The Heroism of “No”

If you think this planet is worth more than money, sometimes saying "no" is is a kind of heroism, and sometimes the most unlikely creatures–some of them crude, rude, and tattooed–turn out to be the most inspiring of people.

About six months ago, the dimunitive but tough John Densmore, former drummer for the Doors, went to court to win his right not to sell out. Cadillac offered $15 million to the three Doors survivors for the rights to their classic hit, ‘Break on Through (to the Other side)." Apple offered $4 million for an unspecific song. Densmore refused both offers, to the fury of his bandmates. He stood on solid legal ground–in l970 the group agreed specifically that any licensing deal for a song would require unanimous consent within the group–but his bandmates sued him for not selling out.

Last October, he won. Densmore is quoted in a first-rate LATimes story as saying that when his former bandmate Ray Manzarek calls:

"I always ask him, ‘What is it you want to buy?’ "

Now in her Another Green World blog, Judith Lewis finds more examples of rockers turning down big bucks from General Motors, this time from a group much less known than the Doors. Still:

"We figured it was almost like giving music to the Army, or Exxon."

So said Transam guitarist Philip Manley, whose group (which to me sounds like Devo meets punk rock) refused $180,000 to license their song "Total Information Awareness" for Hummer commercials.

To which we can only say: Rock on, dudes!



Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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