Saturday, October 15, 2016


Let’s rock and roll. One of the labels we boomers carry is “The Rock & Roll Generation”. Now that’s a label I don’t mind having.

I was born in 1948. As fate would have it, so was the 33 1/3 rpm vinyl record. Now, I don’t want to make too much of that coincidence, but it does make me an expert on music, particularly rock & roll.

With the advent of the 33 1/3 record, it wasn’t long after that Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler coined the term “rhythm and blues”. The saxophone and electric guitar took center stage. Some of the first rhythm and blues stars included T-Bone Walker, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, The Mills Brothers, Billie Holiday, and The Ink Spots. Most of the originals were before my time, but I have listened to them over the years. In fact, I once saw The Ink Spots  in a nightclub in Chicago, pretty much by accident. I think we just happened to stumble in.

The fifties ushered in a fusion of rhythm and blues and country. In 1951, disc jockey Alan Freed, in Cleveland, Ohio, coined the term “rock and roll” and held the first rock concert. It was called The Monday Coronation Ball. Now you know why the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland.

The first true rock & roll song is debated, but Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” was the first to top the Billboard chart. Other early rock and roll artists included Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Eddie Fisher, Perry Como, Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, and James Brown. It’s speculated that Bill Haley was so popular because he was white and more sellable. Many white radio stations were more willing to play him than the black artists of the time. Remember, we weren’t so far along in our race relations in the 1950's.

At any rate, the 50's was a little early for me. I was a 60's and 70's rock fan. That period covered my teen years into early adulthood, with college and marriage in-between. I attended a lot of concerts over those years, many at the Mississippi River Festival, at SIU Edwardsville. Some of the bands I heard there and other places included The Band, with Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison, The Eagles, Pink Floyd, The Everly Brothers, John Lee Hooker, Wille Nelson, John Prine, George Thorogood, Jackson Browne, Cheap Trick, Marshall Tucker, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Santana, Eric Clapton, The Steve Miller Band, Dr. John, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and The Who. At least, those are some I can remember. It gets a little hazy.

I am a collector of primarily 60's and 70's music. The first album I ever bought was “Paul Anka Sings His Big 15". I think it cost $2.50. The year was probably 1957 or 58. I’ve purchased about 999 others since than. My top ten follows: 1. My favorite album ever: The Beatles, “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”. 1967. 2. “Highway 61 Revisited”, by Bob Dylan. 1965. 3. “Exile On Main Street”, by The Rolling Stones. 1972. 4. “Astrol Weeks”, by Van Morrison. 1968. 5. “Are You Experienced”, by Jimi Hendrix. 1966. 6. “Tapestry”, by Carole King. 1971. 7. “Hotel California”, by The Eagels. 1976. 8. “Dark Side of the Moon”, by Pink Floyd. 1973. 9. “Legend”, by Bob Marley and The Wailers. 1984. 10. “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme,” by Simon & Garfunkel. 1966.

As you can see, rock and roll dominates my taste. I’m something of a one-dimensional music lover. But then, I’m a boomer.

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