Duff McKagan: Leave It to Bieber

If your daughter gets the Bieber bug, the whole family catches it.

I have a daughter, Grace, who turns 13 this summer. I have borne witness firsthand to the changing paradigm of how kids these days get turned on to new music, through everything from YouTube to the Disney Channel. Grace finds pretty hip stuff, and has turned me on to to bands like Phoenix, Le Roux, the xx, and many more. But she isn’t immune to the really commercial pop stuff (neither am I, actually!).

Six years ago it was all about Britney Spears, until she got too “skanky,” according to Grace. High School Musical was a huge deal for her, and I remember having to find a hotel in New York that had the Disney Channel so that we could see the world premiere of High School Musical 2 back when that came out. It would have been a huge blow to her if we hadn’t gotten to see that on the premiere night.

The Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana have come and gone in her “what is cool” file, and now it is all about Justin Bieber. And this time it’s different.

If you are not aware of Justin Bieber or the corresponding Bieber Fever that has been overtaking teenage girls, then I guess perhaps you have been living under some kind of media-muted rock. This shit is huge. It must be like the Shaun Cassidy or Leif Garrett things that happened in the ’70s. Just sheer screaming-girl mania.

The Bieber is playing Everett’s Comcast Arena next Tuesday, July 13, and Grace is going crazy. I happen to be friends with Justin Bieber’s tour manager, which means Grace stands a good chance of meeting him. She knows that his favorite songs on RockBand and Guitar Hero are by Guns N’ Roses, my former band. Grace is hoping and scheming to use these angles so that The Bieber will go down on one knee that night and ask her to marry him. She knows that his favorite eye color is blue (she has blue eyes). She knows that his favorite sport is hockey (she is, as I write, learning everything she can about hockey).

She has already informed her mom and myself that we are not to plan anything for the two days leading up to the show, because she needs this time to get ready. Two whole days?! When I question her about what the hell could take two whole days, she gives me the look that solidifies the fact that we men don’t know the first thing about our opposite gender. Not a damn thing…

There was a time when rock tours sold out arenas, and tours came through town all the time. It is rare these days for a bona-fide rock band to do an arena tour here in the States. Green Day, Metallica, and the Foo Fighters can do it, but few others. No, the real arena acts these days are things like Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, and The Bieber. I guess TV is the great difference-maker. MTV used to play music videos 24 hours a day, and these videos acted as commercials to whet the appetite for a ready youth market. These days, it’s all about the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon and the products they push.

My friend, Bieber’s tour manager, says that every arena is sold out, and that they are averaging $27 per person on merchandise sold at those venues. These young kids tug on their parents’ pant legs with hopeful eyes and get what they want. Trust me, I am one of those dads who will buy the tour program or shirt for their daughter. We parents are suckers for that kind of thing, for sure. Do the math here—20,000 people a night x $27. On top of what they are already making in ticket receipts. They are printing money over there. But that is off-topic.

This whole Bieber Fever is awfully damn sweet and cute and innocent. Heck, if nothing else, I scored some bonus “cool” points with Grace. Justin Bieber likes my old band. He can’t be all THAT bad.


Duff McKagan is a Seattle native and the former bassist for Guns N’ Roses. He contributes to our music blog, Reverb, every Monday and Thursday.