"All stars are celebrities, but not all celebrities are stars,"
states David Shumway in the introduction to "Rock Star, " an
informal history of rock stardom. This deceptively simple statement
belies the complex definition and meaning of stardom and more
specifically of rock icons. Shumway looks at the careers and
cultural legacies of seven rock stars in the context of popular
music and culture--Elvis Presley, James Brown, Bob Dylan, the
Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, and Bruce
Springsteen. Granted, there are many more names that fall into the
rock icon category and that might rightfully appear on this list.
Partly, that is the point: "rock star" is a familiar and desired
category but also a contested one.
Shumway investigates the rock star as a particular kind of
cultural construction, different from mere celebrity. After the
golden age of moviemaking, media exposure allowed rock stars more
political sway than Hollywood's studio stars, and rock stars
gradually replaced movie stars as key cultural heroes. Because of
changes in American society and the media industries, rock stars
have become much more explicitly political figures than were the
stars of Hollywood's studio era. Rock stars, moreover, are icons of
change, though not always progressive, whose public personas read
like texts produced collaboratively by the performers themselves,
their managers, and record companies. These stars thrive in a
variety of media, including recorded music, concert performance,
dress, staging, cover art, films, television, video, print, and
Filled with memorable photographs, "Rock Star" will appeal to
anyone interested in modern American popular culture or music
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