I heard on American Public Media's Weekend America that the city of Baltimore is declaring today Frank Zappa day, in honor of the weird-rock master's winter solstice birthday. They used the story as a lead-in to the long struggle to bring to Baltimore a replica of the Zappa bust in Lithuania's Vilnius central square. Apparently Vinius is full of Zappa memorials, thanks to a thriving Zappa fan club based in the Lithuanian capital. The Zappa bust made me wonder about what other places have immortalized rock stars, and why. One of the most popular American music statues, I'd think, is the Hendrix statue nearby Seattle's Broadway Performance Hall, which makes sense considering Jimi was born there. Outside the U.S., Fidel and co. unveiled a John Lennon statue in 2000 the center of Havana, currently being outdone by the tacky but well meaning Imagine Peace Tower dedicated in Lennon's memory in Iceland.
The realest ones—in my opinion—stand as memorials for musicians who's lives ended way too son. For example there's a statue of late Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott on Dublin's Grafton Street—dedicated to him on what would have been his 56th birthday, had he survived his 1986 liver and kidney infection. There's another bust in London suburb Barnes of T.Rex Marc Bolan (of T. Rex fame) commemorating his life, which ended two weeks before his 30th birthday after his car ran head-on into a tree.
On the local front, Johnny Ramone was immortalized in bronze at the Hollywood Forever cemetery in early 2005 not too far from his grave. The statue was ordered by Johnny Ramone himself, partially as a joke and I guess self-hero-worship?
But the lightest and strangest rock star memorials of all are in the places you'd least expect to find them. Montreux, Switzerland erected a statue of Queen's Freddie Mercury in 1996. The nearly ten-foot-high statue stands with one fist in the air—in full bombast—looking out on Lake Geneva. Serbian village Zitiste is home to the most awkward musician statue I've ever seen: it's of a strange, shiny and pastel-adorned Bob Marley that raises a loud, defiant fist into the air. They've also erected statues for Sylvester Stallone as Rocky, which the BBC says was "in a bid to shake off a run of bad luck. A series of floods and landslides had led some people to believe the village was jinxed." Not that Baltimore is cursed, but in these tough economic times, a Zappa statue might bring our suffering nation some good luck? One can hope.
[Image taken by flickr user Suitablyawesome and used under a Creative Commons License]