This is the introduction to my book Rock Routes. The cover is a photograph I took in Bill Graham’s auditorium in San Francisco in January 2013. It is the remains of the Grateful Dead – now called Furthur.
We were only in San Francisco for two days and had no idea they were playing. We were staying in a little ‘hotel’ (I use the word tentatively). The ‘landlady’ was clearing stuff away. I asked why. She told me that there was this band playing down the road and all the weirdos would come out of the woodwork.
I got tickets straight away! How lucky was that! They were superb!
Rock is dead. That is what Jim Morrison proclaimed in 1970. He was wrong.
Rock is alive and well.
Rock as a universal unifying force for Youth Culture is dead. For most young people it would appear that music is incidental to their life. It has become a consumable product to be bought and discarded. For those to whom it is central it has become an easy recognisable cult with dedicated devotees.
It was not always the case.
In the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s music was the focus for social change. It was the unifying force for fashion, politics, attitude, morality and social perspective. Rock was the vehicle that youth culture rode on. Its influence was universal. Rock ‘n’ Roll, Beat music, Psychedelia and Punk were world-wide phenomena. It is salutary to look back at the 60’s psychedelic phenomena and see long-hair bands complete with kaftans, bell-bottoms and accoutrements springing up all over the world including Peru, Afghanistan, Australia, Tokyo, Brazil, South Africa, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Everyone wanted to be part of the scene. They all wanted to be the Beatles, Stones, Floyd, Hendrix or Doors.
Everything now is controlled by the ‘Biz’ and run for profit.
I guess it was ever thus. It did not seem like it though. It seemed that the music was a revolution that was changing the world. It was made by us and controlled by us. It was not a product. It was an emotional portrayal of how we felt. It was ours, of us, by us and for us.
But then I’ve always been an idealist.
Well – I lived through it all. I’ve seen most of them and got to meet some of them. I have enjoyed a life-time of Rock Music. It has been central to everything I have done. It has affected my philosophy and impinged on every aspect of my life. I’ve lived it.
I am sitting here in 2013 looking forward over the next few weeks to a programme that includes Nick Harper, Roy Harper, The Magic Band, North Mississippi Allstars and Leonard Cohen. Wow! I’m looking forward to it. I’m 64 and still rockin’.
Back in the 1980s I ran an adult education on the history of Rock Music. I had great fun even though it cost me a fortune. My vinyl collection grew exponentially.
This book is an extension of that course. I first wrote a four volume book totalling 1500 pages entitled Rock Strata. It told the whole story of Rock Music through from the early 1900s to 1982. A publisher loved it. He loved my charts. He just thought it was a little too long. He wanted me to cut it down to 200 pages.
This is the rewrite of that attempt!
This book is the history of Rock Music up until 1982. I stopped there. I could have continued but it all rather broke up into fragments. There have been a number of those fragments that I continue to love but others I get frustrated by. I hate overproduced muzac for the hard of thinking. I hate product.
I love good, live, raw, loud, exciting music. I want my stuff straight from the heart, head and gut – not the bank.
This book shows how the different aspects of Rock Music developed and evolved. Nothing is ever new. True innovators are extremely rare. I’ve heard a few. Everything comes out of what has come before. You can always see where it has come from.
One of my Rock students started my course hating Country & Western. By the end of the course he had an extensive collection of 1930s/40s Country. He had ‘discovered’ it by looking at the influences acting on the music he enjoyed. He found it was stuff he’d never heard or listened to. He loved it.
This book tries to show you the things that influenced the music you love. Perhaps you will find other artists or genres you didn’t know about? Perhaps it will captivate you the way it has me?
It doesn’t matter what you love as long as you love something. It doesn’t matter if we love the same things. Half the fun is arguing the toss over songs, bands and genres.
The lists I have drawn up are not definitive; cannot be definitive. They are my view of what is the very best. I’m sorry if I’ve missed a few out. That’s bound to be the case. But I bet I’ve put a few in that you wouldn’t have thought of. Enjoy mulling them over and drop me a comment on my Opher’s World blog if you like it or if you don’t. I’m always keen to hear from you!
This is Rock Music – not Pop. This is my kind of stuff. I grew up with it. It changed me. I love it!
If you want to purchase it here’s the link: