YES, it used to be ‘sex, drugs and rock n roll’ – that’s sort of a blunt summary for the lifestyle of rock stars in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Rock stars become so big that they can’t handle the pressures of stardom and succumb to one of the following, one of the three: SEX (with groupies), using DRUGS (often illegal ones besides prescribed sleeping pills and painkillers) and playing ROCK.
Michael Hutchence (of band INXS) died of sex (auto-erotic asphyxiation) and Queen band front-man Freddy (Mercury) died of sex (AIDS), Slash (of Guns N Roses) nearly died of an O.D. (drugs) and Elvis Presley the king died of drug abuse too.
The Rolling Stones won’t quit, which is a good thing, but will likely end up dropping dead with Rock n Roll (meaning: the players could drop dead on stage; as front-man Mick Jagger – who had a heart scare lately – leads the band into their 80s. A music reviewer once described how Stones guitarist Keith Richards looked, with a wisecrack: “I’ve seen better bodies in the morgue.” Richards is of course still very much alive.
Now the slogan of the new generations looks like: ‘Sex (this never changes), Phone (for food delivery) and Hit n Run (someone just snatched my smartphone).
Which brings me to sundown in Phnom Penh on a Tuesday night. So with guitar slung on my back, I grab a tuk-tuk to Street 172 where a signboard at once caught my eye: Sundance (Inn & Saloon).
Once snug inside with an Angkor draft, I am staring at the music stage but the name rings an old bell: is the name ‘Sundance’ a blast from the past? – remember the movie ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ during the Old West. American outlaw Butch (acted by Paul Newman) was a big time bank robber who went on an adventure to Bolivia with the Kid (actor Robert Redford).
Not really, inside ‘Sundance Saloon’, on the walls are huge portraits of Cambodian crooner Sinn Sisamouth and the love of his life singer Chea Sorey.
Not really, inside ‘Sundance Saloon’, on the wall are huge portraits of Cambodian crooner Sinn Sisamouth (died at 43) and female star Ros Sereysothea.
Bassac Lane across town is another animal, with music blaring from the line of pubs but the alley has live band acts too. Meantime, Sundance Saloon is really great fun – when unknown musicians hop on stage, quite unannounced, the audience will never know what song is coming on. Even the two musicians who just met on stage will never know until they agree on some melody, then the song catches fire.
Nothing but the suspense of a music jam session. You will never know.