Paul who? Imagine Self Made Man’s reaction when his quiz team buddy failed to recognise the name of the Voice Of Rock…

…read all about his reaction and his view of the man himself in the latest blog from our resident rock God. And remember you can get a fresh fix of Self Made Man right here every week! 

“Paul who?” he asked, his face a picture of blankness. “Rodgers,” I replied. “Paul bloody Rodgers.”

Incredulity doesn’t come close to capturing my sense of disbelief at this precise moment.

It was after the fourth round of quiz night at the local rugby club and here was my mate, one of our star performers, telling me he had never heard of one of the greatest rock artists of the past 50 years.

What’s more, we’d just scored eight out of ten in the music round with Nosh contributing at least half of the correct answers.

But despite his impressive knowledge of the Temptations, the Tavares and Take That, my revelation that I was heading to the Arena the following night to see the music legend that is PR left him singularly unmoved.

“I suppose you’ve never heard of Roger Waters either or Whitesnake or Rush,” I said reeling off my gig list for the next two months.

Waters? “No.” Rush? “Heard of them but couldn’t tell you anything about them,” Whitesnake? “Are they still going?”

Now Nosh, who’s in his early-50s,  is no musical philistine as he’d just demonstrated. And while his answers in round four suggest motown, disco and pop are his specialities, his passion for The Strangers and The Clash points to more eclectic interests.

A few moments later, noticing the look of mild contempt on my face, he threw me off my moral high ground.

“It’s you who’ve got the weird tastes,” he asserted. “I’m mainstream, you’re cult.”

I’ve thought about that in the days since and my mate has a point.

Rush are proud to call themselves the world’s biggest cult band but in so many respects the rock music everyone on this website loves is cult.

Not because it lacks popularity but because it is ignored by the mainstream.

Waters, the self-proclaimed creative genius behind Pink Floyd, was part of a quartet for whom the whole was deliberately greater than the sum of the parts.

In the seventies, when Floyd were among the top three biggest bands in the world, David Gilmour, Rick Wright, Nick Mason and Waters could have walked down Oxford Street and not be recognised by over 80 per cent of passers-by.

Led Zeppelin too spurned publicity while contemporaries like The Who, the Rolling Stones and even Genesis embraced superstardom, crossing that invisible dividing line between mainstream and cult.

Waters got his comeuppance as a solo artist a decade later when he toured under his own name, playing to half-full arenas while his former Floyd band-mates were selling out stadia a few miles down the road.

In 2011, Waters, Rush and Whitesnake are performing to sell out crowds across the world and, certainly, in the case of the first two names, they are as popular now as they’ve ever been.

Paul Rodgers of course is used to playing in front of thousands of punters too. I’ve seen him five times in the past eight years, once with Bad Company, twice with Queen and twice as a solo artist.

His three Arena gigs with BC and Queen were so popular,  touts were selling tickets for twice the price on the nights of the concerts. It was the same when he played at the City Hall eight years ago, though capacity there meant demand was always going to exceed supply.

But on Monday night, at a concert which was at least the equal of any of those previous four in terms of quality, passion and set list, swathes of empty seats greeted Rodgers on his return to the North East.

What’s in a name? Well, ticket sales would suggest quite a lot, though in fairness, Rodgers was forced to switch from the City Hall to the Arena to satisfy demand.

It’s just that demand wasn’t as strong as it had been when he carried the brand name of a band on the tickets.

If the likes of Rodgers, Waters and Rush have always refused to tick all those boxes which ensure bigger profiles and recognition in households around the planet, their music certainly hasn’t suffered for it.

And if such artists remain under the radar of music fans such as my pal Nosh, then surely that’s a price worth paying for retaining credibility, maintaining the respect of their devoted followers and continuing to churn out quality music when many of their once more famous contemporaries are either retired or are now playing in cabaret bars across the world.