The Soundtrack of my Life – The Early Years (but a bit later…)
This is the second part of a short series of articles, the first can be found here.
There comes a point when, although the music loved by our parents still influences us, we begin to notice our own tastes. This happened to me when I first began to watch the TV show Top of the Pops. It’s probably almost unbelievable to some people reading this that at one point the only time you could see music being performed (well, mimed to…) on television was a 40 minute show once a week on a Thursday evening. That was pretty much it. I watched it every week up until the late 70s, maybe until 1980, just hoping there would be one rock band on the show. I was usually disappointed, but what if I missed it?? We didn’t have iPlayer, not even a video tape recorder at the time. Miss the show and that was it, tough luck buster.
So I watched it when I was very young, and below are a couple of the classic performances that were real groundbreakers for me. It started to be obvious that my tastes were towards music that was a little harder, as will become apparent.
Roll over Beethoven –
I think if I’m really honest this was the moment I woke up to my own musical tastes. I heard the opening guitar, and the 12 bar that I’d loved so much with Elvis and rock n roll, but there was the added oomph of a distorted 4 x 12 Marshall stack. I didn’t know it was a cover of Chuck Berry at that point. At that time Chuck Berry was the bloke on the TV singing My Dingaling, not a rocker or amazing guitar player. My love of Chuck came along a bit later.
When I was very young The Sweet were my favourite band. This was the first song of theirs I heard and I loved them all the way from that moment to Love is like Oxygen. Let’s be honest here. I wanted to be their lead singer Brian Connolly. He was my hero. I had posters of him, the band, and other glam rockers plastered all over my bedroom wall. Along with Sweet, T Rex and Slade were next in line. I never really got Gary Glitter or Roxy Music, but Sweet, Slade and T Rex. Awesome.
Killer Queen –
This was the first Queen song I ever heard and it was another ‘moment’. We were on a family holiday on a boat on the fens when it was in the charts and it was literally played everywhere. I loved Queen’s early music. To me they lost it a little during the more poppy phase, but then they seemed to remember their roots once more. Freddie. You were amazing.
Paper Plane –
Status Quo were the first band I fell in love with when I could actually ask my parents to buy me an album and I became a consumer of music. This was the first song I heard of theirs, and you can definitely see a theme over these early years of a deep love of 12 bar rock and roll. The Quo were a proper blues band and if you listen to Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon you’ll hear just how good they were. Once again I lost interest when they seemed to lose their edge and direction, but the early years of the Quo, man, they were so good. And once more, I had a musical hero – I wanted to be Rick Parfitt.
Thin Lizzy took over from the Quo as my favourite band and it was their music that opened me up to proper song-led heavy rock. Another trend I’ve noticed is how many of the bands and singers I’ve loved growing up are no longer with us. I was at a rock club when I learned about Phil Lynott’s death. To me that was the moment when the British-style of rock music (yes, I know Lizzy were Irish, but the style of music on the whole was very much in line with other British rock bands at the time) seemed to move over and make way for the American rock that would follow. Up to that point American rock was REO Speedwagon, Styx, Toto. Big stadium AOR. But then came the hair-metal explosion, followed by Grunge, and then the likes of Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth. After the New Wave of British Heavy Metal of the late 70s/early 80s, I’m not sure British rock music has ever caught up, and I noticed that change begin just after Phil passed away.
So what next? Oh there’s more to come!