I graduated from high school in 1972 and have always felt the 60’s and 70’s were the pinnacle of rock music. Groups like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jimi, Janis, The Doors, Rush, Yes, Queen owned the airways. Actually in LA there were only two AM stations in the 60’s that played the groups we wanted to here, KHJ and KRLA. When FM finally caught on in the early 70’s KMET became the monster station. I think each generation thinks their music of the time is the best…but on this point I think I’m right. Beatles, Stones, Zep, killed it. Songs could be the standard 2:30 – 3 minutes but usually time wasn’t a factor as Led Zeppelin would play songs that would go on for up to 11-minutes (Stairway to Heaven – 8 minutes). The musicians played their own instruments, sang live and were part of a major peace movement that effected hundreds of thousands of “kids”. I loved it. I originally would buy a 45-record once-a-week for $1.00 at the local record store. The 45’s were small and had one song on each side of the record and could be stacked 10-high on your record player. Then came the albums (33’s) featuring my favorite music ever. These albums were full of great songs, you could just put it on the first song and listen until the last. Sgt. Pepper’s (Beatles), Are You Experienced (Jimi), Led Zeppelin II (LZ), Who’s Next (Who), Let It Bleed (Stones) and Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd) is just a sample of classic albums. It was great…music was an everyday part of our lives…I dove in head-first.
The 80’s brought in a whole new generation of kids and music fueled by MTV. Michael Jackson blew everyone’s minds with the Thriller video. Madonna came on the scene. I heard RUN DMC for the first time and “rap” was a completely new and fresh sound for me…YO! MTV Raps. “Alternative” groups began hitting the airwaves on KROQ like Duran Duran, The Clash and Heavy Metal became enormously popular which is a sound I never completely bought in to. I did like some songs from Guns ‘N Roses, Van Halen and a couple others but I was by no means a “Metal Head”. Then music went totally south in the late 80’s. Heavy metal became “Hair” Metal which featured groups like Poison, Motley Crue, Ratt, Cinderella, Winger, Twisted Sister, Vixen and others. Just over the top hairspray crap. The groups were big on make-up, teased hair, tight pants, and high pitched vocals. It was a down time for rock ‘n roll until a fresh breeze blew in from the Northwest…Nirvana, grunge music…hallelujah. I remember just sitting on a couch alone (typical) flicking thru channels when I stopped on MTV and saw the “Smells like Teen Spirit” video. WTF was this? It was like remembering where you were when Kirk Gibson hit his historic home run for the Dodgers, the first space shuttle landing, dunking your first basketball ( I never did that, just thought it sounded cool). A whole new sound that I never expected, never anticipated…it just arrived and it was fantastic. I bought the Nevermind album and just kept playing it. Hair Metal was DOA, rock ‘n roll was saved. Pearl Jam and Soundgarden followed up and I was excited again about music and in particular the intensity and darkness that was Kurt Cobain. Nirvana guaranteed that the music of the 90’s would not suck.
Fast forward to today (doodely doo, doodely doo, thanks Wayne). Today “POP” music is dominating the airwaves. Pop music is commercially recorded singles that feature artists that have the music written for them and instruments played for them. They are geared for mass audience appeal and feature high end marketing for the stars who mostly became popular in their late teens or early 20’s. Britany Spears (32) helped kick it off and a parade followed…Christina Aguilera (33), Beyonce (32), Katy Perry (29), Lady Gaga (27), Rhianna (25), Taylor Swift (24), Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus (21). The men were kicked off by Justin Timberlake (32) and soon led the way for Usher (35), Chris Brown (24), Justin Bieber (19), and One Direction (ages 19-21). Yes, they all have a catchy song or two but for me they basically suck. They are internet children and worshipped by the teen market who have tremendous buying power. Rock ‘n Roll is dying again…it is time for something new, fresh, take your breath away, heart pounding rock. Green Day is an exception…still love them. Where will it come from? What will it sound like? I’m ready and let me know if you have heard music that is heading in a new direction…opposite of POP.