Jamie Reidy wonders if there is as much racial prejudice within Rock & Roll as there is in basketball.
In this completely unscientific poll, I will rank the biggest Asian-American rockers.
1) Todd Park Mohr. Who? Exactly. The half-Korean Mohr is better known as the large cranium-ed leader of Big Head Todd and The Monsters. I first heard of this Colorado band in 1991, thanks to two Notre Dame classmates who transferred to the U of C for a semester in our junior year. (They nearly didn’t return to ND, thanks to the more, uh, accommodating drug and sex attitudes in Boulder.) One of my friends played guitar and sang in a band; through that vehicle, he shared “Bittersweet” with us. I’ve been a fan ever since. In fact, I saw my first live BHT show this past June in Hermosa Beach and came away incredibly impressed with Todd’s guitar-playing.
2) James Iha. The Smashing Pumpkins’ cofounder and guitarist is 100% Japanese. Some music aficionado pals of mine suggested that Iha be ranked in the top spot, but it’s tough to pass up another band’s namesake. Also, the fact that James Iha never seems to smile annoys me.
And that’s it.
Journey’s new lead singer does not count, since he is from the Philippines, not South Detroit. But his Hollywood-worthy story begs the question: shouldn’t the Internet have helped more Asian-American kids get discovered?
William Hung does not count, either. Insert joke, here.
Interestingly, I.M. Pei designed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Iha’s Smashing Pumpkins has an outside chance of getting in, but I doubt it.
There are way more Wok-n-Roll sushi joints in America than Asian-American rock-n-roll stars.
I wanna know why that is the case.
Is the Jeremy Lin of rock playing till his fingers bleed in a Midwestern garage or a southern basement? I hope so.
—AP Photo/Chris Pizzello