Who would have thought that a second-tier CanCon rock band would be the group that finally ruined the decades-and-decades-long rock ’n’ roll party for, well, everyone?
Step forward and take a deep bow, Hedley, because you’ve finally become famous for something other than being the kind of generic rock-radio-ready unit that everyone with a modicum of good taste loves to hate.
Yesterday, news broke that Hedley lead singer Jacob Hoggard had been arrested and charged with two counts of sexual assault causing bodily harm and one count of sexual interference. The charges relate to incidents that allegedly occurred on three dates in 2016 with two women. The allegations have not been proven in court.
What stands out about the news is the way that it’s terrifying for anyone who’s ever seen rock ’n’ roll as the golden path to a life where it’s okay to hum “Whole Lotta Love” while violating groupies with aquatic creatures in Seattle hotel rooms.
Or to go weeks not bathing while boning everything in sight in a contest only the members of Mötley Crüe could think up. (For the record, said experiment concocted by bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee ended when a young fan reportedly went down on Sixx’s epically unwashed-forever crotch and then promptly launched her last meal, pasta, into his pubes. In the hair-metal wings of L.A. rest homes it’s now known as the Spaghetti Incident.)
Easy as it would be to go on and on and on, throwing everyone from Kid Rock to Neil Diamond to the Rolling Stones into the world’s grossest punch bowl, you can do that yourself. Let’s just say the fact R. Kelly is not only still walking around as a free man, but also finding the time to record 19-minute songs about his troubles, speaks volumes about everything that’s wrong with this world.
Which brings us back to Hedley, who for years was primarily guilty of making music that made one wish someone, anyone—the Sex Pistols, Nirvana, or Travis Bickle—would rise out of nowhere to clean house where rock ’n’ roll’s concerned.
What the Hoggard case has done now is serve the rockers of the world notice that the shit that made Mötley Crüe’s The Dirt so titillating no longer flies. (Clarifying things for a second, whatever happened with Hoggard and his accusers—and again, you can find no shortage of gross stories from a multitude of women online at legitimate sources like the CBC—no allegations have been proven in court. Also, while we’ll concede that it’s unfair to say Hedley ruined everything for everyone, Hoggard technically isn’t Hedley, but he might as well be, considering he founded the band and no one knows the names of anyone else who plays in Hedley.)
In the wake of the #MeToo tidal wave, behaviour that was, appallingly, once considered okay in certain circles is now anything but. And that includes rock ’n’ roll, where sex, no matter how depraved, has traditionally been something to be celebrated.
How far out of line is the rock world with the rest of society? Let’s illustrate things with this excerpt from the Rick James autobiography Glow. (As a side note, don’t go arguing that James was a funk musician instead of a rock artist; clearly clinically nuts, the dude was way more rock ’n’ roll than anyone who’s ever played Coachella, Lollapalooza, or Burning Man.)
After noting that at one point he was running a “stable” of three or four women, James recalled in Glow that he wasn’t overly skilled at being a pimp.
“I lacked the hard-edged discipline and cold-blooded attitude a good pimp requires,” he wrote. “If my bitch said she was too tired to work, I said go home. If she said some john had beat her, I’d find the john and beat his ass. Pimping was too inhuman for me. I let the girls go and went back to my music.”
That’s right—the man decided that he was better at making music than at trying to re-create the business models of Huggy Bear, Willie Dynamite, or Guido in Risky Business. And for this, he is applauded today as a genius.
Earlier this year, after allegations began to surface on the Internet, but before formal charges were laid, Hoggard and Hedley issued a Facebook statement. It read in part: “We realize the life of a touring band is an unconventional one. While we are all now either married or have entered into committed, long-term relationships, there was a time, in the past, when we engaged in a lifestyle that incorporated certain rock and roll clichés. However, there was always a line that we would never cross.”
Hoggard is hardly the first music celebrity to be rocked by allegations in 2018. He has an ever-growing list of company that ranges from the high-profile likes of Maynard James Keenan to sad also-rans like Crystal Castle’s Ethan Kath.
What sets him apart is that he’s among the first to have a court date in his future. The rest of the rock ’n’ roll world can take notice.
No one is going to stop star struck fans from hooking up with their idols, no matter how gross those idols might be. But maybe, just maybe, we’re finally arriving at a point where the rock stars of the world are starting to realize that you can’t be robbing a person of their dignity just because you can.
The party’s over. And it’s about fucking time.