The Who continue to perform “My Generation” in their 2016 tour dates, even with that line about hoping to die before they get old. And with Mick Jagger becoming a great-grandfather in 2014, rock culture really is thumbing its nose at the idea of growing old gracefully.
So if grandpas these days can be rockers, maybe our associations of rock = rebelliousness = youth have collapsed altogether. Or perhaps we have actually become accustomed to the idea that “youth” is an attitude, not a chronological stage in the human life cycle. From that point of view, a rock & roll pose of “sticking it to the man” is available to anyone, even “the man” himself.
While the spirit of rock & roll lives on in lots of teen subcultures and inspires many new bands, it’s also true that kids who grow up rocking out alongside their parents think of this music as … well, old.
If you play Metallica to your baby in the cradle, he might grow up thinking of “Enter Sandman” as a nostalgic song that brings back sweet memories of bedtime.
The recent rise in child stars who rock out note-perfect versions of Van Halen guitar solos and Keith Moon drum ...
I was born just a hair too late for the Jackson 5, so the first time I listened to Michael Jackson was probably around 1974, when he and Roberta Flack sang that charming and funny duet "When We Grow Up" in the cartoonish kids' bedroom in "Free to Be . . . You and Me." I was in high school in the 80s, and watched MTV all the time, so "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" were inescapable. Regrettably, back then, I was kind of a classic rock snob, so I paid most attention to "We Are the World," because Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan were on it. In the early 90s, when I became a music writer, I made up for it and fell hard for Off the Wall and Thriller.
Then when my daughter, Rose, was 4 or 5, she fell in love with "Goin' Back to Indiana," and we had to listen to it 400 times a day. That eventually brought us to "Billie Jean," which we watched on YouTube together, over and over. It's just mesmerizing.
How does Michael make his body do those things? How does he get his leg so high? How does he look like he ...
The January 29, 1976 Rolling Stone headline read "Indonesian Nightmare Strikes Deep Purple." Journalist Peter Crescenti wrote in the opening paragraph: "Tragedy and mayhem struck the Deep Purple tour December 4th in Jakarta, Indonesia, when one of the group's road crew, Patsy Collins, a well-loved celebrity of the British rock scene and guitarist Tommy Bolin's bodyguard, was killed in a six-story fall down a service elevator shaft at the band's hotel."
It's a story steeped in Rock Hall lore and a Deep Purple story that's horrific and fascinating. The news report caught my eye as I was pulling items for the 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee exhibit, rare items from the Rock Hall's Library & Archives that tell the story of this year's inductees. But as I poured over Crescenti's original drafts (complete with edit notes) for the article that later ran in Rolling Stone, the story increasingly piqued my curiosity.
Was Collins' death was part of a set-up that included scamming the band out of the concert proceeds? Who were the eyewitnesses, and how much did they actually see? What happened to Collins' body, especially considering the fact that the ...
Metallica looking very metal in 1986 / photo by Ross Halfin / via metallica.com
As a child of the 80s, my first intro to Metallica came via MTV's Headbangers Ball, specifically the video for ...And Justice for All's epic metal anthem "One." Shot mostly in black-and-white, with scenes and dialogue from Johnny Got His Gun interspersed with the group thrashing in an abandoned warehouse, the video was intense, creepy, brutal – and all the other superlatives that inspired shock and awe in my impressionable young mind. I was hooked with full-on Beavis & Butt-head excitement. Like any enterprising adolesccent metalhead, I was soon fully immersed in Metallica's first three albums: Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. To the chagrin of my parents and their eardrums, the latter became my favorite. On the 30th anniversary of its release, listening to Master again took me headbanging down memory lane.
Master of Puppets not only pushed the limits of the metal genre in terms of sheer musicianship and creative force, but also redefined the paths to success and critical acclaim.
Metallica's meteoric ascent began in earnest with the release of 1983's Kill 'Em All, introducing the band ...
When Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force's "Planet Rock" dropped in 1982, it was nothing short of a revelation. In its cool grooves, the Bronx and Manhattan collided with a message for the citizens of One World. The lyrics were upbeat and utopian: "Party people, can y'all get funky!" The music – based around the rhythms of Kraftwerk's 1977 Krautrock hit "Trans-Europe Express" – was electronic and, in fact, funky. Hip-hop's first self-conscious art record suggested just how far this new musical sound could go. This was the Star Trek take on science fiction: harmonious, multicultural, with technology connecting people rather than alienating or threatening them.
And its rhythmic core? The Roland TR-808 drum machine, a hugely flawed, relatively inexpensive piece of early 80s technology that forever transformed the modern musical landscape of many styles – hip-hop, electro, dance, techno, pop, rock and industrial, among others.
808 The Movie tells the story of this unlikely musical hero, and I caught up with producer Alex Noyer to get the inside story on why he and his crew were inspired to make the film and the surprising stories they heard from the likes of Bambaataa, Phil Collins, Fat Boy Slim, the Beastie ...
Not even Nirvana's most ardent early advocates could've predicted the near-immediate – much less lasting – impact Nevermind had following its September 1991 release. By the following January, it was already topping charts and the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video was part of MTV's regular rotation. Yet less than a month after their major label debut, the band members – most adamantly frontman Kurt Cobain – were struggling to adapt to attention and adulation.
Meeting a hungover and young group in a New York City hotel on September 29, 1991, journalist Susan Rees interviewed Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl in what became Nirvana's first national magazine cover feature, for the Jan/Feb 1992 issue of Alternative Press magazine.
"Just getting through this interview proved too much for the press-weary band," wrote Rees. "Spread out about as far as three people can spread out in one small New York City hotel room, they tried to be responsive, but Sunday afternoon weighed heavily on them. Novoselic, who did offer a Beck's and some Pepperidge Farm cookies, showed more interest in watching television, drummer David Grohl was polite but didn't have much to say and vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Kurt ...
As the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland unveils its new Beastie Boys collection, we sat down with Rock Hall curator Meredith Rutledge-Borger to find out why curating this exhibit was personal.
RRHOF: Do you remember the first time you heard the Beastie Boys?
MR: I lived in New York City in the late 70s and early 80s. I worked at a record store and one day when I went to work there was this crazy thing on the turntable that was somebody prank calling a Carvel store and then it turned into this rap song. And [the song] kept repeating –"Cookie Puss, Cookie Puss" - which was the tasty treat that Carvel ice cream stores made. I immediately had to find out what this record was because it was just so funny, and it turned out it was the Beastie Boys. I fell in love. I was like, "Who are these kids?! This is so genius!"
So curating the new Beastie Boys exhibit at the Rock Hall must have been a trip down memory lane...
This is really the first time that I've worked on an exhibit with an artist that I've watched from the very ...
Photo: Glenn Frey, ca. 1994, photographer unknown. From the Jeff Gold Collection at the Rock Hall's Library & Archives.
It's been a rough start to 2016 for rock fans mourning the loss of two Hall of Fame Inductees: David Bowie and Glenn Frey. Tributes have poured in from around the globe, a testament to the lasting impact and widespread influence of the music each created. Last week, we looked back on some of the David Bowie songs that shaped rock and roll, and this week it's only fitting we rewind to one of the Eagles' most enduring hits: "Take It Easy."
Guitarist Glenn Frey was a rocker from Detroit who headed to Los Angeles, where he befriended fellow musicians Jackson Browne and John David Souther. Drummer Don Henley and Frey met while backing Linda Ronstadt. Guitarist Bernie Leadon had previously done time with Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman in the Flying Burrito Brothers; bassist Randy Meisner was a founding member of Poco with Richie Furay and had played in Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band. And they had all played together on Ronstadt's Silk Purse. No wonder they sounded accomplished from the get-go.
Decades later, in 2014 ...