We hear a lot about liberal musicians rallying for Obama or Occupying Wall Street. But with the exception of country music and Kid Rock, we don’t see too many long-haired, leather-clad rockers teeing off at the country club to fight for the status quo. As far as the GOP is concerned, popular music, from protest songs to punk rock, may simply seem to be another arm of the massive global liberal media conspiracy. While we appreciate this common-sense takedown of the bafflingly literal manner in which the media has interpreted Nicki Minaj’s recent lyrical endorsement of Mitt Romney, here’s a list of ten musicians who you may be surprised to learn have at some point actually embraced a conservative political stance.
Punk rock godfather Johnny Ramone shocked many of his safety pin-pierced fans in 2002 when he came out as an NRA-supporting, George Bush-endorsing GOP devotee. In a Washington Times interview, he attributed the origin of his right-wing sympathies to his contrarian punk attitude, which at a young age led him to reject the popular appeal of John F. Kennedy’s handsome face.
There’s nothing in the rock ‘n’ roll rulebook that says you can’t cap off a long, macabre career of fake blood and shock rock horror with a born-again rebound. Although Cooper doesn’t identify as a full-fledged Republican — insisting that he’s an apolitical Christian — he gained notoriety a few years back for his outspoken criticism of other musicians’ anti-Bush campaigning. As he stated in a Washington Post article, “[I]f I wasn’t already a Bush supporter, I would have immediately switched. Linda Ronstadt? Don Henley? Geez, that’s a good reason right there to vote for Bush.”
That’s right, the Purple One, the artist flamboyantly known as Prince, is against same-sex marriage — which makes sense, given the fact that he became a Jehovah’s Witness in 2001. Prince’s right-wing political orientation seems to follow directly from his conservative religious beliefs, which, as the Guardian reports, entails quite a sea change for the man who wrote the notoriously risqué lyrics to “Gett Off.” As Prince told The New Yorker , “God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.'”
Although she has disavowed any political affiliation, Cuban-American singer Gloria Estefan and her husband have been frequently reported to be registered Republicans. And although she voted for Obama and hosted a fundraising event for him in April 2010, she expressed interest in Herman Cain’s “common sense” campaign message on The Howard Stern Show last fall.
Back in January, Kiss frontman Gene Simmons, a strong supporter of the invasion of Iraq during the Bush administration, expressed to Fox News his regrets over endorsing Obama in 2008. He also announced that he would be supporting Mitt Romney for the 2012 presidential election, stating: “America should be in business and it should be run by a businessman.”
Meat Loaf will do anything for love, but he won’t do that, especially if “that” entails raising taxes. In an interview with Esquire , the famous operatic rocker discusses facing discrimination for his conservative political orientation.
We saw the former Metallica guitarist and Megadeath frontman Dave Mustaine endorse ultra-conservative ideologue Rick Santorum back in February in an interview with Music Radar. But more recently, the Huffington Post reports Mustaine made the insanely outrageous claim while on tour that President Obama “staged” both the Aurora, CO and Sikh Temple shootings in order to garner support for a nefarious plot to ban guns.
The Beach Boys
Ronald Reagan once called the Beach Boys “America’s band,” and indeed all those sun-drenched hooks evoke something of an endless summer of conservative nostalgia. The band famously headlined a fundraiser for the 1984 Republican convention, played a private fundraiser for Romney in 2008, and have recently had their music featured quite prominently on the Romney campaign trail. The New York Times ran a piece last month on the “twin legacies” of the experimental Brian Wilson and the more artistically conservative Mike Love, paralleling their political history and suggesting that art and politics are not always easily reconciled.
The master of the drum solo, Rush lyricist and drummer Neil Peart was once a follower of the arch-conservative pseudo-philosopher Ayn Rand. Although Peart has cast off his Objectivist past, he told Rolling Stone in an interview this past June that he now identifies as a “bleeding heart Libertarian,” which sounds almost as paradoxical as a conservative punk.
The mid-’90s vocalist for the Misfits, Michale Graves is credited with founding the “conservative punk” movement and was featured on The Daily Show back in 2004 as an ardent defender of this apparently marginalized community of Republican punk rockers. Graves has since shifted to a more libertarian conservatism, having endorsed Ron Paul for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.