1977 ... The Death of Classic Rock?
Growing up in the 70’s I got into music by listening to my older brothers record collection, whilst he was out going to gigs and generally being cool, I was devouring all the notes on album sleeves and reading weekly editions of Melody Maker from cover to cover and when he went to the Windsor Free Festival I was deemed to be too young by my parents to go with him, instead the rest of the family went on one Sunday afternoon with all the children sat in the back of an old Ford Zephyr , with our sandwiches and thermos flask of tea to watch the hippies in their natural environment with strict instructions to keep the windows wound up as if we were in a Safari Park.
It was my brother who eventually took me to my first gig which was Hawkwind quickly followed by Led Zeppelin at Earls Court, he and his friends were the epitome of cool with their long hair, flared jeans and cheesecloth shirts I wore my Clarke's shoes, Flannel trousers and Parka, but none the less they all welcomed me and made me feel part of the gang. The more I got into music the more I yearned to see bands on my own or with my mates and started making lists of acts and shows I wanted to attend like The Rolling Stones, The Who, Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer etc, but just as I was getting to an age where I could do this, out of nowhere came the Punk explosion of 1977, my worst nightmare. Suddenly gone were the days of Love, Peace and Understanding which were quickly replaced by Hate, Anarchy and Confusion, the media had a field day and virtually overnight all the bands that I had ambitions to see were now classed as “Dinosaurs” and “not cool”, the fashion was Mohicans and Safety Pins and the Punk Explosion was deemed to be the new voice of music to take over from the old guard.... or so we were told. ....forty years on and history tells us another story.
Even now it is easy to believe the hype that in 1977 Punk changed the face of music for a generation but a quick Google search will tell us otherwise. That same year Led Zeppelin announced they would play the Knebworth Festival with a capacity of over 200,000 people and at a time before the internet and mobile phones the only way to get tickets was through selected Record Shops across the country which would open especially on a Sunday I remember having to travel to London to get mine, even so they all sold out in a matter of days and a second date was added. Also that year Fleetwood Mac released Rumours one of the biggest selling albums of all time, other albums released in 77 include Hotel California by The Eagles, Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals, Even in the Quietest Moments by Supertramp, as well as releases by Foreigner, AC/DC , Status Quo, Judas Priest, Alice Cooper, Genesis, Thin Lizzy and many more. The following year over 300,00 people attended Blackbushe Aerodrome to see Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton & Joan Armatrading, although Reading Festival made a disastrous attempt to appeal to punks and hippies alike by putting together a line up of Sham 69, The Jam with Status Quo & Lindisfarne, I remember arriving as thousands of people were trying to exit as they were being chased by a few hundred skin heads, I was also mugged later that evening by two guys with a crow bar. Overall it is easy to see that far from being the nail in the coffin of classic rock, 1977 produced some of the finest music we were to hear which even now well outsells some of the more fashionable bands from the time. So perhaps all these years later maybe I wasn’t the “not cool” one after all?