Nostalgia. In the 1950's, televisions were only affordable for the privleged, so my family could not affore one, and so we listened to radio. My uncle had a television at his house, and when us kids saw a television set for the first time, we were afraid of it. Hey, we were 10-12 years old, and there were very few television sets anywhere. As kids, we wondered how in the world they could get all those tiny figures in that tiny box.
Finally, in the late 1950's, my father bought a television set and we watched shows like Lucy; the Honeymooners; My Little Margie; Leave It To Beaver; Ozzie and Harriet; 77 Sunset Strip; the Millionaire; Gun Smoke; Ed Sullivan; Flash Gordon; the Life of Riley. Television was new to everyone all across the country. But, there was ONE televison show that was a must on our "to do" list and that show was American Bandstand, with the host..."America's oldest teen-ager," Dick Clark! Amazingly, for televison being so new, the show was broadcast "live" everyday from Philadelphia. At the time, Dick Clark was probably in his mid-twenties.
Because of American Bandstand...it was television and rock and roll that teamed up...along with radio...to spread the music throughout the country. As kids, we watched all the singers and musical groups that came out on American Bandstand to showcase their talents. What was amazing, was the fact that so many of these artists were only teen-agers at the time, and wrote and performed their own songs. People like Smokey Robinson; Neil Sedaka; Paul Anka; Buddy Holly; Leslie Gore...and many of the hit songs that were written back then, and still popular in the year 2007! Amazing! What a great time to grow up!
At the community center down the street from where we lived, we attended dances (sock-hops) every week. Everyone showed up including Long Tall Sally; Peggy Sue; Nadine and the party would not be complete without the little town flirt! We would "splish-splash" the night away. There was only one type of dance that was popular at the time...and it was called, "Bandstanding," and almost everyone did it. The dance was similar to jitter-bugging, and we learned from the kids we watched on television.
It was exciting to get off from school about three in the afternoon...race home...so we could see all the new stars on American Bandstand! Jerry Lee Lewis; Connie Francis; the Platters; Drifters; Chuck Berry; the Coasters; Fats Domino; Little Richard; Everly Brothers; and Elvis somebody or another...I can't remember...the list was endless! There were, of course, no oldies at the time...everything was new, fresh...real time by the singer/songwriters of the time. In 1957, I remember hearing two unusual and peculiar voices on radio...the voice of Little Richard...and the voice of Wolfman Jack...this was the beginning of the rock and roll era! Excitement was everywhere!
Rock and roll was not popular with everyone at the time! As a matter of fact, it was down right hated by many parents, school officials; churches and the "establishment," frowned on rock and roll from the beginning! "Rock and roll was corrupupting our kids," was the cry at the time! Certain songs were banned from the church, like Wake Up Little Suzy by the Everly brothers. It was later, in the mid-1960's, when the drug culture came about, and rock and roll was more accepted by parents and the establishment, etc. After all, parents thought it was best for their kids to be having fun with music, than to get into the hazards of durgs of the times.
If you were 30 years old or older...you were OLD...not trusted...and you were part of the
establishment! You were what Bill Cosby calls OLD PEOPLE!
But, rock and roll was here to stay, and in the early 1960's, Mo-Town came onto the scene, which included greats like Smokey Robinson; Marvyn Gaye; the Supremes; the King of Soul; Aretha. I remember Little Stevie Wonder, when he was only ten years, singing his hit song, Fingertips (1&2). Singer/song writers had block busters at that time, and they were all so young! The television shows, "Shin-dig," and "Solid Gold," added to the popularity of rock and roll. Spreading the word on rock and roll was the long-running, Ed Sullivan show, where many newcomers got their start like Elvis, the Beatles and the Stones.
It was 1964...and the British Invasion! I was a freshman at the University of New Mexico. Rock and roll continued to dominate the airwaves, but now it was more accepted, and along with Elvis, it was the Beatles and the Rolling Stones who topped the charts. And, it was the Monkees, who one of the few groups that rivaled the Beatles in popularity in the late 1960's!
As kids, we couldn't afford 45rpm records, but we had a friend down the street, whose parents were rolling in dough, and bought their daughter records all the time, so we went over there all the time to boogie and listen to the latest hits, etc. I learned how to take wax off the dance floor at a young age. In the early 1960's, dance partners split apart from doing Bandstanding and went off to do "their own thing" apart from each other. At that time, the dance was called the "slop" and the dance is still around in 2007, it's just called something else.
American Music Awards: Throughout the 1960's and 70's, I loved to see the American Music Awards, because there were all the "biggies" who showed up, and led the way in rock and roll. Big names like, Gladys Knight, Barbara Strisand; Linda Ronstadt; John Denver; Peter, Paul and Mary; The Jackson Five; Bobby Darin; Roy Orbison; the Moody Blues; the Carpenter's; Three Dog Night; Dave Clark Five; Fleetwood Mac; Bee-Gees; Neil Diamond; CCR; Herman's Hermits; and the list went on and on and on. Even the comedian Bill Cosby had a top 40 hit with "The Little Old Man!"
Woodstock? A big orgy...if you like orgies! A huge slumber party of love and drugs...with over 500,000 people in New York! It was a time of free-love, dope and alcohol...and like the song says, everybody gets stoned! There was one famous band member there who said, "If you remember the 60's, you weren't there!" Well...to this dope head, I say that I remember the 60's and I was there, and I wasn't a dope head like him!
And, the 1960's were violent and turbulent times...not only because of the Viet Nam war, but because the 60's were a time of change in America! The civil rights movement; women's liberation; equal rights for all was the call. Civil disobedience; rebellion; cities burned...during what was called "the long hot summers" in America. The Congress didn't get it...the United States of America was not a government of the Congress...or a government of the White House...or a government of the Republicans...or a government of the Democrats. The United States was a government of the PEOPLE! And, it would be the PEOPLE of America who would govern this country, and cities would burn all across the nation, until the dope heads in Congress got the message!
After Watergate in the early 1970's. the dope heads in the Congress and the White House finally got the message, and Nixon was thrown out of the White House, and America was returned to its rightful owner...the American people!
At that time, I don't think there was a major city in America, where the National Guard was not called out because of rebellion! Here, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the National Guard was called as buildings burned at the University of New Mexico, and after three students were killed at Kent State University. And, the music of the times reflected the mood of the country. Hundreds of protest songs were written at that time, and many of them are still popular in the year 2007.
The 1960's was a time of change in America...and the cry was, "do your own thing!" independent thinking...free and clear from the "establishment!" And, rock and roll continued on...more popular than ever! I would say that rock and roll began to change in 1970, and on one side was the "heavy-metal," which I never listened to. And, on the other side was something called, "disco!" People put labels on things, and I have no idea what disco is! The only thing I can say about disco, is that me and my wife saw the movie, "Grease" in the mid-1970's, and the movie was a real dork...but, we loved the music! So, if this is disco...we loved it!
Sadly...we lost too many musicians at such a young age throughout the rock and roll era such as Ricky Nelson; Bobby Darin; Eddy Rabbit; Roy Orbison; Karen Carpenter; Mama Cass Eliot; Van Morrison; Janis Joplin; Jimi Hendrix; Roger Miller; Buddy Holly; John Denver and the "KIng" was only 42 when he died!
One of the most ironic things that happened to me in the mid-1990's, was when the Rolling Stones appeared in Albuquerque, New Mexico (where I live). You remember back when rock and roll first started, parents and the "establishment," hated the music! It was 1995, and I was taking a computer course at a local community college, and the Stones were in town. The community college was located near the football stadium, where the Stones were to perform.
That night, I got out of class about 6:30 in the evening, before the Stones show, and, as I waited for a traffic light to change, I notice 40 and 50 year old parents taking their children to a Stones concert! Can you imagine that? What a difference a generation makes! Back in the 1950's and 60's, parents hated rock and roll music...and now THOSE kids...are taking THEIR kids to a rock and roll concert...UNBELIEVABLE!
In the year 2006, the oldies dominate the music airwaves, at least where I live. And, the music will continue to dominate, because the music and the lyrics are so great...they will never die! I never hear too much about new music much anymore! Oh...well...like the song says, rock and roll is here to stay...whethere the songs be the oldies or the new songs coming along by new artists.
I've always admired musicians...those who can write and sing a song...and those who can play a musical instrument. As for me, the only instrument I can play is the radio...and I don't do it well. Fifty years of a musical explosion, and it was great to be part of it all. This piece would not be complete unless I mentioned everybody's favorite group...the incredible Chipmunks...that's right...Simon...Theodore and Alvin...A-l-v-i-n.....A--A-A-A-A-L-L-L-L-LL-L-L--------------V-V-V-V-V-V-V-I-I-I-I-I--N-N-N-N-N-N-N-!!