Rock n’ roll music and sports are two of the greatest things humankind has ever invented. And every once in a while these two great mediums cross paths. I was lucky to be there to see it happen more than once.
Six months into writing for ESPN’s Page 2, I had only written about quirky off-beat sports and prep football. I was contemplating the idea that my very short career as a sports writer was almost done when I had stumbled upon an opportunity.
A Chicago local –also a multi-platinum recording artist– had started a professional wrestling league that had started to get press from the Chicago Tribune and FOX Sports. An email I got said pretty simply, “don’t email me, but” if any of us Chicago Now bloggers wanted to attempt to get an interview with Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins, then to contact his press agent.
It took a little finagling and some of the good old-fashioned follow-up I’d learned during my business career. But by the next day at noon I had set up my first interview with a bona fide rock star.
The funny thing about me that most people never really understand is that, at heart, I'm really a jock.
What followed was a conversation about Corgan’s new venture as well a second interview piece about the Pumpkins’ next record called Oceania. For the next two years, ESPN let me continue to talk with musicians about their sports hankerings and fandom.
Zach Lind of Jimmy Eat World talked about growing up in the household of a Major League Baseball scout. Spoon singer Britt Daniels joked that he was a Dallas Mavericks super fan way, “way before it was cool”, and long they were world champions.
Likewise, Morrissey revealed that he wasn’t just a singer and a poet, but once an athletic lad as well. Oasis guitarist, songwriter, and founder Noel Gallagher talked about staying up late in wee hours of the English night to watch NFL football. Alice In Chains rocker Jerry Cantrell told me about his love for both fantasy football and a little sports trash talk. And Rage Against the Machine founder-guitarist Tom Morello spoke about the Cubs in the World Series and that Cubs folklore figure named Steve Bartman.
Eventually, my dabbling with rock stars led in a roundabout way to writing for Rolling Stone — strangely most of it about not music but sports.
Slide photos above used under paid license, Shuterstock.com. Feature pic of Noel Gallagher by me.