Monday, 7 October 2013

Chinese Horoscopes AAA Style (Top Twelve, News Views and Music Issue 214

Dear AAA/astrology fans, here's the much-delayed follow-up to our discussion of some key AAA Western signs we published way back as part of News, Views and Music issue 53! This time we're offering up the Eastern equivalent of Chinese Horoscopes, named after the 12 animals who deigned to come when the God Buddha called them after the creation of the world and listed - as tradition dictates - by the order in which they came. As so many of the AAA bands first came together at school, you can see more 'pockets' of them working together than we could with the Western zodiac, which isn't necessarily a good thing and might have added to their splits (similarly if you've ever been a teacher you might notice that one year of students tend to be quite similar to each other and different to other years, though stupidly the Autumn term always adds a group of 'outsider' students too). Along the way we'll be giving you a short praisee of each sign, the AAA stars who share it and whether they seem to fit the pattern. Incidentally, it won't come as any surprise to learn that our AAA Youtube Star Max The Singing Dog is - wait for it - a dog! As am I, incidentally, but I seem to be in good company...Sadly there are no AAA Tigers/Cats (depending which translation of the original horoscopes you read) - we thought for a minute there 'Lulu' was going to be one to keep with the canonicity of her song 'I'm A Tiger', but sadly no such luck! We haven't quite listed every single person whose ever been in an AAA band (that would take years!) and seeing as the official start of the Chinese New Year takes place at the end of January, but not always at the same time each year, we've left out a few AAA figures whose dates were so close to the changeover we're not quite sure which sign they're in. Most of the key figures are here though (the general rule is ever member of what fans think of as the 'key' line-up and any important later musicians who joined before or after):

Year Of The Rat (1936/48/60/72/84/96/08)]

Cat Stevens, Liam Gallagher, Bill Wyman, Lulu

Rats are traditionally the 'charmers' of the Eastern signs and are not adverse to using their charms to get their own way (many politicians tend to be 'rats', like Tony Blair - no jokes please!) (Liam Gallagher is, then, a natural rat, in the nicest possible sense)! Rats tend to enjoy working on their own and doing their own thing (hence the fact that two of our three AAA choices, all born in the different rat years of 1936, 48 and 72, are solo artists and Bill Wyman has always been treated as an 'outsider' in the Stones). Though known for their strong opinions, their bark tends to be worse than their bite (few people have ever been bitten by a rat but they still scare more than a few unsuspecting humans!) - Liam fits this bill particularly well - and they try to keep their 'real' selves hidden until some major life event brings their 'real' selves to the surface. As examples, you could give Cat's sudden personality switch from dandified teenager writing cute songs and appearing cute shorts to something deeper after falling deadly ill with TB - and Lulu's autobiography is a very 'rat' book; not because she's unkind but because the 'real' Lulu, hidden for most of the book, only reveals herself at times of true heartbreak. Bill Wyman, too, seems to have 'hidden' his deeper self well: his fellow Stones claimed they'd never really 'known' him when he quit the band 28 years after joining it.

Year Of The Ox (1937/49/61/73/85/97/09)

Mark Knopfler

The Eastern 'Ox' is the equivalent of 'Taurus' andfeatures much the same characteristics: a well-balanced, hard worker who alternates being greatly patient and in projects for the short-term with a stubborness when they don't get their own way. Oxes tend to be the 'salt of the Earth' types who take their responsibiolities seriously and love the great outdoors. There are surprisingly few AAA oxes that I can find - only Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler, who fits the idea of a 'grounded' person who hates celebrity quite well (knocking Dire Straits on the heads when they became 'too big' to go his own way)and who is also quite a 'trusted' straightforward figure, using his songs to try to make the world a better place. Note too that Mark was 29 when he made his first record - some ten years behind most artists we cover - slow and steady in contrast to some bands (like the Small Faces for example) who'd tired themselves out long before reaching that age.

Year Of The Tiger (1938/50/62/74/86/98/10)

Tigers are the Western equivalent of Leos, full of charisma, courage and generosity - the kings and queens of the jungle, whatever the lions might think. Eastern tigers aren't quite as self-serving as Western Leos, however, using their power and social standing to protect those who are weaker than themselves. Tigers tend to follow their own hearts and minds and work on their own and love being in charge. Amazingly there isn't a single AAA member among the tigers, so we can't offer any comparisons here!

Year Of The Rabbit (sometimes replaced by 'Cat') (1939/51/63/75/87/99/11)

Grace Slick, Nils Lofgren

How fitting - the bouncy trampolining active Nils Lofgren is a bouncing bonny bunny, as is Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick, who once sang about a 'white rabbit'. The mystics of the Eastern horoscope, rabbits are often talked about by others who are either devoted to them or scared by them and revered or reviled in equal measure! (If that sentence doesn't sound like Grace Slick...)Yet unlike some of the other signs here, Rabbits have a softer, harsher, artistic side and rely on their intuitions rather than logic in life. Many rabbits tend to be philosophers or priests - Grace has ben her fair share of both!

Year Of The Dragon (1940/52/64/76/88/00/12)
John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Phil Lesh

Dragons are the showmen of the Eastern horoscope, getting things done by their sheer charisma and inner power. Those people who always turn heads when they walk into a room, even if they aren't actually doing anything, Dragons are as grand as grand can be and can be a worthy ally for those who need protection - although most 'mere' animals around them tend to get singed by accident! John Lennon is your template dragon, breathing fire with every word he says, although often using his abilities for the good of others and protecting 'lesser' beings. The Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh, too, is known as being a great friend to those who think like him - and a bitter enemy to those who don't (as more than a few producers and engineers down the years will attest!) Ringo seems a less likely dragon, although dragons are known for their vanity and their collections of fine clothes and jewellery, which might explain his love of rings!

Year Of The Snake (1941/53/65/77/89/01/13)

David Crosby, Mike Love, Paul Kantner, Charlie Watts, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel

Snakes tend to be the more shadowy figures of the Chinese horoscope. Combining the charm of the rat, sparkle of the dragon and the powerof the tiger, snakes tend to come out on top, though they get their message across more quietly than all the three signs. Traditionally there's often been something of the 'dark' about this sign (snakes generally mean something bad for mankind, from the garden of Eden onwards), though more moden scholars tend to see the snakes as being above rather than apart from everyone else - they just happen to be less emotional than other signs or at least hide their emotions well and use their intelligence more. No two snakes ever seem to be like another and that's true fo our six AAA examples too, who could not be more different: the happy-go-lucky Stones drummer Charlie Watts seems a world away from the brooding Paul Simon, the brash Beach Boys singer Mike Love or the ultimate in hippie philosophers David Crosby and Paul Kantner, for instance. Perhaps their characters are just too slippy for us to get a hold of...

Year Of The Horse (1942/54/66/78/90/02)

Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Roger McGuinn, Graham Nash, Allan Clarke, Marty Balin, Mike Nesmith, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin

Horses tend to be the workaholics of the Eastern horoscope who put huge amounts of effort into their careers. perhaps that's why so many of them became 'stars' - on our AAA list alone they easily 'win' in terms of quantity, their energy ensuring they always reach the top. The trouble is that, with all that enthusiasm, horses don't often see projects through to the end and do tend to be bad losers, feeling the 'highs' and 'lows' of life very easily (note the fact that two of the AAA Horses died young). Generally helpful and loyal, horses are known to kick when they think someone is trying to 'ride' them to somewhere they don't want to go (see Mike Nesmith sticking his fist through Don Kirshner's wall or the Clarke-Nash standoffs that saw a close childhood friendship tear apart) and often they'll simply 'drop' a career when it suits them or switch to another completely when bored (Jefferson Airplane's Marty Balin left the band at the last minut - twice - while Paul McCartney's recorded in every style going). Beach Boys Brian Wilson and Al Jardine don't seem to fit the pattern, however - you wouldn't expect to find many 'horses' in bed for decades after nervous breakdowns or taking as much in their stride as the more easy-going Jardine did.

Year Of The Goat (1943/55/67/79/91/03)

George Harrison, Jerry Garcia, Peter Tork, Noel Gallagher, Roger Waters, Rick Wright, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bert Jansch, Phil Oakey

The goats are the philosophers and artists of the Eastern signs and traditionally are said to have a natiural affinity with music, so it's no surprise that they are our second-busiest year. In fact all of the entries on this list could be termed 'hippies' of one kind or another - peaceful, easy-going types who believe in artistic and creative endeavours over material gain. However, goats are difficult to lead and keep control of, being the passive-aggressive types (something the other Beatles must have felt a few times over - and which Jerry's Grateful Dead bandmates felt whenever they tries to pin their 'leader' down to a decision!) However of all the signs the goat's 'vision' is the closest to the 1960s philosophy of peace and progress - note the fact that two of the biggest 60s-sounding post-60s writers (The Human League's Phil Oakey and Oasis' Noel Gallagher) were born under this sign too. Interestingly, though, at least three of the names above don't fit - Roger Waters might have started his career in the summer of love but his dog-eat-dog approach doesn'tg exactly fit the goat image (though his anti-education and war rants do) and who would have guessed that the two chief Rolling Stones were born not under struttiong roosters or charismatioc dragons but peacenik goats?!

Year Of The Monkey (1944/56/68/80/92/04)

Dennis Wilson, Stuart Murdoch, Gene Clark, Stephen Stills, Ray Davies, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle

That sociable person you met at the party who just wouldn't stop talking even though you'd never met - they were probably a 'monkey', the most sociable of the Chinese horoscopes. Characters with a lot to say and not enough time to say it in, they are traditionally the most intelligent and multi-tasked of all signs (Stephen Stills was nicknamed 'Captain Manyhands' by his colleagues for his ability to juggle tasks, something that suits most of the other 'monkeys' on this list too!) However Monkeys do suffer from a slight superiority complex and don't have the empathy of other signs, unable to understand why anyone should have a different outlook to their own. The ever chatty Roger Daltrey and Dennis Wilson suit this sign well, often doing party pieces or 'tricks' to amuse guests, although three names don't seem to fit the 'sociable' type (especially 'the quiet one' John Entwistle). What he does have in common, though, along with Ray Davies and Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch, is a high intelligence and mental capacity.

Year Of The Rooster (1945/57/69/81/93/05)

Tony Hicks, Alan Hull, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Syd Barratt, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, Pete Townshend, Yoko Ono, Pigpen

Roosters are the 'show-offs' of the Chinese horoscope who love nothing more than to look good - except to be seen looking good. Davy Jones is your typical rooster, showing off their best moves at the drop of a hat (or, so he once admitted, 'every time the fridge light comes on at home'). At their best roosters are the most committed of all the signs, putting their heart and soul into projects they believe in - at their worst they're brutally frank, unwilling to compromise over ideas they don't think work or soften their blunter edges. Note the sheer amount of AAA stars on this list who are famous for their 'hard' image (Yoko, Pete, Pigpen) - although at the same time there's a playful quality that also makes them great fun to be with (when they're not using their blunt tongue!) (see, err, Yoko, Pete, Micky, who doesn't seem to have that rooster bluntness). Deeply eccentric (because they believe in their own views over most other people's), roosters also tend to be the most conservative of beings, afraid to upset traditions for the sake of it: the Dead's Pigpen, for instance, may have been the counter-culture;s pin-up for a few years but he was a blues traditionalist who stopped listening to music somewhere around world war two!

Year Of The Dog (1946/58/70/82/94/06)

Carl Wilson, Justin Hayward, David Gilmour, Ronnie Lane, Graham Gouldman, Keith Moon, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Bil Kreutzmann

Someone has to worry about where their careers are heading: when the Monkeys are out gossiping to the media, the goats are doing something aryistic but uncommercial and the pigs are in the bar having fun, someone has to have a creaive vision and think about how best to keep warring band members together long enough to get 'deep messages' across for the good of humanity. Note the sheer amount of bass players in our AAA list above - traditionally the instrument keeping the band together, although dogs do have their fair share of the spotlight, they make sure its fair and that they are part of a 'band' (and what with the eccentric bass playing of 'dragon' Phil Lesh I count Dead drummer Bill Kreutzman as an honorary bassist!) Note Carl Wilson, who kept the Beach Boys together a good 30 years past the point where they naturally imploded and Graham Gouldman and Ronnie Lane quietly working behind the scenes to keep 10cc and the Small Faces, respectively, together. You could add in Justin Hayward, who under a different sign would have shot straight to solo stardom the minute the Moody Blues broke-up (and he scored several solo singles), but no - Justin returned conscientiously back to his old band. There are twonames who don't seem to fit the pattern: Gilbert O'Sullivan had no band to belong to but does fit the 'dog' mixture of carefree eccentricity and anxiety well; Keith Moon, surely, seems to belong to another sign entirely (if ever I thought 'there goes a Monkey' about a person...err in context of writing this article, of course!), but is known for his darker, edgier side. was all that fun and games and boozy parties simply an attenpt to fill that canine-created void?

Year Of The Pig (sometimes replaced with 'boar) (1947/59/71/83/95/07)

Bob Weir, Dave Davies, Steve Marriott, Lawrence Creme

Pigs are the type of people who believe the best of people and of themselves, easily distracted by life's little luxuries and easily conned out of their fortunes and broken promises, time and time again. Many other signs though would regard them as the easiest of signs and the best to spend time with: they don't expect the world to revolve round them like the tigers and dragons or exist outside it like the rats and goats and aren't trying to manipulate someone like the monkeys. Any chinese horoscope scholars could do much worse than read Dave Davies' autobiography 'Kink' : no one else has ever been that honest, that gullible (for his 'monkey' brother Ray at least) and that likeable all at once. Pigs are as honest and straightforward as they come, often putting their own careers on hold if they believe in someone else's more, and tend to be great humanists. All four of our AAA stars (except perhaps Steve Marriott) had a central role in their bands but as a 'second-in-command', helping other people take the spotlights despite relishing it when it falls on them. Marriott, the one exception on our list, would seem to be more of a natural dragon or tiger, but did have a taste for the pig luxuries in life and sadly was taken advantage of by more than one unscrupulous manager down the years.

Well, that's all for another issue - if you think we've missed out an important point or want us to go into more detail (there's enough information here for a whole series of articles, but we don't want to bore everyone!) then drop us a line! In the meantime, whatever sign you are, you'll be able to find more news, views and music next week! See you then!

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