“Trying to seduce an audience is the basis of rock & roll.” ~ Jon Bon Jovi
“It’s better to burn out than fade away.” ~ Neil Young (and, separately, Def Leppard)
Vampires and rock ‘n’ roll go together like peanut butter and chocolate. The mesmerizing power, the glamorous lifestyle, the nocturnal hours—all perfect for our fanged heroes. So it’s no surprise that many literary vampires can be found in front of a microphone with a Fender Stratocaster strapped across their eternally hot bodies.
But the connection between the two phenomena can be even more profound. Spencer Wallace, the 1950s vampire DJ from my urban fantasy Wicked Game, explains it better than I ever could:
“Lotta people say rock ‘n’ roll is about goin’ all the way, seeing as that was the original meaning of the term.” From beneath his long, dark lashes, he sends the women to his left a look that says, I wouldn’t know anything about that, but maybe you could show me.
“Rock ‘n’ roll is really about immortality,” he continues. “Thanks to Mister Edison’s invention, your great-great grandchildren can hear Elvis and Jerry Lee like they were sitting right there with them in that Memphis studio. That’s living forever, folks.
“But immortality isn’t just about not dying—it’s about never growing old, never growing up, never wanting to grow up.” He tosses off another self-effacing smile, as if surprised by his own conclusion. “You might say being vampires has given us the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.”
My vamps take the immortality business one step further. They’re psychologically and culturally ‘stuck’ in the era in which they were turned. They speak the slang and wear the fashions of their original lifetimes (which makes them great DJs, but sometimes odd conversationalists).
We all know people who are stuck in the 60s, or the 80s, or whatever time period they grew up in, who believe that after a certain point in their lives, the world ceased to offer anything worthwhile. In my opinion, when someone stops changing and stops learning to love new things, they’ve stopped truly living. They’ve become, well, vampires.
That being said, I love old music of almost every kind (sorry, disco!). I also love learning about the history of our world’s cultures—the music, art, and games that everyday people used to enrich their lives. As immortal creatures, vampires can provide windows into past eras, whether it be the Roman Empire or the 1980s hardcore punk scene.
But let’s not forget the most obvious commonality between vampires and rock ‘n’ roll: sex. Music transports us, gets our blood pumping and our bodies moving—not unlike the hypnotic power of the vampire’s gaze. Who can forget Lestat’s stint as a rock star in Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned? He had audiences eating out of his hand and fighting each other for the chance to be his next meal.
Vampires and rock ‘n’ roll both combine power and sex and eternal youth. Through them we tap into our passions and indulge our darkest dreams. Best of all, they come in every flavor for every mood. Is it any wonder we keep coming back for another taste?
* * * *
Which rock or pop star do you think might secretly be a vampire? (My guess: Keith Richards. How else could he still be alive?) Who would you most like to see ‘vamped’ and preserved forever at their current stage of scrumptiousness?
Or, for the more philosophically inclined:
Would you want to be immortal? How would you keep boredom at bay? Would you reinvent yourself every decade or century? When would it be better to burn out than fade away?
All commenters will be automatically entered to win a choice of a signed copy of Wicked Game or a signed Advance Reading Copy of the sequel Bad to the Bone when it becomes available in February. International entries welcome. Contest ends at midnight December 11th 2008.
Good luck, and rock on! (and on…and on…and on….)
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