Arlen Roth

Today I happened to find myself in a very interesting conversation with some guys who really had no idea who I was, but who started talking to me about music, and of course, then I did inform them of who I was, and what I do. The interesting part I found about this discussion was how they felt the need to convey to me just how “approachable” they thought I was for a “rock star.”
Of course, I informed them that I in no way consider myself a “rock star”, but am certainly as they said, approachable. It was funny being called a “rock star by these folks, which also told me that so many people who have not actually “touched” fame start to think anyone who plays music and who has done a lot of cool things is now a “rock star.” It’s easily one of the most over-used terms in the English language, and misused as well. It’s sort of become a generic term for anyone who plays music and has aspirations to “make it”, so right away they get called “rock stars!”
But in any event, the discussion touched on many topics, but the main thrust was about how there is this perceived notion that musicians are “up there”, and all the other “commoners” are way “down there.” I tried to tell these guys that I had brought hundreds of acclaimed artists into the living rooms of the world with Hot Licks Video and that it was certainly one way in which someone had helped bridge the gap that exists between “rock star” and the common man…after all, on most of these tapes it may even be the only time someone like Buddy Guy, Joe Pass, Danny Gatton and a host of others ever really sat down in front of a camera and told it like it is, and really got to the core of their musical soul.
Frankly, there were a lot of artists who did their videos for me who were never able to step out of their “rock star” image, and who were also extremely shy when it came to sharing their knowledge. Some of you may recall some of the earlier Hot Licks videos, where I actually had to sit there and play and talk with the artist, so they wouldn’t be too shy in front of the camera, and I would keep them from losing their train of thought when it came to what we were trying to convey to the audience. This was especially true with the videos I did with Lonnie Mack, John Entwistle, Robin Trower, James Burton and Mick Taylor among many others!
The truth is, all artists of all art forms definitely “need their space” and it’s only then, perhaps after a big show, that they can become truly “approachable” and can open up to others. Last night for me was a perfect example, as I finished a long and deeply emotional set, all I wanted to do was go to my dressing room and retreat for a bit before having to do the old “meet and greet”, but the stage was literally stormed by people who just had to talk to me even though I was basically worn out, and as you can see in the photo, even wanted to be photographed holding my red Les Paul! Still, it was a great time, and I always invite a “closeness” with my audience, but it’s also on them to know when and when not to approach!!!