OK, so after the passing of Bowie (an artist whose work I adore) it got me thinking of exactly what aspects of an artists personality you are willing to let slide whilst listening to a song or body of work. It's something I've contemplated for a few years after what happened with Lost Prophets and seeing some of the fans reactions to the news of what Ian Watkins had done. I wondered whether I would still be able to listen to music that had meant so much to me if the lead singer of a band I really loved turned out to be a paedophile. Would I be able to block that out and still appreciate the music for what it was or whether it would be tainted? I wondered whether it depended on the music that was being made. Say it was a very intimate performer or lyricist; that would be a hell of a lot more difficult to block out than an electronica band without vocals. Or would it be? Would I want it to be?
More recently I've become more aware that I listen to music by artists that others would find questionable. If I was very religious how would I justify listening to music by drug users? If I was a climate change denier would I be able to listen to music made by those with such a conscience and who create music that surrounds that idea?
Even more recently I've become aware that I often listen to music by people who I find questionable:
Jimi Hendrix beat his girlfriends One member of Queens of the Stone Age did the same until he was kicked out for it A member of the Rolling Stones married an 18 year old whom he had been in a relationship since she was aged 13 and whom she claims had sex with him at 14 years of age David Bowie was purported to have had sex with an underage groupie who was passed around the top artists back in the day and who was allegedly abducted and threatened by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin Aphex Twin is a 9/11 truther Beck is a Scientologist and Mick Ronson of David Bowie is a Mormon - this does not bother me now but there was a time when I was quite anti-theist, and whilst I would have continued to listen to their music I think it would have changed the way I would have listened to it had I know during that period of my life Maureen Tucker, drummer of The Velvet Underground is a Tea Party supporter
Then there is music I don't particularly like the works of but have certain songs I can appreciate:
Michael Jackson gets plenty of airtime and is respected but charge sheets show that he at the very least showed pornography to minors. He claimed it was because he was friends with them and he had done wrong. This is the very least of his wrong doing Cee Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley admitted on his Twitter that he had sex with a woman who could not consent but that it wasn't rape because he wore a condom
Are there any artists you listen to that have questionable histories and how does it affect the way you approach their work? It does not have to be completely about music. Charlton Heston is huge with the NRA, Roman Polanski admitted to sodomising a drunk underage girl and refuses to reenter the US as he will be arrested, many sports stars have been guilty of all sorts of crimes. How does this affect the way you watch them or how you view the teams they play for?
I'm just interested in where people draw the line, where and why they might let some get away with others. I'm not saying it's necessarily wrong to do so, simply interested in the way that art can shape that opinion.