Sunday, 6 July 2014

Top Five Rock Cars

5. David Coverdale's Jaguar XJ


I must admit that when I first saw the video for Here I Go Again age seventeen I didn't actually notice that there was a car underneath Tawny Kitaen.

But, yes, as in all the other Whitesnake vids of the era, there is. And as David Coverdale, the lad from Yorkshire who joined the biggest rock band in the world before making it even bigger with his own band, never forgot where he came from it's a British motor.

Or two British motors actually, one white and one black. I used to think was some sort of symbolism. Not so. The video director just had a black one so he parked it next to Coverdale's white version and then asked Tawny to do her stuff. The result was a vid that helped push a song, that had previously only managed #34 in the UK charts on a previous release, to a Billboard #1.

The hair and the spandex have dated, but the cars haven't. Over here the big cats have a reputation of being a bit of an Arthur Daley motor and they aren't particularly practical on narrow roads. My little Metro ragged off a few. However even I'll admit the XJ is something of a classic design.

It not really recommended that your girlfriend dances in your lap whilst driving one though. I'd like to think Tawny was just playing around for the cameras, but as in 2002 she was arrested for kicking her then husband, Cleveland Indians player Chuck Finley, whilst he was driving, maybe she wasn't. He filed for divorce immediately afterwards and the Chicago White Sox played this song at the stadium next time they played the Indians.

4.  John Lennon's Rolls Royce Phantom V


How we missed the symbolism at the time.

When the hippest of the Fab Four bought a Roller and got artist Steve Weaver to paint it in the style of a Gypsy caravan it seemed that the counter-culture had stormed the bastions of the British Establishment.

It took punk to remind us that they had in fact become the Establishment.

Lennon, a wife beater who spent most of his post-Beatles career as a heroine addict, wrote some decent songs, but also appears to have lost touch with reality along the way.

Imagine is a great song, although a rather ironic one for funerals as who really wants to see the coffin of their loved one disappear behind the curtain to the words "Imagine there's no heaven." However in the video Lennon appears to have missed that he was singing "Imagine no possessions" whilst playing a $40,000 piano and wandering around his multimillion dollar mansion.

3. ZZ Top's Ford Eliminator


Few cars are more rock 'n' roll than the Ford Model A Coupe, the 'Little Deuce Coupe' of the Beach Boys song. Always a popular choice for making into a Hot Rod, the Eliminator is custom job done for ZZ Top frontman Billy F Gibbons by Don Thelan's Buffalo Motor Cars. The inspiration was the car driven by Martin Sheen in the film The California Kid.

They named their eighth album after the car and, along with the beards, the car had a starring role in the vids that accompanied their new grungy with a four-on-the-floor beat sound. The result though was a car that, although fully drag strip ready, spent more time posing than performing. 

2. Jan Berry's Corvette Stingray

When is comes to cars many artists talk the talk, but few walk the walk. Even fewer walk the walk and walk away.

Rock car crashes are tragically too numerous to mention them all. Marc Bolan died in a friend's Mini 1275GT, which, with only 57bhp probably gets the unfortunate prize of least powerful car to kill a celebrity. The prize for the most complete rock car death though must go to Whitesnake drummer Cozy Powell who died whilst doing 104mph in bad weather in his Saab 9000. Whilst drunk. And not wearing a seatbelt. And talking on his mobile phone. His last words were "Oh shit".

Jan Berry was half of a fifties double act that is surprisingly uncheesy. They liked their cars, and one of their songs was Dead Man's Curve,about a race between a Corvette and an E Type Jaguar that ends in both cars off the road.

Two years later Jan Berry was cruising on Sunset Boulevard, not far from Dead Man's Curve, when he too lost control of his 'vette and totalled it. He lived, and was back on the road a year later and lived to the ripe old age of 62.

1. Keith Moon's Chrysler Wimbledon 

Or was it a Lincoln Continental, or was it a Rolls Royce, or did it even happen at all?

This is the car that Keith Moon allegedly drove into a swimming pool in the ultimate act of rock we'll-pay-someone-else-to-clean-up-the-mess-'cos-we're-so-rich excess.

Numerous versions of the story abound. One has a drunk Moon trying to make a getaway from a police raid on a rowdy birthday party in a Lincoln, letting the handbrake off the car and having it roll backwards into the pool. In another version it's a Roller and in another the pool is a muddy pond at Moon's house.

Roger Daltry, who only admits to seeing the 450,000 bill for removing the car, says it was the Chrysler Wimbledon and an ornamental pool at a Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan. As this is the nearest we've got to an eye witness, we'll go with that story.

In the picture the Wimbledon is the old timer to the right of the 246 Dino in this picture. As you can see Mr Moon has also pranged the Ferrari, allegedly after changing into first gear at 100mph.

But then, what is a rock car if it's in one piece. Some musicians, like Pink Floyd drummer Nick mason, whose collection includes a Ferrari F40 and a Lancia Stratos,look after their cars. Many musicians of that generation now look after themselves. Even Rik Wakeman has given up the booze and fags these days..

But what's rock 'n' roll about that?

Tragically Keith Moon did more damage to himself than to his machines and followed his Ferrari to the great party in the sky in 1978, after an overdose of prescription medication.