Rock stars suffer many reputations.
Sometimes the reputation (good or bad) is earned and well-deserved, sometimes it is fabricated by writers and fans, sometimes it is fabricated by a management team. Whatever causes the reputation to spread, it is hard to combat it once it's out there. Like the proverbial horse out of the open barn door, it's almost impossible to undo what is done.
There are exceptions, of course. Drug-addicted and/or alcoholic rock stars who get clean and/or sober often enjoy a new reputation in recovery.
This reminds me of a conversation I had a few years ago.
I was making the statement you hear so often: that band's music was better before they got sober. My companion at the time said, well the such-and-such record was an excellent release and that was long after they got sober.
Then I realized that it wasn't their sobriety that changed my interest in the music or that made their music less engaging for me, it was the fact that I had out-grown that band's music. They had started releasing records when I was fourteen-years-old and I loved every record they released until I was in my early twenties, when I stopped listening to them. Some years later, on the verge of total collapse, they cleaned-up and re-formed and started making new records.
I listened to the new records and found them boring.
In reality, the music and songs were as good as, or better than, the records I'd loved as a teenager, but I just wasn't into that music anymore.
So, that band getting sober had no bearing whatsoever on me liking and disliking their music from one era or another: my tastes had changed.
That band's reputation had been of hard partying, crazy benders, loose women, piles of drugs, fast cars, and near-death experiences. They went from being really cool bad-boys to pathetic drug-addicts, and their reputation stayed in the gutter for sometime.
They managed, through hard work and serious spiritual recovery, to rescue their collective reputation and embark on a new career playing their brand of music to an audience that accepted them as recovering drug-addicts. They've made millions and they enjoy a good reputation today and are considered serious adults and active members of society.
Other rock stars have carefully crafted and managed their image and reputation.
David Bowie has managed a career that has taken him from glam god to rock god with so many stops in-between that casual listeners do not understand the breadth of his catalog.
He is also a very generous rock star who appears at benefit concerts, donates money to charities that are not always the most populist, and he seems to take good care of those around him.
I found this story heart-warming:
David Bowie helped Marc Bolan's son survive