June 06, 2021

Rock and Roll — Is it fractured or Will it Never Die?

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Back in the 50’s the Philadelphia based group Danny and The Juniors had a hit record with their song called “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay”. At the time, Rock and Roll was considered a fad and only music for teens. It was their soundtrack for their years to rebel against the establishment as well as their parents.

The establishment fought back. Preachers called for the burning of the devil’s music records. Mayors of many cities banned having Rock and Roll concerts. Predictably, instead killing of the music, it only added fuel to the passion of the young music lovers.

Those who grew up in the early years of Rock and Roll were inspired to learn how to play this new music. Talk to any Rock star of the past few decades and they will tell you how much they were influenced by those preceded them. The Beatles loved Buddy Holly and R & B. The Rolling Stones loved the Blues and Chuck Berry.

How many times have you heard a star of the 70’s and 80’s relate how their lives changed forever after they saw The Beatles or The Stones on the Ed Sullivan Show? How many of them went out and bought an instrument almost the very next day? How many decided to take music in school or to form a band? The numbers are too great to count. Certainly, a lot more than actually made a living playing music.

The music became much more than a source of entertainment. It created a lifestyle and even a way of thinking. It was a way of protesting a war or promoting civil rights. The lyrics became just as important or (maybe in some cases) more important to the performers and their fans.

Most would agree that the peak came with Woodstock. All those people were gathering to celebrate not just the music but their lifestyle. Much of this was lost when the war in Vietnam ended and the civil rights bill passed. The music that followed in the 80’s and 90’s lost much of the raw edge that was dominant in early Rock and Roll. Some of it can be blamed on the Rock stars of the time becoming more self-indulgent. Some blame can be placed at school systems that started to phase out teaching music in their schools. Then there were many who turned to synthesizer-processed music on computers to create and compose. Many would argue that Rock is fractured beyond repair.

Where were the rebels in Rock? The rebel cause was taken up by a new breed of rebels. Many of them didn’t know how to play music, but they could use other sources to show their displeasure with the world as they saw it and Rap music was born. Rappers became the new rebels that were embraced by the youth.

Was Rock facing extinction after being so dominant for decades? Those who grew up on Rock looked at Rap with some of the same displeasure that their own music faced while they were growing up. The changing of the guard is never easy or smooth.

Years ago, there was a story about a discovery that was made in a cave somewhere. There was some writing on the wall that was created by cave men who lived there. When the writing was finally translated, it was written by an adult who thought that the world was doomed and would end soon because the youth of the day were lost. If they are the leaders of tomorrow, there’s no hope for the world.

Somehow, the world is still here centuries later. So is Rock music. Despite some noticeable dry spills, there is hope for the future of the genre. If you think that the old Rockers are burned out and there are no good groups or artists out there to fill their shoes, look again.

They are out there. Listen to The Record Company, Dawes, Courtney Barnett and a number of newcomers who still creating Rock music. They just need the kind of exposure that the artists got in the late 60’s and 70’s. That is one of the major differences between now and the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Where are the radio stations to support them? Even if a so-called classic artist were to put out a great new album, who will play it on the air? That is why so many “stars” are claiming they will no longer be recording any more music. Is Rock here to stay? The future is to be found in the future of radio.

The answer just may be found on the internet. Internet radio is at almost the same pint of FM was in the 60’s when AM and top forty ruled the air waves. Could history repeat itself?

Stay tuned.

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