What Being A 'Rock Star' Used To Mean, According To Sebastian Bach

Sebastian Bach's new autobiography chronicles the endangered "rock star" lifestyle.

Sebastian Bach ― the former lead singer of Skid Row, Broadway actor, and occasional TV star in shows such as “Gilmore Girls” and “Trailer Park Boys” ― closes his just released autobiography, 18 and Life on Skid Row, with his concerns about “rock stardom.”

“The term ‘rock star’ has changed so very much from when I was a teenager,” Bach writes. “Now, guys with computer programs, hedge fund managers, athletes, and even presidents are called rock stars ... Well, it bugs me when a fucking dentist gets called a rock star. It bugs me when Kris Jenner calls Kim Kardashian a rock star. And it bugs me even more when Kanye West calls himself a rock star.”

On the phone with The Huffington Post, Bach clarified that this frustration essentially comes from losing ownership over his job title. “If a real rock star calls himself a rock star, he’s a dick,” Bach said with laughter. “Other people say, ‘Well, people in bands who call themselves rock stars are just assholes.’ I’m like, what the fuck?”

As one of the last true “rock stars” ― in that classic sense he longs for ― Bach’s confusion is understandable, and his autobiographical book makes this clear. Publicists and fans heaped the label and lifestyle onto his shoulders in a way that would have made using any other job title but “rock star” nonsense for multiple years of Bach’s life. 

Early on, Billboard labeled Bach and his band “The New Bad Boys of Rock,” a title Bach didn’t expect to be given. “That label has always been put on me as a marketing thing,” said Bach on the phone. “I didn’t realize that I was a bad boy of rock. [Laughs] I thought, well I guess I better live up to this somehow, because that’s like my job description, I suppose. You can have some fun along the way, but it’s a fine line between having fun and getting your nose broke by The Hells Angels.”

Sebastian Bach in 2016.
Sebastian Bach in 2016.

His book features many tales from the touring road that accurately depict the foregone rock-star lifestyle. “There’s lots of fights in the book,” said Bach. “I didn’t realize there were so many fights until I read [the narration for] the audiobook. I was like, ‘Holy shit, this is fucking crazy!’”

But despite there being many sensational anecdotes for any fan of rock stars during the late-’80s and early-’90s era, Bach also frames 18 and Life on Skid Row as a story of losing innocence.

He recalls meeting his former childhood heroes, such as guitarist Ted Nugent and KISS founder Paul Stanley, and these encounters didn’t tend to go as he hoped they would when he was younger.

“I’m a kid [at the beginning of the book], so I believe everything is great and everything’s perfect,” Bach told HuffPost. “Then as you get older, as we all do as adults, we find out stuff we believed as a kid might not be true. And that’s not just rock ‘n’ roll, I think that’s part of going from childhood to adulthood.”

Bach now takes on roles in theater and on television ― appearing recently on Netflix’s “Gilmore Girls” reboot ― but also continues his work as a touring music act. His job title remains, authentically, a “rock star.”



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