Republican Rock Stars

Jessica Simpson, in better days
Jessica Simpson, in better days

Todd Seavey, old friend and occasional reader of this blog, e-mails to say that state Rep. Jon Woods and Johnny Ramone are hardly the only rock musicians with conservative or GOP sympathies. Just off the top of his head, he lists

Michael Graves of the Misfits

Ted Nugent

Bob Seger (Buchananite, anti-U.N., as noted in articles and ostensibly hinted in songs like “Lock and Load”)

Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens

Alice Cooper

Danny Elfman

Neil Peart of Rush

Kid Rock

C.C. Deville (of Poison)

James Hetfield (of Metallica)

Dave Mustaine (formerly of Metallica, now Megadeth)

Gene Simmons

Britney Spears (note: insane)

Jessica Simpson

Chaka Khan

Frankie Avalon

Jeff “Skunk” Baxter

and Meat Loaf.

And more country singers, of course, than you can shake a stick at.”

Todd adds that Belinda Carlisle (who released, I think, six solo albums after she left the Go-Gos) married a Reagan administration official, thus breaking the hearts of many men of a certain age. However, she has strong animal rights sympathies, so it’s hard to know what to conclude from this—although Todd adds that he has known some extremely hawkish vegans, no pun intended. Regrettably, a little research reveals that this year Carlisle endorsed, in succession, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the presidency.

Todd is currently finishing his first book, Conservatism for Punks, which argues that conservatism rightly understood and countercultural movements like rock music share a deep appreciation for individual freedom. Check out his blog, ToddSeavey.com, for incisive (if occasionally eccentric) discussion of the politics of freedom, popular culture, etc.

And now for the Greatest Conservative New Wave Tune of All Time:

On an almost completely unrelated note, I don’t know anything about the politics of Isaac Hayes (singer of “Shaft”, voice of Chef on “South Park”), but I regret to report that he died yesterday.

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36 thoughts on “Republican Rock Stars

  • August 11, 2008 at 2:43 pm
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    Great Post – anytime you can incorporate a picture of Jessica Simpson into a political blog, it’s a great post.

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  • August 11, 2008 at 3:08 pm
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    And don’t forget Chuck Norris. He may give you a roundhouse kick to the side of the head.

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  • August 14, 2008 at 7:04 am
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    wow. i have surprised myself with the depth of the irritation i felt upon seeing that photo of jessica simpson. i don’t know if it’s the bikini, the peace sign, the BDUs, or the hair, but something about it grates on me. i usually find her so gosh darn cute.

    oh, i know. it’s the attempt to evoke patriotism through military solidarity. i’d probably be less offended (*groan* this is dragging me back into college territory!) if she actually visited the troops at walter reed once or twice.

    and to be honest, michelle manhart does sex in a uniform far better.

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  • September 17, 2008 at 1:44 am
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    I have to dispute a couple of those names.

    Pat Dinizio ran as a Reform Party candidate in 2000. That’s not necessarily conservative.

    Neil Peart now describes himself as, and I quote, a “left-leaning Libertarian”.

    James Hetfield wont talk politics to the press at all, saying, quote “F*ck Politics!”.

    I can find absolutely nothing about Danny Elfman’s political leanings, but he hangs with a pretty left-wing crowd.

    You may have missed Sammy Hagar; Sammy says he “votes the man”, but in the mid 80’s also said that Reagan was the “coolest f*ckin’ President ever”.

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  • September 17, 2008 at 7:08 am
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    I talked to Dinizio myself, and his traditionalist-paleo-populist views qualify.

    _Reason_ editors and the like might also think of themselves as left-sympathizing, but I’d count any laissez-faire capitalist libertarian — as Peart has at least been in the past (and in conversation with Dan, I was using conservative/GOP-sympathizing broadly). People for whom being an atheist, for example, is a disqualifier may use “conservative” in a different (and let me add far less socially useful) way.

    There’s a reason Hetfield won’t talk.

    If hanging with a left-wing crowd were a disqualifier, there would be _no_ conservative musicians or actors.

    But I encourage investigating the people on the admittedly quick and minimally-researched list further — and I wouldn’t claim to know for sure what’s inside _anyone_’s head, including Sarah Palin’s.

    I’ll certainly address rock-politics more in future entries on http://ToddSeavey.com , though — after the “Month of Sex” series and next month’s “Month of Horror” series are over.

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  • September 17, 2008 at 7:59 am
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    Todd,
    I’d like to submit a potential “honorable mention” for your running list: Actor Gary Oldman, while perhaps best known as Commissioner Gordon in the most recent “Batman” movies, made an indelible impression as Sid Vicious in “Sid and Nancy,” and is purported to be conservative-leaning.
    D.

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  • October 8, 2008 at 10:11 pm
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    Vince Vaughn, big ol’ tighty righty – jeanine garofalo outed him on the radio a couple of years ago – not a rock star but a star nonetheless

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  • October 20, 2008 at 10:12 pm
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    Neil Peart was never a “conservative”, if anything he has always been a socially liberal libertarian. In his books his ideology tends to be much more liberal then conservative.

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  • November 12, 2008 at 6:51 pm
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    That’s it?? I can’t believe it! I’ll bet there are a lot of them who just don’t want to say…I’m glad to see the ones who are though (minus Simpson or Spears who definately do not qualify as rock stars). I get so tired of hearing the other side ALL the time!

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  • January 29, 2009 at 9:13 pm
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    Frank Zappa was long thought to be a conservative b/c of his support of the War on Drugs. I’ve seen Iggy Pop’s name mentioned as well. A lot of punk bands have conservative &/or Libertarian leaning lyrics. I’d also lump U2 & The Who that have more conservative type lyrics. I saw an interview with Bono from U2 and paraphrasing him he mentioned that the just departed Republican Administration did more for his causes in 2 short years than Clinton did in 8. Of course, as we learned over time Bush definitely possessed a Liberal streak when it came to supporting Democrat social programs.

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  • March 4, 2009 at 1:23 pm
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    C.J. Ramone is a gun loving, ex-marine, conservative leaning libertarian.

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  • March 25, 2009 at 1:44 pm
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    If you read, “The Real Frank Zappa Book” and listen to interviews with Mr. Zappa, you will see that he was a Cottage Capitalist but NOT a republican. He actually disliked republicans more than democrats. He was politically Independent. He didn’t like unions but he also didn’t like large corporations. Basically he believed in only small businesses and was probably a libertarian of some sort. Maybe he’s an anarcho-syndicalist.

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  • March 25, 2009 at 1:57 pm
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    What Who lyrics are conservative? If you are thinking of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again” I think it reflects perpetual revolution. An idea that came out of the enlightenment from people like Marx. Zappa believed in decriminalization of most drugs.

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  • April 3, 2009 at 8:43 pm
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    Iggy Pop did self-identify as a Republican during the 1980s – and publically expressed his support for Reagan – but later turned against the GOP due to the influence of the Religious Right.

    Mike McCready of Pearl Jam referred to Barry Goldwater as his biggest intellectual/political influence.

    Mark E. Smith of the Fall also identifies himself as conservative although not tied to any political party.

    Re: ’60s figures, forgot about Jan Berry (Jan and Dean’s career was highly damaged by their recording the pro-Vietnam War “Universal Coward”) and Jerry Lee Lewis?

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  • April 5, 2009 at 2:21 pm
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    I have written a paper on right of center rockers and musicians.

    I know, in my guise as a rock critic of 20 years, that there are far more out there who are unable/willing to divulge the fact they are not lefties.

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  • April 14, 2009 at 5:28 am
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    It’s telling that whoever wrote this got so desperate to list conservative non-Country musicians that he or she ended up labeling Libertarians who have either openly sponsored the DNC nominee at Democratic Conventions, publicly denounced George Bush as the worst president in 100 years, or sung the praises of Richard Dawkins’ “The God Deception,” as ‘conservative.’ Writer, you’d have been more believable if you listed Ricky Skaggs and other technically adroit Country musicians.

    Brain bias is directly related to political bent, as is creativity. Anyone heavily right-brained will exude creativity, not exactly the conservative mindset. On the flip side are the straight and narrow, the excellent at linear thought — those dominated by their left-brain conservatives. You know, the non-creative, unimaginative, non-musical types.

    For this reason, the only music forms dominated by conservatives are the most structurally predictable (i.e., uncreative) musicforms — Country, for instance.

    ..!..

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  • April 14, 2009 at 9:20 am
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    I’ll be the first to admit that the artistic fields are dominated by liberals. But good Lord, what a troll from PT. You have to wonder if the guy lives under a bridge…

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  • April 16, 2009 at 3:03 am
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    Not true PT. I am a conservative experimental/avant-garde musician. The majority in the musical elite-territory here learns right. Maybe it have something to do with cultural differences (i’m from europe) when it comes to us-republicans and euro conservatives. Hm? There are many right-learning folks on the cultural front. Trust me musicians can say one thing and do another like anyone else.

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  • May 1, 2009 at 5:48 am
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    I don’t know if anyone mentioned Vincent Gallo. He is a Republican. Also, I think PJ Harvey (of the UK) may be a tiny bit conservative in some areas. She is not against Fox hunting for one thing and she use to hang with Gallo. There is something about her that suggests she has her head on more straight than the average 90’s indi rock star. She doesn’t seem to be a follower but more of an independent thinker. Liberal journalists use to try to pin her as a feminist and she balked at it!

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  • May 5, 2009 at 3:49 pm
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    Barley, I have to wonder if that’s Gallo just being eccentric… because in the world he lives in, being a Republican IS being different. I don’t imagine the guy is a font of conservative values. He basically did a porn scene in one of his movies, after all.

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  • May 13, 2009 at 5:07 am
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    Gallo may not be a social conservative in the strictest sense. He is, however, for fiscal responsibility, liberty, national defense and other conservative values and has said so much in many interviews. That being said, I personally do not hold him up as a role model for conservatives. I think he is as depraved as any Hollywood self absorbed fool, though he lives in New York. He just happens to be slightly smarter than those around him when it comes to politics and thinking of the bigger picture as far as our country is concerned. He is not distracted with bleeding heart liberalism. He is, however, just as in love with himself as any of the liberal eletist artists are.

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  • July 26, 2009 at 9:51 am
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    Billy Squier donated to the McCain campaign in 08.

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  • July 27, 2009 at 9:13 am
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    After all the crud we’ve heard about Bono dissing Bush and embracing Obama, I think that, gratitude for Bush’s Africa policies aside, Bono is in no way a conservative. I think from the early videos of him marching with white flags we should have deduced this anyway.

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  • September 20, 2009 at 7:17 pm
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    I know he’s dead, but I think Johnny Ramone deserves note for being an outspoken Conservative throughout his life.

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  • September 28, 2009 at 11:20 pm
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    Saw a half hour show on VH1 back in 2000 called “Rotten Television”. It featured John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) visiting the political conventions that year and he was definitely conservative. He told Alec Baldwin to shut-up, said the Democrat convention was a boring joke, and gave a glowing interview with Newt Gingrich.

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  • September 29, 2009 at 7:51 am
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    In a summer 2009 interview with the New York Times’ Deborah Solomon, Arlo Guthrie, a Ron Paul supporter, had this to say:

    “I became a registered Republican about five or six years ago because to have a successful democracy you have to have at least two parties, and one of them was failing miserably. We had enough good Democrats. We needed a few more good Republicans. We needed a loyal opposition.”

    D.

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  • October 1, 2009 at 1:53 pm
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    What about Johhny Ramone?

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  • October 27, 2009 at 10:24 am
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    You’re leaving out Joe Perry of Aerosmith.

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  • November 30, 2009 at 10:51 am
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    Wow, that pretty much puts to rest any notion that Elfman is a conservative. That Elfman ad looked like it was made by MoveOn.org; and Elfman is married to Bridget Fonda, folks. What he probably did was toy with libertarianism in his youth before he became a full fledged liberal.

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  • December 27, 2009 at 3:21 pm
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    Mick Wall’s new biography of Led Zeppelin reveals that Jimmy Page “repeatedly votes Tory”. So that’s a Brit-equivalent of a Republican. I’ve also heard that Eric Clapton has some Libertarian sensibilities (not necessarily the same thing as Republican), at one point publicly railing about lazy people on the dole in Britain collecting state benefits.

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  • January 6, 2010 at 3:34 pm
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    Gotta love Johnny Rotten…so he told Baldwin to shut up?? LOL BTW, there are a lot more conservative rockers than the list here shows although whomever said the Who are conservative was incorrect. Only 2 members left anyway, but Daltrey was a HUGE Obummer supporter, before the elections he was quoted as saying something about how he couldn’t believe any American in their right mind would NOT vote for Obama…

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  • January 17, 2010 at 6:52 am
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    If you think british conservative musicians are on “your” side, you are stupid. The British Conservative Party is basicly more left-wing than the American Democratic Party.

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