* 200 articles. Two years. Whelk. The best of Upsideclown. Might be reprinted.

Rosencrantz and Leytonstone

1 May 2003
James is seeking to order the Gods of Rock.

...and it was like "you're not my father?" - yeah like darth vader "tskch I AM your father" - and he said "ask your mum" and stormed out so I like go up and ask her and she's like all emotional right so I go "what do you mean I've got my dad in my cd collection" and she's like she got screwed by some rock star at some gig way back before she met Dad I mean Tony anyway right so I think and start guessing Axl Rose? Damn! Eric Clapton? Shame. Rick Astley? Phew! Who then? So she's like David Lee Roth and I'm like what the spandex guy and she's yeah and I'm like oh...

And so the Roth Index was born. Since the thirties, fans and magazines have tried to rank their musical heroes in order of some kind of ephemeral "greatness". I'm sure that privately too, the more competitive members of the guitar-slinging perm brigade and historical equivalents also wished for a more concrete method of determining their place on the Rock ladder of eternal glory. The punctuationally challenged soliloquy you overheard above gives an idea of how this measure works.

Any old Joe can write down a list of their favourites, publish it in Kerrang and proclaim it to be the definitive selection, but it won't be. All these magazines have deals with the record companies, even personal links with the stars themselves. Interests are certainly vested. So, we try and form a more fair, albeit still subjective, method. And it goes a little something like this:

How would you feel if you discovered your real biological father was David Lee Roth? Excitement of a direct link to rock fame minus Yellow Spandex effect and some Obscurity Level equals, in this key case, indifference. Therefore, if you are even slightly pleased when you discover who your lost biological father (or mother) is, then that person ranks higher than David Lee Roth. If you are just slightly embarrassed or disgusted, then that person ranks lower. Bemusement and a quasi-gallic shrug of the shoulders condemns that person to equality with Roth. Thus was born the Roth Index.

You haven't heard of this because it is a very difficult metric to measure. The only time it can be judged is during the first few days a person is notified. It can not apply to non-abandoned children of rockstars for this reason. It is not inconceivable, however, that the people we are trying to measure have sired at least one surprise package on tour somewhere. It is said that about an eighth of high school students in the American mid-west bear a striking resemblance to at least one member of Motley Crue (usually Nikki Sixx).

Sheer travel costs and some legal wrangling meant that those of us trying to calculate and set the Roth Index had to get proactive. We assembled a team and resources through a Malibu-based fund and subtle targeted marketing to our potential clients, and got to work. We chose North-East London as our base because of its ethnic diversity, worship of stadium rock and proximity to Essex.

If you listen carefully through radio programmes giving out tickets and back-stage passes to the big rock gigs over the last seventeen years, we ensured that almost all of them were won by girls in their late teens from Leytonstone, Stratford, Leyton, Forest Hill, sometimes as far as Wanstead or East Ham. Nine months after the respective gigs, the little tots are born, and we could normally rely on the relatively close family ties of these communities to ensure that the true identity was kept quiet for a long time.

Then when the time was right, we broke the news to them, and carefully monitored the response over several days. The reason we hang around for a bit is because the initial shock, while being useful at the extremities (the instant beam or barf, we call it), is not great when they haven't even heard of them. We then track how hard they try and find out who their parent is, and see if they brag about it in the pub, or whisper it with a red face. We have become expert at judging these responses and sometimes we even get some direct comparators ("Well, I may be Ray Parker Jr's son, but at least I'm not Lionel Richie's"). As you can see, we also expanded out of perm-rock, and quite lucratively too.

Among the stars, the rich, our league tables form a far more emotive pull than your average celebdaq or similar. Because the Roth index gives a more general measure of "legendism". It is far more difficult to change your ranking. Criminal cases late in life can be eternally damaging (think Pete Townsend), or have little effect (think James Brown). The gradual rise and fall of retro trends has some effect, but more often than not, once your illegitimate offspring has proclaimed you as naff, you are destined to stay that way. Some stars are repeat customers just to give themselves another chance. We have a complex averaging algorithm to try and filter out transient trends so our methods seem fair.

Because the more thorough our methodology and accepted our results, the more powerful our rankings become. Members of new "bands" like Coldplay have started putting aside progeny at the rate of one every six months just to ensure an accurate ranking. Personally, I have to pity them really, as the indifference they currently muster will soon turn to despairing boredom when compared to the new up-and-coming super-group The Doog. I really should get them started soon...


This is the fucking archive

Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
16 October 2003. James writes: Jakesy's School of Urban Driving
24 September 2003. James writes: Chapter One
4 September 2003. James writes: The Silicon Soul
14 August 2003. James writes: A Room With 100 Seats
24 July 2003. James writes: English For Beginners
3 July 2003. James writes: Coldplay are crap. Discuss.
9 June 2003. James writes: It Takes All Sorts
22 May 2003. James writes: Lesson 2: Buying his Gran for a tenner
1 May 2003. James writes: Rosencrantz and Leytonstone
10 April 2003. James writes: Character Building
20 March 2003. James writes: So This Is It. What Are We Going To Do About It?
27 February 2003. James writes: Street Level Zero
6 February 2003. James writes: Reference: James Noteworthy
16 January 2003. James writes: Kissing George Clooney for just £99!
26 December 2002. James writes: Hongkong In Four Tableaux
5 December 2002. James writes: We Are Your Idea
14 November 2002. James writes: The Knight Of Spring Fervent
24 October 2002. James writes: Go On, Be Honest
7 October 2002. James writes: Cold Comfort
12 September 2002. James writes: Peas In A Pod
22 August 2002. James writes: Seed Investment
1 August 2002. James writes: We Are QPR
11 July 2002. James writes: The Road to Ossuna
20 June 2002. James writes: Pret A Teleporter
27 May 2002. James writes: A Play On Words
2 May 2002. James writes: Labour Saving Device
8 April 2002. James writes: Beggaring Belief
14 March 2002. James writes: Small Things
18 February 2002. James writes: Drop Dead Letters
24 January 2002. James writes: High-Rise Rhapsody
27 December 2001. James writes: My drift's too hip to resist.
6 December 2001. James writes: My Lord Has No Nose
12 November 2001. James writes: A Job For Life
18 October 2001. James writes: Which is the cleverest animal?
24 September 2001. James writes: Interview With An Automatum
30 August 2001. James writes: Each To Their Own
6 August 2001. James writes: An Escape, In Sonata Form
12 July 2001. James writes: Truckloads Of Goodies
18 June 2001. James writes: There's No Such Thing As A Coincidence
24 May 2001. James writes: It's All True - The Paper Says So
30 April 2001. James writes: A Letter From Prisyn
16 April 2001. James writes: I Quit
15 March 2001. James writes: An Essay In Procrastination
15 February 2001. James writes: Confessions Of An English Sand-Eater
22 January 2001. James writes: The Future And The Pasta
28 December 2000. James writes: Never drink with men in red
4 December 2000. James writes: The Underground
9 November 2000. James writes: Right answer. Wrong answer
16 October 2000. James writes: The March of Proudfoot: Part I
21 September 2000. James writes: You haven't got a chance
28 August 2000. James writes: Bad, man. Wicked
24 July 2000. James writes: I play games with street lamps

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