The Explosion in Rock Star Restaurants

Once upon a time, rock stars did horrible things when left to their own devices. Trashing hotel rooms. Driving cars into swimming pools. Throwing TVs from windows at the upper reaches of buildings. Riding motorcycles down hallways. Inventive uses of fish. (Led Zeppelin fans know what I’m talking about.)

The Who, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Depeche Mode, Guns ‘N Roses–they all had their various appetites for destruction. But we don’t really hear much of that sort behaviour anymore, do we? Why?

First and foremost, rock has become very corporatized and tours are run with military precision. Second, fewer hotels are willing to indulge such antics. Third, record labels used to write cheques to make these problems go away. That doesn’t happen anymore. Bands wised up to the fact that any hush money was later recouped from their future royalties.

And finally, there are just better and more profitable ways to spend your rock star currency. Like opening restaurants.

The Independent takes a look at the situation.

“You won’t hear  ‘Alive And Kicking’ being played in the elevator. Don’t worry! And there’s no Simple Minds memorabilia there,” quips Jim Kerr, the band’s lead singer, about Hotel Villa Angela, the delightful boutique establishment he opened in Sicily a decade ago. “When I first came across Taormina, I thought it was the most magical little town I had ever seen. I still do.” An Italophile since his early teens, the Simple Minds frontman simply acquired a piece of land with spectacular views of Mount Etna and the deep blue Mediterranean and decided to build a small hotel “so that others could come visit and, as a result, go home feeling as recharged and rejuvenated as I did every time I came to this part of the world. People mostly thought I had lost my mind when I told them of my plan”.

Kerr is one of many musicians who have by default, design, or desire become hoteliers, restaurateurs and owners of holiday resorts and destinations. They include Bono and The Edge of U2, who bought the run-down Clarence Hotel in Dublin in 1992 and turned it into a luxury establishment; Benny Andersson of Abba, who owns the Rival Hotel in Stockholm; Gloria and Emilio Estefan, the Cuban-American superstars whose raft of enterprises includes two hotels and several Cuban-themed restaurants in Florida. Olivia Newton-John is the main investor in the Gaia Retreat and Spa at Byron Bay in Australia; while Kate Pierson, of new-wave group The B-52s, is the co-proprietor of the quirkiest destinations a music fan could wish for: the Lazy Meadow rustic lodge in New York’s Catskill Mountains, and the Lazy Desert Airstream Motel, comprising six vintage Airstream caravans parked in the Mojave Desert of southern California. Chico Bouchikhi, the co-founder of the Gipsy Kings and now the leader of Chico and The Gypsies, welcomes guests and hosts parties at the picturesque Le Patio   Camargue on the banks of the Rhône at Arles.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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