In our series of contemporary biographies (see the earlier blog “Health fails, Simpkins passes”), we present a short summary of the life of rock singer Rebel Young.
He was born in a small town in the US Midwest. His real name was Peter Edward Young, but at 13 he took the stage name Rebel and started a band in his garage called The Raving Lunatics. No one knows why he named the garage, and no one remembers the band’s name.
At 16, he dropped out of school. He never had a job, not even at McDonald’s. He was totally dedicated to his music.
At 18, he had a surprise hit single, “All about Love.”
At 19, he had his first date. It was arranged by his new agent to dispel rumours that he was gay.
At 20, he had his first platinum album, Rant, and was named “New performer of the year.”
At 21, he was arrested for the first time for drunk driving.
At 22, his band broke up, citing artistic differences. The tabloids published allegations by an unnamed member of the band that the split had been about money. He got new backup and had his second platinum album, Restless Rocker.
At 23, he got his first movie role. The critics derided his performance, but the film was a box office hit.
At 24, he dated two movie stars and married another woman, Brandi, an aspiring model.
At 28, Brandi divorced him. He produced a new platinum album called Pain.
At 37, he was arrested for drug possession. His fans picketed the court house. He was given a suspended sentence since it was a first offence and he was considered a solid citizen and an asset to the community.
At 39, he bought his first Rolls.
By 41, his tours had stopped selling out, and he began appearing in Vegas, gaining new fans among a somewhat older crowd.
At 45, his second wife, Roxie, divorced him; his 19-year-old daughter, April Wine, threatened to write a tell-all book if he didn’t increase her allowance; and a woman slapped a paternity suit on him for an incident that she said had occurred thirteen years earlier. He didn’t recall her name or ever meeting her. The case was later settled out of court.
At 46, he was sued, it being alleged that he had stolen one of his songs from another songwriter. He hired a team of expert lawyers, and eventually the case was dismissed.
At 47, rumours of a nervous breakdown and/or a suicide attempt began circulating.
At 48, he applied for bankruptcy protection. He had made $172 million as a rock singer. He listed debts of $18 million and assets of $9 million.
At 49, he slimmed down, losing 10 pounds, recorded a new album, Rebound, and went back on the road. The album and tour were only moderately successful.
At 50, he began doing charity concerts. His fans donated $20 million, which, appropriately, was about a tenth of what he had made in his career. He himself sang at the charity events for only half his usual fee. He was kept solvent by royalties from previous songs and from appearances on late night talk shows.
At 51, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Ersatz University for his contributions to society. The reality was that his contemporaries had finally reached the age and status in the university hierarchy where they got to decide who would get honorary degrees.
At 52, he wrote his autobiography, Everything I Know.
But all was not perfect. At 53, his third wife, Astrid, divorced him, he was charged again with DUI, the IRS was alleging tax evasion, and the FBI were looking into allegations of financial irregularities. A 15-year-old sold her story to the tabloids, saying that she had had sex with him at a drug party.
At 55, he had not recorded an album in six years, and had not had a genuine hit in 16.
At 56, he began to get involved in social issues, and there were even rumours of him running for public office. The high school drop-out was now an expert in social issues, science, economics and politics. He concluded that the rest of us had messed up not only our own lives but also the world in general; fortunately, he understood where we had gone wrong and knew what the solutions were.