Madonna let rip on her hometown recently. “I miss absolutely nothing about growing up in Michigan. Nothing at all,” she told US Weekly. But she’s not the first rock star to distance herself from her roots. Here’s 15 stories of stars – not always tactfully – making it very clear that they’ve grown out of their provincial beginnings.
Her Madge really isn’t holding back at upsetting the good people of Rochester this month. “I couldn’t be around basic, provincial thinking people,” she told DJ Howard Stern, referring to the Michigan town she grew up in. “It’s like someone calling one of your kids ugly,” said mayor Bryan Barnett, writing in an open letter. “We are many things, Madonna, but basic and provincial minded we are not!”
Back in the day, a pre-fame Kurt Cobain wrote a mocked up press release for Nirvana complaining that Aberdeen where he came from was full of “bigoted, redneck, snoose-chewing, deer-shooting, faggot-killing logger types”. Despite his antipathy for his hometown, he didn’t venture that far from it in his 27 years, except of course to go on tour.
One Direction’s Harry Styles thought he’d make the people of his village Holmes Chapel in Cheshire proud when he became rich and famous. Instead he has to keep a low profile when he visits his mum for villagers shouting “twat” at him in the street. Well that’s according to the Daily Fail anyway.
Nick Cave certainly doesn’t hate his hometown, though he almost inflicted a dubious statue of himself on the people of Warracknabeal in Australia, at least until the recession saved them. Cave, it was reported, was planning to erect a giant gold statue of himself naked on a horse, but decided the move would be crass after the 2008 crash.
Not too many people can boast having a blue plaque put up in their honour whilst still being alive, but it was an accolade bestowed on the very-much-breathing lead singer of Blur last October. As the ceremony took place, Damon Albarn looked on proudly from the upstairs bedroom of his old house in Leytonstone.
Jack White was apparently disappointed with the home crowd at Detroit’s Fox Theatre when he played there last July. The singer, who now lives in Nashville, reportedly left the stage after 30 minutes, so rattled was he by the lacklustre crowd at a venue he apparently worked next door when he was younger. A prophet is never accepted in his hometown, although Jack did return to the stage.
Residents of Bow were upset when Dizzee Rascal apparently slagged off the area he grew up in to The Sun and the now defunct thelondonpaper. Dizzee claimed he was misquoted, saying: “I’m not gonna lie: I don’t always like everything about Bow… but on the whole I love where I come from. I’m proud of where I come from and I’m proud to represent that area.”
When Muse became famous, they displayed considerable naiveity when they badmouthed their hometown of Teignmouth, claiming growing up there had been “a living hell”, somewhat forgetting that people from the Westcountry parish might read it. 16 years on and the trio have been forgiven by almost all of the locals. Almost all.
Ringo Starr upset the people of Liverpool in 2008 when he appeared on the Jonathan Ross Show, claiming to miss “nothing” about the city he was born and raised in. The occasionally irascible Beatle drummer also upset fans in the same year when in a video message he said he would refuse to sign anything further. Must have been having an anus horribilis.
Axl Rose doesn’t like to talk about the fact he comes from Lafayette, Indiana, despite being its most famous son. The Guns ‘n’ Roses singer makes trips back home for Ami’s Pizza though, a weakness that keeps him coming back. Or perhaps that’s what Ami’s Pizza on Elwood Avenue want us to think.
Miami-based rapper Drake hasn’t slagged off his hometown of Toronto to the best of our knowledge, but a film made there in 2009 by local people – Drake’s Homecoming: The Lost Footage – got the superstar’s dander up. He distanced himself from the movie made when he was 23, insisting his stance against the movie was “protecting the fans”.
Eric Burdon of The Animals caused a stink when he didn’t turn up for the funeral of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, claiming the superstar hated his hometown of Seattle; this was after Burdon had been on the BBC claiming Jimi “made his exit when he wanted to”. Burdon would have known Jimi through Hendrix Experience manager Chas Chandler, the man who discovered him.
Faith No More’s Mike Patton once said his home town of Eureka, California was full of “hippies and loggers”. His Mr Bungle and onetime FMN bandmate Trey Spruance went further: “I’m frightened by a lot of it. There’s a lot of pot growers with machine guns… not to mention all the rednecks who want to beat you over the head with baseball bats”.
Jacques Brel left his home of Brussels and the family business to pursue fame and fortune in Paris in the early 50s, and when one attempt failed he went back to La Ville Lumière until he finally hit the big time, turning his back on Belgium until his death in ‘78. “We have been conquered by everyone, we speak neither pure French nor Dutch, we are nothing,” he once said.
It’s not all ugly: in 1981, The Specials delivered one of the best musical pieces of social and political commentary ever when they released the eerily brilliant ‘Ghost Town’, a song inspired by their hometown of Coventry (though it could have been about a number of UK towns in the early Thatcher years). It resonated with the British public and spent three weeks at no.1.