By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
The legend speaks for itself, and so does ?the Legend himself, uninhibitedly and scabrously. On the eve of a long awaited, career-spanning biopic (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, opening December 21), Dewey Cox tells all and then some. In a frankly revealing conversation about his wild, adventure-filled ?life, Cox addresses his countless loves, and the buzzing highs and devastating lows of his 30-plus-year career, from his hardscrabble roots as an Alabama farm boy turned budding pop idol to his longtime advocacy work on behalf of midgets. “Walk Hard,” he sang. Walk hard — and rock hard — is what he did.
L.A. WEEKLY: Dewey, you began your career as a 14-year-old rocker, just barely out of diapers. At that early point, did you have any idea how much your music would end up altering the very cultural fabric of our nation?
DEWEY COX: Actually, as a child I knew that if I was just given the chance that I would change the world. So, yeah, I was fully aware of it, and I actually had my first album planned out, I had the title picked out even though I had not written the songs yet.
Walk Hard. It’s been your creed and your code. “Walk bold: You gotta keep that vision in your mind’s eye?.?.?.”
How do you keep that vision in mind? Where does this rage to live come from? Deep inside?
Well, you’re just at the top of one peak and look to the next one, I suppose, or the vision is the next thing you want to accomplish, whether it’s a song or, you know, a woman that you’d like to bed — whatever it is that you set your sights on, that’s the thing you’ve gotta keep in your mind, and you’ve gotta keep out the things that are telling you not to do those things, you know. Unless you have taken a strong psychoactive drug, in which case you can’t trust your mind at all, and so you should just not think, if you can just wait for the chemicals to pass. I learned that from PCP.
If you can’t trust your mind in those situations, can you trust your body?
Oh, no. You can’t trust your body at all. So it’s best to keep women away from you if you have altered your mind. Can you trust your body? Well, you gotta trust your body if you get sick or something, you know, if your body is telling you something. But you asked me, “Where does this rage to live come from?” Well, I have been told by my personal doctor that most of the rage that I have is located in my gall bladder. And I asked him, “Can I have that removed?” And he said, “No, you would die if you had that removed.” So I guess without rage, I would die.
Unfortunately, my rage is married to my gall bladder; that’s where it’s physically located in my body. Where it’s located in my life is in the people that cross me and the people that are out to get me, which some days seems like everyone.
Do you think that might have a little bit to do with your imagination? Or ?are there really people who want to harm you?
Those are not imaginary. Those are photographs and profiles that my helpers have collected, that are proven agents of destruction out to get Cox.
You’ve been involved in a lot of controversial issues. You went through a very political period later on in your career.
I did, yeah.
I’m done with that now. Enough. Gonna let these people solve their own problems, you know?
Let’s go back to the beginning. Tell me about your parents.
Well, you know, all these journalists, that’s all they wanna do, they wanna go look in the past, you know. Why don’t we get together and talk about the future, talk about the things we could invent? Let’s talk about things that would change the world, could make things better, you know?
The past is nothing but a goodbye. Bobby Zimmerman said that best, he said, “She’s got everything she needs, she’s an artist, she don’t look back.” And I heard that and I said, “You know, I don’t care for most of his music, but that line right there I just might steal someday.”
People want to know about your past, your childhood, because they’re aware of certain crucial factors in your family history that might have been a catalyst, in part, for all this rage — or drive — that you have.
For example, your relationship with your father.
Yeah, well, there ain’t much of a relationship there, you know. And that’s something I have some regret about. You know, everybody needs a dad, but I’m planning on working that out with my own kids, you know, discovering what it is to be a dad by bein’ one. Right now my schedule does not allow it, so the kids are gonna have to wait on that; it may be a couple years before I’m able to see some of the new ones, but by that time I’m sure Edith’s gonna have some fresh ones, so ?.?.?.?