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Rock n’ Roll and Gambling – What’s the Deal?

| 16 January 2018 | Reply

Rock n’ Roll and Gambling – What’s the Deal?

Isn’t it funny the way certain parts of our culture fit together so well that they almost seem inseparable? There’s the old sex, drugs and Rock n’ Roll connection of course, but less attention is paid to the link between this great genre and the world of gambling. We thought this was rather intriguing and that we ought to look into the matter….

“If you like to gamble, I tell you I’m your man, you win some, lose some, it’s all the …” if you couldn’t complete the lyric then you should hang your head in shame as Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” is not a track any reader of this magazine should not be able to rattle off in their sleep. Anyway, the point is that one of the most famous Rock lyrics of all time is centred around gambling, and this is very telling.

Now in fact, when asked about his gambling tastes, Lemmy said he preferred the one-arm bandits to the table games but that “you can’t really sing about spinning fruit”! Either way he’d have been well away with the amazing range of online gaming available today as there’s plenty of poker, blackjack and spinning fruit- none of which was around when the track was released in 1980.

Dear Lemmy wasn’t alone of course. (Incidentally there’s a great interview with him here from back in 2010 before he passed away.)The rather more soulful Bob Dylan presented the tale of “Rambling Gambling Willie”. You may recall that the eponymous gambler had “twenty-seven children, yet he never had a wife”. Shocking to our modern sensibilities this may be, though we later find out that he “supported all his children and their mothers too” and also “spread his money far and wide, to help the sick and poor”, so he’s almost a Robin Hood sort of figure… in a way.

Then what about The Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice” in which Jagger proclaims: “Baby, I can’t stay, you got to roll me and call me the tumblin’ dice.”? The list could go on and on as there are innumerable allusions to gambling throughout the history of Rock, but the real question is: why?

Optreden Rolling Stones in het Feijenoordstadion, Rotterdam; Mick Jagger , kop
*2 juni 1982

Well it must all come down to psychology. The Rock n’ Roll zest for life has much in common with the joie de vivre found in casinos- just think of the glamour and bright lights of Vegas. The focus is on excitement, not tedium: enjoyment, not boredom. The pleasurable electric jolt of the opening chords of Def Leppard’s “Photograph” produces a similar sensation to the thrill of watching the roulette ball spin and spin before finally dropping into the slot. (Check out the video for “Photograph” here by the way, to be transported back to the incomparable raunchiness of ‘83!)

Both Rock n’ Roll and gambling make one feel alive and remind one what it is to be human. There’s nothing quite like them for getting that adrenalin pumping, transcending the humdrum, ultra-civilised, nine-to-five existence and feeling your heart race and the blood pump through your system!



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