A Course I Hope to Teach, Pt. 14

Would You Be a Rock Star?

Reviewing David Hepworth’s Uncommon People

Terry Barr
5 min readFeb 23, 2022


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I know. Many of us would scream,


Until I was fifty, I harbored hopes that one day someone would want me to front a band because I have a decent singing voice, though it’s fairly low-pitched. I had the hair, the attitude, and I figured I knew what a hit song sounded like.

Then I saw that bald patch.

Life sometimes spares us from the more destructive things we could have ventured into. For a few minutes back in my 20’s, I thought cocaine might be the drug for me. I got convinced it wasn’t on the day after I snorted at regular intervals of twenty minutes over an afternoon and evening and knew it wouldn’t be enough.

And so when I read the accounts of Rock Star/Celebs whose roadies bring out golden trays of coke between numbers on stage and even during numbers when a singer waits patiently or not for a guitar solo to end, I think that even had I the pipes and the chops, could that rock life in any form equal the one I have? Or have lasted as long?

So thanks, David Hepworth, for not killing a dream as much as helping me, for the 500,000th time, understand that fame is fleeting, is soul-selling, and that strange haircuts do eventually fade to baldness, or bad weaves, for us all.

Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars (Henry Holt 2017) takes us on a year-by-year journey, highlighting one special day in each of these years when something momentous in the Rock/Pop world should have made us wince or at least think twice, ma. Starting in 1955 and ending in 1995, Hepworth chronicles the days, sometimes the last days, of Elvis and Buddy Holly, Little Richard, The Beatles, Bowie, Prince, Michael Jackson, the Stones, Nirvana, Madonna, Led Zeppelin, and Dylan, to name only about a quarter of these accounted stars. You likely know their stories anyway, but I love the idea, which could come entirely from thinking of that Holly song,

“That’ll Be the Day,”

a line John Wayne once spoke in an almost-forgotten western.



Terry Barr

I write about music, culture, equality, and my Alabama past in The Riff, The Memoirist, Prism and Pen, Counter Arts, and am an editor for Plethora of Pop.