Rock's Short List (5' 8" and Under)
Fri May 22, 2009
Shawn Amos in GetBack
The world's a cruel place for a short dude. Barred from basketball, left off firefighter shortlists, and unable to ride Space Mountain, his life is a never-ending "you must be this tall to ride" sign.
Music is the only place a short dude can go for salvation. While most athletic teams, branches of the armed forces, and theme parks have height requirements, bands do not. A 5-foot-tall dude may never be starting guard for the Lakers, but there's nothing preventing him from shredding a solo at Madison Square Garden. He may get overlooked at the McDonald's counter trying to order a Happy Meal, but he's always 10 feet tall on the JumboTron.
Some say short dudes compensate for their lack of height by becoming overachievers or hostile. Or both. It's not my job to psychoanalyze just to lay out some selectively chosen facts that make my case the way I want.
So I present you with Rock's Short List. Randy Newman was wrong. Short people DO have reason to live. It's rock 'n' roll.
Prince (5' 2")
One of the most diminutive musicians around, Prince makes up for his height by wearing high heels, playing every instrument on his recordings, and making sure none of his women are taller than him - and wear flats.
John Mellencamp (5' 7")
The former Johnny Cougar fits the profile of an angry short dude. He was arrested at age eight for breaking and entering, started his first band at 14, and lost a college job for using profanity. To complicate the theory, though, his wife is supermodel Elaine Irwin, who stands at 5 feet 11 inches.
Bono (5' 7 1/2")
Bono is the classic overachiever. He's determined to be in the biggest rock band in the world, save said world, and receive all of its accolades (he's the only person to be nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Grammy, and Nobel Peace Prize). If the dude was 6 feet 1 inches tall, we wouldn't know who he is.
Thom Yorke (5' 5 1/4")
The Radiohead singer's height is overshadowed by another physical trait: his left eye, which was closed shut at birth. Yorke underwent five operations by the time he was six to correct it. He was left with a drooping eyelid.
Angus Young (5' 2")
The 54-year-old AC/DC guitarist has played the instrument since he was five. And he's dressed in a schoolboy uniform the whole time. It's the perfect way to get people to ignore your adolescent height: just dress like a kid.
Roger Daltrey (5' 7")
Within The Who, Daltrey had a reputation for quickly punching anyone who disagreed with him, including the 6-foot-tall Pete Townshend. He also gets around the height issue by swinging his microphone around his head onstage. It adds a couple feet at least.
Ronnie James Dio (5' 4")
Dio sings so loudly and looks so satanic that no one would notice his elfin height. That is, unless you paid attention to some of those early band names, like Electric Elves and Elf. Those were unfortunate.
Iggy Pop (5' 7 1/2")
Iggy's bare-chested stage antics distract from any height issues his fans may possess. Between the self-mutilation, stage-diving, and self-exposure, who's counting inches (no pun intended)?
Paul Simon (5' 3")
Simon and his duo partner, Art Garfunkel, have famously feuded for more than 40 years. Some say the tension was caused by Garfunkel's acting career. Others say it was Art's jealousy of Simon's solo success. I say it's Simon being overshadowed by a dude who's 6 feet tall - 6 feet 5 inches with the Jewfro.
Bob Marley (5' 7")
The Rastaman was proof that big things come in small packages. Marley is as close to a musical deity as you can get. He had a sound and a message that transcended mere mortals. And with his lion's mane of dreadlocks, you'd think you were standing in front of a giant.