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The Times Magazine

9th January 2018

The story behind the picture

Rock stars in (reasonably and otherwise price) cars

[Photo caption – Debbie Harry, Chevrolet Camaro, 1977]

A Learjet is all very well, but rock’s high-flyers know that when it comes to kudos, four wheels trump two wings. And they still make a hell of a status symbol.
Not every image in music writer David Roberts’ gallery of rock’s auto-crazy screams conspicuous consumption. Debbie Harry inherited the Camaro coupe (above) from her mother. The Chevy propping up Bob Dylan near his upstate New York home (far right) may have been his neighbour’s. Nor did this pick-up (right) belong to Jimi Hendrix – he and Neil Young stole it en route to the Woodstock festival. Some of these vehicles were promotional props. The Stones look at home in a 1955 Cadillac, driving towards the Brooklyn Bridge during their Bridges to Babylon tour. Rather more incongruous is the Ferrari paired with ethereal Kate Bush around the time of her debut album, A Kick Inside.
Of course, celebrities’ cars can also be extensions of their personalities – and their overdrafts. Pete Townshend claimed he saved for five years to purchase his modest Merc. And John Lennon’s psychedelic Phantom V eventually proved a sound investment – it was sold at Sotheby’s in 1985 for $2.3 million, making it the most expensive car in the world at the time. KEVIN GRANT

Rock Stars’ Cars by David Roberts (Red Planet, £12.99)

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