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Bigger Than Jesus: 25 Rock Deities, Rap Messiahs, and Would-Be Golden Gods

Rock’n’roll may have originated in a deal with the devil, but some stars choose to set their sights higher — much higher. From Billy Crudup’s supposedly Robert Plant-inspired and acid-enlightened exclamation, “I am a golden god!” in Almost Famous to Kanye’s new single, “I Am a God,” there’s a long, (vain)glorious tradition of musicians donning a metaphorical beard and robe and assuming the mantle of divinity. Some have climbed up on crosses to make points about pop martyrdom; others have taken their most ardent fans’ proselytizing to heart and decided that, yes, maybe they are infallible deities after all. As the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn seeks to expand its flock with the message that Jesus was “the original hipster,” we look back on 25 musicians who went from strutting onstage to walking on water. PHILIP SHERBURNE