So what is it that teen idols have that mere mortals don’t? It depends on the decade, but most of the time, it’s simply good looks and whatever would be cause for getting you grounded by your parents. Some traits have remained constant: Jerry Lee Lewis wore a bad attitude in the ’50s; in the ’90s, Axl Rose’s was worse. Other characteristics can be more fleeting: Pat Boone’s spiffy ’50s varsity wear seemed hopelessly antiquated after Jim Morrison’s airtight leather getups of the ’60s. (And does anybody out there remember the Erik Estrada doll?)
If there’s any certainty about teen idols, it’s this: Like adolescence itself, they are impermanent and intense, and forever fixed in our memory.