The History of It All

Perhaps it’s a reflection of my age. Well… I know it is. But it’s obvious to me that history doesn’t seem to be having an effect on Generation “why/who cares” as it did on previous eras of earthly occupants. It’s very disconcerting when I speak to fellow Canadians who’ve never heard of the FLQ and how they caused the federal government to enforce the War Measures Act in 1970. Or to Americans of the similar generation who have no idea who G. Gordon Liddy is and what he and his cronies were caught doing just a few years later.

I’m not going to turn this into a political rant but am using the aforementioned examples as a segue into the regular subject matter of this forum: music & pop culture. I find it stunning that mentioning certain names from just a generation ago, names that were dominant in rock’n’roll music, draws looks of an authentic reaction of “Who?” while maintaining eye contact from those I question. It’s jaw dropping to realize that no one under 40 has a copy of “Frampton Comes Alive.” A lot of time has gone by very quickly. And music has developed in new, innovative ways. But don’t sell yourselves short by denying the opportunity to a) discover what preceded your initial interest in music and b) expose these musicians and enjoy the talent they possess. Appreciate the time and place of where they were and what was going on around them that provided these songwriters with ideas and the musicians who helped interpret them.

The Beatles are as good a start as anywhere. True that Presley and Chuck Berry gave them the want to do what they did but The Beatles broke down barriers that most people didn’t know existed. The Stones were more despicable than what we remember Guns’n’Roses were at their prime and what they wrote and played caused parents to want to hire assassins and have taken out. OK. I’m exaggerating but I’m just making a point. Artistic license, let’s go with that! The Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 exposed Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, The Who and Jimi Hendrix, amongst others, to the masses who didn’t belong to a cult following. Have you listened to Otis Redding sing? If Redding hadn’t died 5 months later many people “in the know” believe he would have surpassed James Brown. Google him if you have to. And Woodstock 2 years later drove the nail through the board. Alvin Lee blazing through “I’m Goin’ Home,” with Ten Years After, was the first Randy Rhodes or Kirk Hammitt. (Please use only as a point of reference). I remember in high school my friends and I didn’t acknowledge the existence of anyone who didn’t listen to Hendrix.

Hearing bands like Humble Pie. Steve Marriott and company epitomized “hit the road and tear it up.” Joe Perry has spoken about getting charged after cranking up Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” just before he went to school in the morning. We knew every note of the full length version of “In A Gadda Da Vida.” OK. That was a bit much. But it drove my father insane, to which now I have an appreciation for how he felt whenever I get “boom boxed.” You know what I mean. Zeppelin dominated everywhere. I loved Grand Funk Railroad, the most dated sounding band from back then. And if you were born after 1960 you have no idea the shock and parental havoc David Bowie had on the world when he fronted “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” I’ve had several occasions to spend time with Spider’s bassist Trevor Bolder in the past and he’s told stories of having the Ku Klux Klan show up at their second U.S. gig. I’d love to talk to the booking agent who decided Memphis, Tennessee would be a good place to play.

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