Useful to consider in the light of theories such as McQuail's uses and gratifications, and the whole idea of fans forming part of their identity through their musical allegiances.
Dixie Chicks, Morrissey, Donna Summer, Moe Tucker and Eric Clapton all faced a backlash when they surprised their audiences with unexpected views
Guitar-strumming Michelle Shocked used to be beloved by beardy folk fans and granary lefties. So it came as a curveball at a gig on Sunday night when she put down her acoustic guitar, pushed aside the mung beans and delivered an astonishingly anti-gay rant that claimed "same-sex marriage will be the downfall of civilisation". And which city did she choose to air these "robust" views? Only gay capital San Francisco.
Yet Shocked isn't the first musician to, well, shock her fans by revealing surprising views ...
Dixie ChicksThe mild-mannered Texan country trio were monstered by the US rightwing and blacklisted by American radio after gently criticising George Bush in 2003. On tour in London shortly before the invasion of Iraq, lead vocalist Natalie Maines said: "Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We don't want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed the president is from Texas." Public protests saw their CDs bulldozed into the ground. The band later posed naked for the cover of Entertainment Weekly with slogans such as "Traitors",
"Saddam's Angels", "Dixie Sluts", "Proud Americans" and "Free Speech" daubed on their bodies. To their further credit, they named their subsequent documentary after one criticism: Shut Up and Sing.
MorrisseyThe Smiths frontman was a figurehead for the shy, soft, disaffected and bed-wetting back in the 80s. However, his solo career and advancing years have tested the patience of even fanatical devotees. His controversies started with early solo tracks including Bengali In Platforms and National Front Disco. He came onstage at Madness' 1992 Madstock! gig in Finsbury Park carrying a Union flag – with two female skinheads pictured on his stage backdrop. The quiffy contrarian has since contended that "the Chinese are a sub-species" for their treatment of animals, that Beyoncé's handbag choices are partly responsible for endangering rhinos and Anders Breivik's mass murder in Norway was "nothing compared to what happens in McDonald's and KFC every day". Oh, Moz, you mad old muppet.
Donna SummerThe Queen Of Disco had a devoted gay following but proceeded to alienate them after she became a born-again Christian in her 30s. At a 1983 gig, she was alleged to have said Aids was a punishment from God for the lifestyles of homosexual people but later angrily denied making such comments. However, she seemed to admit some blame in 1989 when, in a letter to campaign group ACT UP, Summer wrote that it was "a terrible misunderstanding ... If I have caused you pain, forgive me".
Moe TuckerMaureen Tucker used to stand up and pound the drums in the Velvet Underground, one of the coolest bands of all time. So beatniks, hepcats and chin-stroking musos were stunned in 2010 when she turned up to a Tea party rally in Georgia because she was "furious about the way we're being led towards socialism". The footage went viral and Tucker, now 66, felt moved to respond: "I'm stunned that so many people who call themselves liberal yet are completely intolerant … Peace, love, bull! You disagree and you're immediately called a fool, a Nazi, a racist. That's pretty f***ed up!" Um, OK. We were only going to make an "All Tomorrow's Tea Parties" gag …
You'd think Old Slow-Hand would be a liberal kind of dude, after scoring his first No 1 with a 1974 cover of Bob Marley's I Shot The Sheriff. Two year later, though, Clapton made a drunken declaration of support for Tory minister Enoch "Rivers Of Blood" Powell, telling a crowd in Birmingham that the country had "become overcrowded" and they should vote for Powell to prevent Britain becoming "a black colony".
In case anyone was unclear, Clapton added that Britain should "get the wogs out" and shouted the National Front slogan "Keep Britain White". His comments inadvertently did some good, as they inspired the founding of the Rock Against Racism campaign. Clapton is also somewhat anti-Brian May, supporting the Countryside Alliance and publicly opposing the fox-hunting ban. Perhaps he and May could settle it with a guitar solo battle.