Rock Stars Flipping You Off

You can’t be faulted for thinking that rock has lost its edge. Corporate tour sponsorship, commercial song placement and product tie-ins seem to have largely overtaken the youth-quake rebellion of the genre’s early years.

But, as Ramones drummer Marky Ramone helpfully reminded us with 1999’s “Middle Finger,” there’s at least one final vestige of rock’s provocative spirit that remains: flipping you off.

The gesture reportedly dates back to ancient Greece and was later favored by the Romans, whose descendants likely brought it to U.S. shores in the late 1800s. But giving someone the finger didn’t really come into its own until Johnny Cash was photographed doing it during a 1969 performance at San Quentin State Prison.

Plenty of other famous folks have offered the finger form of F-you, including future president George W. Bush, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and countless sports figures from Ron Artest to Ivan Rodriguez to Johnny Manziel. Pop stars flip it too.

Almost all of those people ended up apologizing. But not Cash, and not the generations of rock guys who followed his lead. (Not wrestling guys, either, but that’s a conversation for another time.) As you’ll see in the following gallery of Rock Stars Flipping You Off, they tend to do it often. And there’s no subsequent PR-focused groveling, as we’ve seen from the likes of Adele or M.I.A.

No, rock stars own it. And with that small gesture, this single digit, they reclaim some small part of what made the music so dangerous and interesting in the first place.