The Show That Never Ends
"Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends."
Emerson, Lake & Palmer "Karn Evil"
Lead singers are in a focal position. There is usually nothing between them and the audience. Keyboard players and drummers can hide behind their instruments. Guitarist focus on their licks and riffs. Bass players are off to the side. But the lead singer has to put on a show. They are up front. There's no escape.
Early Rock had Elvis and his gyrations that shocked middle America. There was also Chuck Berry's duck walk and the pounding piano antics of Jerry Lee and Little Richard. All were known for high-energy performances.
When Rock shifted into high gear in the '60s, Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin let the music move them - often wildly. They danced, jumped and commanded the audience's attention.
Then along came Alice Cooper with the make-up and the horror Rock approach. Snakes, explosions and a gallows were all in the mix. David Bowie also used make up but he used it to look delicate and precious. KISS topped it off with individual character make up and costumes for each member. And don't forget the stage effects that included numerous flash pot explosions.
Rock was visual and extreme. As time went on, it just got wilder - either in terms of appearance or presentation. The advent of MTV made image and action even more vital. From Elvis to Bowie to Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson, Rockers have pushed the envelope just to find out where the edge is.