Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker

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Charlie Parker

We all have our own personal images of what a rockstar is. We have our stereotypes of what they look like, how they talk, how they act, and what values they hold. Even though the stars people worship seems to change with the seasons, these fans of our rock stars seem to have certain things in common that continue from generation to generation. The fans form cult like followings, and in the case of many musicians, the fans authenticate legendary status to some musicians after death. In extream cases fans even refuse to admit to the death of there beloved stars, such is the case with Elvis and 2pac. Many people will say that this phenomonon of rock stars and their fans started with Elvis Presly or Chuck Berry. After watching the film in class about Charlie Parker, it seems clear that he was the first American rock star.
What does it take to become an authenticated rock star legend? Why would one put Charlie Parker into the catagorie of one? Perhaps the best logic is to compare him with other legends and see what they had in common. Let’s take the personas of Jimmy Hendricks, Bob Marley, and for the sake of affirmaitve action… Kurt Cobain.
To anyone who follows popular music and it’s culture, there are a few immeadiate facts that jump out about these people. One of the fist is that they are all dead! However the important fact is not so much that they died, but more how they lived lives which lead to their early deaths. All three of these people encompassed the rebelious personality of the rock stars. Even after their deaths, they continued to be a public icon of living the “free life”. This can be proven by a walk through any music store today, as you will see T-shirts glorifying these lost stars. It seems Parker’s tragic end to a short, yet succesful music career is the beginning of a 20th century pop music trend. The legends and stories of his rebelious life continues to grow just as like other modern martyrs of musical stardom, and it seems he may have set the people’s original standard as a rock star.
Another thing Parker has in common with these and other musical legends is the immeasurable influence he had on his particular style of music.

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Bob Marley is more or less the eternal symbol of regge. Kurt Cobain is often credited with having one of the most influential bands of the 90’s. Jimmie Hendricks is often spoken of as the best guitar player of his time. In no less of a way Charlie Parker took the music of his time and turned it into something new. He was unafraid to critisize the music of his time for it’s lack of creativity, so he set out to find his own musical style. Chuck Berry may say that there is never really anything new under the sun, but in this case, what matters is the peoples’ popular opinion. Just as Jimmy is the icon of the woodstock musical culture and Cobain’s Nivana is the icon of “grunge rock”, the boppers made Parker into the inovative god of bop and modern jazz.
How does a musician turn his following into a progressive movement like these stars did. One does as Parker did. You take what is out there, and change it to give people something new that people can personally relate part of their lives to. Whether or not the musicians tried to create something political for people is irrelevant because the fans did for them. Once Jimmy played the Star Spangled Banner at woodstock, he became an icon of freedom rock. In the same way, Charlie may not have intended to start anything political, or make social statements with his recklessly free life style. Never the less, his fans assigned to it all types of meanings, both of political protest and social protest.
It seems clear, that Charlie Parker, even without a guitar, had everything required of a modern rock star. He will be remebered as a rebel, a musical inovator, and a man who inspired his fans to new ideas with his music. He may well have been the first American rock star.
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