It was a really big show — a really big show. February marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, as four lads from Liverpool dominated North America. Nothing compares to the frenzy caused by the Beatlemania craze, unless Elvis Presley was in the equation.
The history of rock and roll is indebted to the musical genius and natural born talent of so many artists who created a sweet sound in the ears and hearts of fans the world over.
Growing up, my mom and dad would delicately place the needle on an assortment of vinyl records from the “King of Rock and Roll” to The Beach Boys to The Monkees. My mom would also sneak in the odd Tom Jones album. Johnny Cash and Johnny Horton were also widely spun on the hi-fi. When I was a teenager the music changed. The 1970s and 1980s gave birth to an abundance of hard rock sounds and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to grow up with such a plethora of great bands and songs. I recall going to stores such as Woolco and K-Mart to buy records, LP and 45s (the equivalent to an iTunes single download for those unacquainted with the 45) — I was a KISS fanatic so “Rock and Roll Over,” “Destroyer” and the solo records were in my collection, as well as K-Tel compilation records and then cassettes with titles such as “Chart Hits,” “Hit News,” Rock ’82” and “Electric North,” which featured the best of the best of my generation.
So what’s happened to the state of rock and roll? Today’s idols fail in comparison to the music gods of yesterday. I’m sorry but Bieber and One Direction are simply not cut from the same piece of vinyl. Not to dismiss the millions of fans but something is definitely missing from today’s mass produced cookie cutter pop stars. Yes, Elvis and The Monkees and other bands from the dawn of the American Idol-like products were created somewhat as marketing gimmicks, unfortunately. But legends… the musicians of the past have become. Everlasting in their ability to entertain and hypnotize millions through the music produced and songs sang and played on actual instruments.
Yes, I’m being that guy. The old man, dissing and complaining about today’s music. Thinking I have some sort of entitlement because I lived through the good old days of rock and roll music when Hendrix, Morrison, The Rolling Stones, KISS and Alice Cooper meant something. Bands and artists that have impacted the music world. I had an opportunity to interview shock rocker Alice Cooper recently and he said something profound regarding today’s bands, “They don’t have any attitude. They don’t care what they look like on stage and they don’t have any sort of rock and roll venom in them at all.” He added, “I keep looking around going, ‘Where are the rock stars?’ and ‘Where are the guys that are the next rock stars?’ It’s sort of like this generation is afraid to be rock stars.”
Of course, the 1990s had a handful of influential artists. Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden and the like. Grunge carved a niche in the musical soundscape of rock and roll. In 2014 there are still many bands and musical artists of great importance that still live and live on. Sadly, many are only faces on discount bath towels, napkins and cups or are arrested for being young and naive or swing scantily clad on wrecking balls.