WE ALL HAVE a little taste of classic deep down (way, way down) inside. Not always dying to get out, and maybe buried under six feet of culture and refinement, but it’s there. Lurking. The dirty deeds. The sweat leaf. The brown sugar. Helter with a dash of skelter. Baba if not O’Reilly.
And so as I wasted another afternoon clicking though baby pandas and trailer brawls and skateboarders eating shit, their testicles shattered on yet another unforgiving handrail, it occurred to me that every possible group and genre on the face of the earth has a signature meme kicking around the Internet.
Where’s the love for the leather pant and groupie van crowd? Why has the bloated rock opera and inept backstage fellatio niche been so woefully ignored? Is it intentional? Is it a liberal plot to destroy our freedoms, in particular the freedom to do massive bongers while playing the same power chord for six-to-ten hours through a Marshall stack so towering it causes the ears of every emo boy and jazz nerd within a twenty mile radius to bleed profusely?
You better believe it. If I’ve learned one thing in my life, it’s that if you sac up and bring the Noize, girls will eventually rock their Boyz.
But hey, enough of that casual misogyny. The hard truth is that Classic Rock may be the last truly inclusive segment of our culture. Not only do we all carry a sublimated Classic Rock name regardless of what music we listen to, we all deserve one. If only because classic rock is too inherently dumb to be freighted with any of the baggage or historical associations of other genres. But also because while not all music lovers would want to be the mad Roky Erikson or the dissipated Little Walter for a day, everyone wishes they could be Robert Plant, if only for the ability to straight-facedly screech a line like T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor I met a girl so fair, but Gollum and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her in front of 100,000 hopelessly stoned fans. Fantasizing about singing bone-stupid lyrics in pidgin Elvish with half a bottle of Romilar in your belly and wearing pants so tight that even the acid casualties huddled in the top row can tell if you’re circumcised or not is every American’s right! Who wouldn’t want a piece of that, even for an hour?
And while it was indeed Led Zeppelin’s legacy to steal just enough from Willie Dixon so that we didn’t realize that it was actually Robert Johnson we wanted to be all along, there’s no denying that anyone who cranks “Custard Pie” at Camaro-rattling volumes while flying down the highway on the way to a killer bonfire keg party, in the face of a wave of computer generated beats, musical puritanism, Auto-tune addiction, and smelly old-man disinterest, should be considered at least 72% a (jukebox) hero.
So what are the rules?
There are no rules in rock n roll, you prat!
Actually, there are.
The Rules: Match your first, middle, and last initial to the lists below. Compile all three, and then post your new unisex Rock God name on Facebook with this link to impress your friends, curate your groupies, and unleash your raging inner fretboard-kraken.
*all names and personas are unisex.
Use your FIRST initial to find your NEW first name:
A – Nigel
B – Vinnie
C – Nicklebag
D – C.C.
E – Le Trout
F – Groupie Van
G – Maxime
H – Harley
I – Massive
J – Pelvis
K – Uriah
L – Baronet
M – Nikki
N – Wheels
O – Sixkiller
P – Joe “Mama”
Q – Tennessee
R – Ginger
S – Boy
T – Ainsley
U – Echo
V – Izzy
X – Jimmie Ray
Y – Skimpton
Z – Marshall “Stack”
Use your MIDDLE initial to find your new LAST name:
A – Overdale
B – SlumVox
C – Peterson-Swallow
D – Stangray
E – Von Cravat
F – Darkmoore
G – Pendulust
H – Caligulatus
I – Merkin
J – Sustainable
K – Tossed-Salad
L – Lee Rose
M – Deepseed
N – St. Savage
O – Squall
P – Diamondblack
Q – Unguent
R – Vandrix
S – Revisited
T – Detergent
U – Codpiece Jr.
V – Blackgate
W – Nee Bechemel
X – Besser
Y – Van Park
Z – Zervenka
Use your LAST initial to find your new Rock Persona:
A – You are a lead singer. You once played in Pure Pure Candy, a Cleveland hair metal band best known for the single “We Came Down Hard Like Hard Metaphorical Rain (Oh, When We Came)”. You keep your spandex in a box in the garage, neatly folded next to your Big Muff distortion petal and a Mason jar full of groupie sweat.
Your Holy Grail Record: Nazareth – Razamanaz
B – You tear it up on the keyboards, piano, and key-tar. You once helmed the ivories for Ourobouros, an acid-fueled noise outfit with a rotating cast of vocalists whose album Sound Is Best Eaten Soundly hit #133 on the Greater Newark prog charts in 1971.
Your Holy Grail Record: Mountain – Nantucket Sleighride
C – There’s nothing better than practicing in the shed with the guys when it’s hot and sweaty and you’re two cases of beer in and someone just starts riffing and everyone takes turn finding the groove and no one cares if the tape’s running, and it can go on for hours, the mosquitoes buzzing in the humid summer night, the woods all around echoing with distorted sounds and the wail of your voice as you practically swallow the mic while screaming pure nonsense, each and every tortured yowl and vowel somehow a thing of perfection and beauty.
Your Holy Grail Record: Humble Pie – Rock On
D – Every morning you sit in your local cafe, drink six Americanos, and feverishly write lyrics in your moleskin notebook with a peacock quill and a jar of ink. You’ve created a poem cycle based on the life of Young Werther, a song cycle based on the life of Tony Danza, a rock opera based on the plight of the 13th century Palestinians, a linked short story collection based on the lives of each of the Stepford Wives who didn’t have speaking parts in the movie called The Silent Silence, and a spec script for a movie based on a dude in a black turtleneck and a pretty killer waxed beard who sits in a cafe all day thinking of sweet ideas for a spec script.
Your Holy Grail Record: T. Rex – Zinc Alloy & the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow
E – For centuries, your family has presided over the rarefied strata of London politics and wealth, not to mention the coke and club scene. You don’t actually play an instrument, you write melodies on napkins and then hire other people to perform them for a laugh. And 72% royalties. Half Tory/half Hellfire Club, your personality falls somewhere between snooty dance beats and pure debauchery, with a definite taste for the sullied and Germanic in all things. Your diplomatic visa was once revoked for groping Michael Schenker backstage at Live Aid.
Your Holy Grail Record: UFO – No Heavy Petting
F – You play a silver Les Paul and fling your guitar picks into the audience after extended mixolydian solos and diatonic Jack Daniels guzzling. You are short, absurdly skinny, and rock a mullet/mind-blowingly tight hair/pant combo. You also wear a keyboard scarf, a golden feather earring, and have a Rod Stewart “Maggie May” Belly Poster tattooed from your nipples to your waistline.
Your Holy Grail Record: Free – Fire and Water
G – “Never cross a G” goes a well-worn quote that has passed between the lips of many a Manchester promoter or Liverpool publicity agent. Untold staff meetings and record release parties have been ruined by various G’s with a sinus full of the powdery white stuff, who insist on trashing the craft services table because the kangaroo meat demanded on their rider was not, in fact, medium rare. You’ve got killer licks, but are definitely not to be trusted.
Your Holy Grail Record: Edgar Winter – Edgar Winter’s White Trash
H – You don’t even know was “colitas” is, let alone what it smells like warmly rising in the air. You dig Baja dirtweed and dirty hitchhikers and long rides down to Malibu in your vintage ’66 Corvette. You write jingles for commercials and cartoons and at parties get drunk and loudly admit you once tried out for the Monkees, getting bumped in favor of Charles Manson for the first round of call-backs.
Your Holy Grail Record: Joe Walsh – So What
I – Your ringtone is the first three verses of Don Felder’s “Heavy Metal.” Your favorite meal is a handful of Nugent-brand Cool Ranch Ostrich Jerky downed with a quad-shot energy drink. You think Slade is the most underrated band since Budgie. You think Yngwie is an excellent name for your Doberman, even if no one can pronounce it and are always like “Wait, what, it’s name is Freeway? Leeway? Ingot?” You still have the Moving Pictures coke mirror you won at the Dayton State Fair ring toss in 1985 and, you better believe it, baby, you still use it.
Your Holy Grail Record: Ten Years After – Shhh
J – For years you insisted people call you by your new self-selected nickname “Bob Dandy”, but for some reason it never caught on. You’ve written hundreds of unrecorded songs about waterfalls and the slums of Little Rock, not to mention the degree to which Wild Turkey tastes like “pure mother’s milk.” You more or less own the Thursday open mic at Jilly Rizzo’s, the fourth best bar in downtown East Fayetteville. Your upper-fret bottleneck slide work has variously been described as “almost competent”, “”sounding like a catheter being pulled from a bladder”, and “reason enough for us all to graduate beyond stringed instruments and embrace music that consists of random notes selected by an app that also balances your checkbook.”
Your Holy Grail Record: Black Oak Arkansas – Black Oak Arkansas
K – You wear platform shoes with a hollow plastic heel that contains six ounces of Johnny Cash’s morning breath. Not onstage, just around the house. While making a grilled cheese. If you had a wife, you’d dial up side two of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Some Enchanted Evening” while she was working the night shift, and model her cocktail dresses in front of the full-length mirror. But you don’t have a wife, so you pound a 12-pack of Dixie and model a yellow terrycloth robe in the reflection of the broken TV screen instead.
Your Holy Grail Record: Rick Derringer – Sweet Evil
L – Do you want to get down, get down? Yes, L, you certainly do. Because you’re a mad girl, a sad girl, such a dirty bad girl. Toot toot beep beep. Or wait, no, you’re a tall dude with a Sam Elliott mustache with a taste for exotic psychedelics, like ayahuasca and toad-licking, who also breeds speckled roans and bounces drunks from the local roadhouse on weekends before playing the midnight slot with your Americana jam band, Jungle Boogier.
Your Holy Grail Record: Foghat – Fool For The City
M – Hip Hop gives you a headache. Top Forty turns your blood thin and watery. You think the Beatles lacked a crucial edge. Soul has no soul. Classical is for fey Austrians. R&B stands for Randomly Boring. Jazz is the solace of math dorks and serial killers. No, it is only the pleasing crunch and invigorating choruses of Rock that unfurl the sails of your catamaran. A ship on which you sail away nightly, it is only setting a virgin course for the open sea that sets you free, sailing takes you away to where you never thought you could be.
Your Holy Grail Record: Billy Squier – Don’t Say No
N – Here is the set list from the last gig your band played at Ireland’s 32, San Francisco’s premiere Republican separatist dive, and an excellent place to get randomly stabbed: “Whiskey In The Jar”, “El Gallo Del Cielo”, “Hold Me Now”, “Vincent Black Lightning”, “The Metro”, “Long Black Veil”, and, of course, the everyone’s favorite make-out and prom slow dance Alexander the Great saga, “Bucephalus”.
Your Holy Grail Record: Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak
O – Your agent got you a tryout with the new lineup of King Crimson for the 21st Century Schizoid Man tour, but Robert Fripp thought you took yourself a little too seriously, and after you left said, “I bet that pussy wears round glasses, deconstructed Nehru jackets, and meditates with his guitar.” So, you went back to Akron and started your own band, Footstool and The Ottomans. Your first single, the rousing rocker “I Need To Touch Your Touch,” shot up the charts and eventually went puce.
Your Holy Grail Record: Arzachel – Arzachel
P – You’re quiet and just like to jam. You bring your guitar everywhere, even the bathroom. You’re fine to let the other guys talk at press conferences. You hate recording and sales and the media. You don’t like the obvious blondes, you want someone smart and quiet who likes to garden and sing on the porch with a jar of whiskey by their feet. You can take or leave the fame and royalties and Scottish castles. Your favorite Beatle is Pete Best. Pretty soon you’re going to quit the whole touring slog and move to Wales to raise Shetland ponies and sire twelve giddy worm-ridden children.
Your Holy Grail Record: Chicken Shack – Daughter Of The Hillside
Q – Any one of your family can be said to be equally responsible for the Torrentials gritty backbeat. Founded by your father, the Torrentials consist of your brother Roddy (bass), Skeeter (drums), Booker (rhythm), Tucker (lead) and Lil’ Jeff (vocals). Your signature sound merges distorted marimba and the electric acoustic, guaranteeing a long career of radio station appearances and cruise ship gigs.
Your Holy Grail Record: Ram Jam – Ram Jam
R – You grew up on Richard Hell and the Ramones and Patti Smith and Johnny Thunders. You practically owned the third stool down the bar at CBGB. For a while you had a baby habit skin-popping Chinese rocks while squatting in Alphabet City, but it was really more a political statement than a debilitating jones, so you started a hardcore Krishna band called Today’s The Day For Youth To Unite Together Tomorrow, which put out three EPs and once opened for Rollins Band.
Your Holy Grail Record: Jim Carroll Band – Catholic Boy
S – You’re one of those people who makes fun of little dogs (my Rottweiler would eat that yapper for breakfast!) and gives hipster parents a hard time about choosing unusual names for their children (Zoe? Miracle? Juno? Why not name her Firetruck Inspektor? Ha!) and laughs at vegans (Dude, aren’t your shoes made of leather?) and makes fun of soccer (There’s no scoring! If you don’t use your hands it’s not a real sport!) You also loudly proclaim your dying allegiance to Mötley Crüe, mainly because Bon Jovi is a puss for not being hard enough, even though their first album has some sweet tunes. You’ve seen Sammy Hagar nineteen times and have the tour shirts to prove it. But secretly, when no one’s around, not even your wife, on lazy afternoons that you call in sick to work, you make a cup of tea and sit on the couch, weeping unreservedly while Sade’s “Smooth Operator” plays over and over again.
Your Holy Grail Record: Sugarloaf – Sugarloaf
T – You and Jeannie got drunk on the bus ride home from the junior field trip to Sturbridge Village, where women in peasant outfits churned butter and mustachio’d men pretended to be blacksmiths. You never forgot that day, mostly because you and Jeannie made out for about twelve miles, trading the same piece of grape Bubblicious back and forth and almost the entire time the Wings tune “I’m Coming Up” was playing over the crappy AM speakers. As soon as you and Jeannie’s lips parted wetly, you knew you were going to be a guitar player. And you were right. Thirty years later, you’re still at it, holding down some killer chops in Berlin Airlift, the sixth best band in the Greater Ohio Valley area.
Your Holy Grail Record: Lee Michaels – 5th
U – People always said you were a little too sensitive for your own good. A little too into your beret. And little too adamant about carrying that collection of Frank O’Hara poetry everywhere you went. First you took lute lessons, then you studied chord patterns on a 14th century Scottish cittern. This, of course, led to your demanding a Korean Strat knock-off for your 16th birthday. It came with a pick, a strap, and extra set of strings, and a copy of Styx’s “Paradise Theater.” You’ve never looked back, even when you were looking back at the other members of the dinner theater ensemble you founded, the Ladies of Alaska Players.
V – Viv was your great-grandfather. Stiv was your grandfather. Midge was your father. You play a vintage Moog at the Tulsa Hilton the first Friday of every month and rake in the tips. Afterwords, a few of the regular ladies buy you enough rounds of cognac to drown Rick Wakeman.
Your Holy Grail Record: Rhinoceros – Apple Brandy
W – You blew off three fingers of your fretting hand while drunkenly lighting fireworks to impress this girl three blankets away at a 4th of July picnic, only to find out later that the dude feeding you warm Red Stripes and goading you into lighting bottle rockets with your teeth to begin with was her boyfriend Kurt. The injury forced you to do like Hendrix and turn your Strat upside down and play it left-handed. Suddenly whole new melodic vistas opened up to you. You now play lead in the Jimmy Kimmel Orchestra.
Your Holy Grail Record: Blackfoot – Strikes
X – You have drumming in your jeans, as well as your genes, but for some reason have never really found a home. You’re a mercenary session type who jumps from band, gig to gig, chasing a paycheck and a fleeting glue-high. Your great-grand Uncle Sergio “Chu Mama” Valdez, notorious for his lightning sticks and vast chemical appetites, once toured with both Buddy Holly and The Monks at the same time, throughout separate European and American tours, without even realizing it.
Your Holy Grail Record: Montrose – Jump On It
Y – You play surf guitar at least three times as good as Dick Dale, piano better than Stevie Windwood, drums better than Neil Pert, bass better than John Entwistle, rhythm better than Keef, keyboards better than Tony Banks, and your vocal range is four octaves wider than Freddie Mercury’s. You are the hottest property in the music world. You don’t even return Jack White’s calls. You’ve run through half of the new Victoria’s Secret catalog already, and Stevie Wonder wants to backpack through Europe with you. You wear silk underwear and a tassled scarf.
Your Holy Grail Record: Vanilla Fudge – Vanilla Fudge
Z – Your sound is essentially a concentrated amalgam of Minor Threat, Gene Chandler, Edie Brickell, Carcass, George Jones, Fela Kuti, Freddie Redd, King Diamond, Dave Mason, Quiet Riot, and Lisa Loeb.
Your Holy Grail Record: Head East – Flat As A Pancake
NOTE: this track list was carefully curated to reflect the totally arbitrary standards of how I define Classic Rock. Namely, the album has to have been released between 1968 and 1979. It has to have been in regular FM rotation at a legitimate classic rock station at some point during that period, even if only on the midnight-2am shift, without it being over-played or an obvious standard. It’s heavy without being metal, southern-fried without being country boogie, pot drenched without being a stoner jam, blues derived without coming from the Delta, British without being fey, and definitively guitar-based. Except when it’s not.
There is one song for each persona/holy grail album. The scroll bar will take you to the bottom of the playlist.