it wasn’t the hand of God though Blue was nowhere to be found if anyone had gone looking for her, fire engines, ambulances, helicopters and more were rushing to the scene, cordoning it off, while, two helicopters from the local television stations collided and dropped adding more death and ruin to the scene.The area smelled like barbeque on a Sunday afternoon, and everybody around there, people who should’ve known better, were taking selfies, and pictures of every mangled, chewed up thing and body they could find. This was a big payday, no doubt at all. Like scavengers, like vultures, the area became a calliope of death. Everything up for grabs and everything instantaneously up for grabs.
The story was official within five minutes of the crash, when the aforementioned local TV news copter hovered above the wreckage feeling the burning plane, the only thing that people saw, the emblem of the story, was the remains of a giant tongue on a door.
The world begun to cut up the story: what happened? How? Who to? And then the tributes, it was the Rolling Stones, three fifths of the original band gone like that -gone that suddenly. Tickets to their now never to be used show slated for July 10th in Central Park were selling on EBay for $1500.
All News, all information. Terrorists? That was the first rumor, and it spread fast sparking another wave of anti-Islamic hatred. When that was put to bed came more rumors, mass suicide? Cocksucker Blues gone wrong? Murder? How could it happen. When the truth arrived, months later officially confirmed, it was a lazy engineer who failed to check out a burnt out something or other. Nothing interesting at all, really. Though they kept it live for long enough that a “How It Happened: The Rolling Stones Last Hours” became a bestseller and a Netflix documentary.
But that wasn’t much or even most of the story. For an entire generation of people everywhere, the Rolling Stones were iconic and for the rest of the world, they were much better known than they realized. Between the two, the story had every frisson you could want and if that wasn’t enough, it also had a great great soundtrack. And so world grieved and sneered, fought and disagreed, and paid tribute. No Stone left unturned.
Somewhere within that first week that was a genuine sorrow, how could the embodiment of youth, sex, the random crazed world of excess and success grow so old and end so suddenly. To claim rock and roll died might have been 30 years too late but that is what it felt like and whatever was left wasn’t quite as good: the world had become straighter, ,more serious, less thrilling, less delivering. When Presley brought rock and roll to the mainstream back in 1956, he brought with a dream of youth and freedom with no world wars to die for, with affluence a gimme, teenagers let their hair down and moved their hips, girl reveled in their sexuality and boys became girls playthings and objects of desire and decades later, the world was different. Between STDs and EDMs, that roar of freedom became something else, and whatever second generation rockers like the Stones had added, sexual ambiguity, evil, the right and the wrong of a rhythm section, were over with and this was the funeral, up in smoke, completed and away. No, you can’t be young at 80. No, what the Millenniums have doesn’t compare with their Grandparents. It was over, and what was less wasn’t as good, wasn’t as free, wasn’t that whatever it had been. The 60s, the Greatest Generation, greater than the 1940s, because it was greater to live free then to die freeing, because everything the world had fought two wars for, for the freedom of us all, had come true at last. And there was the Stones, born in the rubble of post-Battle Of Britain London, emerged out of the ashes, the bombed out homes, the dead teenage men of two world wars, to lay down their guns and pick up their guitars and swing free. And then, 80 years later, they have laid down the guitars that freed them and returned to the ashes from where they were born.
Overkill? Within 24 hours people were sick of it but the story was relentless: all those deaths, all those tears, all these stories and at the top of the funeral pyre Mick and Keith: it wasn’t enough to claim that nothing became them like the leaving, that didn’t say it well enough, it was more than that. It was the zenith of cultural zeitgeist etcetraism. It had everything and maybe more. Everyone from bloggers to network television , social media players, 24/7 news teams: all day and all night for two weeks. The families, the ones that loved the four old men, and the ones that loved the thirty other people on the 747, could not be left in peace, could not be left alone for a moment. For one brief moment the Stones fame fanned out and touched everybody that came close to it. There was Karolina Woods, clutching her stomach and crying uncontrollably, here was an ex-girlfriend of Mick’s discussing his stamina, there was family trees broken trees, wills discussed, the two remaining real Stones Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor, to tour. Adam Lambert to sing lead. Rumors, everywhere rumors. Here was a documentary ten hour movie about the Rolling Stones. Every album being re-released. An action movie, perhaps Marvel Comics can make them into superstars? A Netflix series, no HBO, no both.