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LEFSETZ LETTER: Bode Miller – Rock Stars Don't Play The Game, They CREATE The Game

We've got no ROCK STARS!

What blew up the business in the sixties and seventies wasn't only the music, but the people who MADE IT!

Rock stars were iconoclastic folk who followed their hearts, did what they FELT was right instead of what people told them to do. Today's labels think they've got everything under CONTROL! They've eliminated the RISK! But they've also eviscerated the heart and soul of the business. If the act doesn't find fault with the label, agrees with everything it says, then you don't have a rock star.

That's part of the appeal of rappers. When Snoop is up for murder, or 50 Cent's posse is shooting people, it doesn't seem like they're playing the corporate game. I mean do you want to DIE while you're raking in millions of bucks? Isn't this the ANTITHESIS of the game? Aren't you supposed to use your money to buy a house in the hills and first class dope? Aren't you supposed to ride in limos and have sex with desirable people?

That's what Paris Hilton does. But she's not a rock star.

And neither is anybody in Maroon 5. Or Matchbox Twenty for that matter. Oh, make no mistake, Rob Thomas is TALENTED, but he's like the kid next door who took ice skating lessons for a decade and is finally on TV in a national competition. You RESPECT her, you just don't BELIEVE IN HER!

But you believe in Bode Miller.

Hell, you might not be sure who Bode Miller is.

Or maybe you know that he's an American ski racer.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Sure, even BODE is getting tired of saying that he grew up in a house without indoor plumbing.

But that's just the SET-UP! Something in a corporate bio that is trumped up by the company that the person really had NOTHING TO DO WITH!

But being home-schooled and dropped off at Cannon Mountain while still in elementary school EVERY AFTERNOON to ski alone, THAT'S interesting. God, today's parents DON'T LET THEIR KIDS OUT OF SIGHT! But Bode's mother, separated from his father, home-schooling him, after his lessons, when she went to work, dropped this mere tyke at New Hampshire's most fearsome ski area and said GO FOR IT!

And with all these miles under his skis, Bode was picked up at a ski academy for high school. But he never graduated. He owed the school one more paper. But he refused to do it, because he thought it was STUPID!

Expect this school to give him an honorary diploma soon. That's how hypocritical America works.

And then Bode EMBRACED NEW TECHNOLOGY! Instead of using the same skis as everybody else, Bode employed the K2 Four, a recreational SHAPED SKI!

And started blowing people's doors off. To the point where EVERYBODY SWITCHED TO THE EQUIPMENT THAT HE WAS ON!

But the U.S. Ski Team wasn't happy. Bode was outspoken. He wouldn't take their advice.

But then he started to win.

Oh, everybody's happy when you WIN!

But not Bode. After winning, he started COMPLAINING! Saying the U.S. Ski Team was MESSED UP! That they didn't pay him enough MONEY! That they PREVENTED him from earning more money. That it was organizationally CORRUPT! That it kicked the talented skiers off for being too old, just when they started to get GOOD! Yup, HE made it, now he was trying to help his BRETHREN! Not for any personal advantage, but because it was RIGHT!

And like an inept record company, the U.S. Ski Team has done a HORRIBLE job of promoting Bode in the U.S. Even though he blew away all the other athletes in the Superstars competition.

But in Europe, Bode's a GOD! Not only the biggest, most popular guy in ski racing, but someone UNABLE TO WALK THE STREET UNRECOGNIZED!

And why do they love BODE?

First and foremost, he's not Austrian.

The Austrians are machines. They ONLY ski race. They're one-dimensional. They obey their coaches.


He lives in a bus. Where he's got a big screen TV. Where he plays video games between runs.

Rather than go to bed early, Bode stays up late at night drinking. And chasing tail.

But he wins. Bode wins.

He does it the way NOBODY ELSE DOES! He goes straight at the gate instead of turning around it. He's ONLY interested in winning. He refuses to play it safe. He WON the first slalom, then proceeded to ski out in seven straight. The coaches said he was OVERTIRED! That he was skiing too many races. That he needed a REST! Bode said that was all crap. God, he was OUT HERE to ski race. That was his fun. And he was going to do it HIS WAY!

Phil Mahre, America's last World Cup winner, went on record earlier this week that Bode was FINISHED! That he was going to lose the World Cup. Even though he'd been ahead ALL SEASON! Bode didn't know how to STRATEGIZE! He was going to be beaten by Benni Raich. Who'd PACED HIMSELF! Taken a few races off. And had crept up on Miller.

What did Bode do?

He placed second in the downhill. First in the super g. Second in the giant slalom. He BLEW BENNI RAICH AWAY!

He won the World Cup. NOT by playing it safe, but by sticking it in the eye of all the naysayers. Not only Phil Mahre, but the U.S. Ski Team coach, who castigated him at the World Championships for skiing down the course on one ski after he lost his other one, tiring himself out. Sure, Bode said his leg hurt afterward, but he went on to win the VERY NEXT DAY!

Other than Don Henley, who in the HELL is battling the major labels? All I see is people kissing ass. God, sign with Clive and YOU MUST KISS ASS! You've got to do WHATEVER HE WANTS!

God, the label wants you in fashion shoots. They tell you to make promotional appearances. Even in the METALLICA movie Cliff Burstein convinces the band to do a radio spot they don't want to because you've got to play the game, in order to get AIRPLAY!

Rock stars don't play the game, they CREATE the game.

Yup, on his way to winning the World Cup, which Bode clinched earlier today, he said the whole tour was crap. That he wanted to create HIS OWN circuit!

Meanwhile, I found out Bode won the World Cup at 4 a.m. PST. Because the U.S. Ski Team, the backward jerks Bode RAILS against, has a live race report on its Website. Yup, as every skier comes down, in SWITZERLAND, his time is posted online.

That's what new technology will give you. New technology that the RECORD COMPANIES REFUSE TO EMBRACE!

Oh, we're HAMSTRUNG! We've got RIGHTS ISSUES! We've got to move SLOWLY!

Well, the CUSTOMER ain't moving so slowly. God, the customer LOVES new technology. Has EMBRACED IT! And what have the labels DONE for HIM? They've SUED him, and locked up the product with copy protection. FURTHERMORE, most of the artists are on the COMPANIES' SIDE!! INCREDIBLE!

If only we had Bode Miller in the music business. Someone, on the biggest day of his life, who didn't shave. Someone who said it didn't MATTER if he won the World Cup, EVERYBODY knew he was the best skier out there this year. Someone who DEFINED the game instead of played by the rules. THEN business would be healthy, sales would be EXPLODING!

But NO, the major labels want to take all this OUT of the game.

Andy Lack. THIS IS WHY WE HATE YOU! You think music can be COMMODITIZED! You think you can DICTATE to the artist. You CAN'T dictate to a REAL artist. A REAL artist is on an exploratory journey. That even HE'S not sure where it will take him. And, in order to SUCCEED, you've got to FAIL A BIT! Bode falls in slalom, but a major label won't let a band put out a record that they don't approve of, that doesn't test well, that doesn't research properly.

Utter crap.

Oh, I've got to tell you. Marilyn Manson was a bit of a rock star. He's smart. He's challenging the audience. Sure, it's THEATRE, but it's cutting edge.

Except for one thing. HIS MUSIC SUCKS!

The Beatles. The Eagles… They got away with all the drugs, all the women, because they were PHENOMENALLY TALENTED! The aura was the dollop of cream ON TOP OF THE MUSIC!

Oh, the major labels think they understand this. They talk about IMAGING!

You don't IMAGE an artist. That's who they ARE!

Watch Bode. During the biggest photo ops, he's got a scraggly beard. Ask a stupid question at a press conference and he insults you. Tell him what to do, and he doesn't lose his cool, he just stays calm and tells you what a jerk you are. Meanwhile, winning all the time.

In Europe, Bode Miller is a hero. Someone who's the ANTI-ski racer. Someone who's broken the mold. And is superbly great too.

FURTHERMORE, he's not the classic American representative. Saying how great the U.S.A. is, if only you'd understand it, give it a chance. No, he's constantly spouting off about Bush, about Administration policy.

God, this is what the rock stars USED to do. Before it became about the money. Before the labels convinced them that they MUST play the game.

Bode's my hero. And I don't even think it would be fun to hang with him. It's what he REPRESENTS!

I can't think of one person on MTV. Not a single so-called musician on conventional radio that I'd consider my hero.

A hero is someone you believe in. Someone you look up to. A ROLE MODEL!

And a role model is NOT someone who plays the game, who's all squeaky clean, but someone who QUESTIONS! Makes HIS OWN determinations. And follows his OWN path.

The rock stars of yore told us there was a DIFFERENT WAY! That's why everybody showed up at Woodstock.

Do you want to be on your death bed lamenting that you were a chump and played by the rules? God, then you'd be a LABEL EMPLOYEE! Or even Thomas H. Lee, raping and pillaging in traditional investment banker way.

You wouldn't be Steve Jobs. Or Warren Buffett. Or Grace Slick. Or Bode Miller.

And that's who we truly look up to. Who we look to for guidance. Who we aspire to. Who we WANT TO BE!

Contact Bob Lefsetz | View Lefsetz Letter Archives

NOTE: The views expressed in this editorial do not necessarily reflect the opinion of CelebrityAccess, Encore or its employees.