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Hugh Hefner Dead at 91: Rockers React

Charley Gallay, Getty Images
Charley Gallay, Getty Images

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner once reflected that he’d lived “an adolescent dream of an adult life” — just one of several things he had in common with, and reasons he was admired by, multiple generations of rock stars. Upon the news of the 91-year-old Hefner’s death yesterday, many of those musicians have taken to social media to share their thoughts on the magazine publisher’s legacy.

Hefner was most immediately eulogized by his son Cooper, who shared the news of his father’s death with a public statement lauding his “exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom” while pointing to Playboy‘s decades of success as proof his that legacy.

“He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand,” added the younger Hefner. “One of the most recognizable and enduring in history.”

Those sentiments were heartily echoed by Kiss co-founder Gene Simmons, who appeared on the cover of Playboy and gleefully embodied the magazine’s aesthetic on stage, on record, and in public life. Simmons offered his well wishes for Hefner in a pair of tweets, one of which described the publishing magnate as a “great man” and “entrepreneur”; the other offered a personal snapshot of Hefner between Simmons and his wife Shannon Tweed, who was the Playmate of the Year in 1982.

Simmons was far from the only rocker to marry a Playboy centerfold, but his persona — as a man of leisure, living a life of impossible luxury, surrounded by a never-ending parade of youth and beauty — clearly resonated with the arguable vast majority of the youth who pursued dreams of rock ‘n’ roll stardom in Playboy‘s wake.

Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash underscored that appeal with his Hefner tribute, an Instagram shot of the magazine founder flanked by dozens of bikini-clad women. Former GNR drummer Matt Sorum, meanwhile, posted the same Hefner photo chosen by Simmons, writing that he “made me want to live in pajamas, robe, and an ascot … oh yeah, and chase girls!” That wardrobe was referenced again by Rob Zombie, who posted his own Instagram shot from a party he attended at the Playboy Mansion and wrote, “RIP to the one and only. The man in the silk pajamas.”

RIP #HughHefner

A post shared by Slash (@slash) on

Other Hefner tributes will no doubt surface in the days following his death, but they’ll all be hard-pressed to match Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards for droll wit. “His heart was in the right place,” quipped Richards, “And so was the rest of him.”

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