Growing up with Music
I have loved music since the beginning of time - or at least of my time. Some of my first memories were of waking up and watching The Liberace Show on TV and dancing in circles until I threw up. Over time, I learned to enjoy music without getting sick in the process. In the fifties, there were a few rock and roll bands like Bill Haley and the Comets, but for the most part, radio was still owned by the solo artists: Ricky Nelson, Paul Anka, Bobby Darin, Cubby Checker, Bobby Vee, and of course, "The King". By 1960, I was coming into my own musically at the ripe old age of 8. I camped out in front of the family radio the minute dinner was officially pronounced "over". There was Dion, Ray Charles, Del Shannon. Motown was churning out hit after hit with the Marvellettes, The Miracles, and Isley Brothers. In 1961, my sisters bought Town Without Pity by Gene Pitney. It was the only record they owned so it was played constantly. It could have been the end of my interest in music if I hadn't taken the situation into my own hands and hid the record for a while (but it is still a nice tune).
There were new songs every week and the market for younger listeners was growing. The Ronettes, Ruby and Romantics, The Tymes, The Drifters were putting out beautiful ballads while the west coast sound was being introduced by The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean. Then there were the Four Seasons, The Impressions, Major Lance, Lou Christie. And of course if you were a drummer, there was The Surfaris (Wipe Out was a must for any drummer interesting in playing with a band.) There were over eighty-five* different artists represented in the top 100 songs that year. Then one perfect and glorious night, I found WLS in Chicago. (If there are any young readers out there, in the sixties, radio stations were allowed to bump their signal to 50,000 watts at sundown.) This allowed listeners half way across the country to hear stations in remote cites and opened up a whole new world for me.
There were real radio personalities who were almost as popular as the bands. (Sadly, I can still give you the disc jockey line-up for the early sixties and their time slots.) There was east coast music and west coast music; there was the British Invasion; there was Motown; pop and bubble gum (a little later in the decade). By the mid-sixties, there "crooners" like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra who were still charting hits in the top 40. It was a wonderful time for music.
But it was on a Sunday night in February of 1964 that everything changed. The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. There was a rumor that fewer crimes were reported that night during the hours of the show than any other night in history. Maybe only the police were watching ‘ole Ed, or maybe the bad guys liked them too. Who knows?
All of this to say, from that night on all I wanted to do was to be a musician. And not just a musician, I wanted to be a drummer. I was in the band at school, I played drums in a couple of garage bands, occasionally filled in for other local bands, but a musician . . . no. (I know a lot of great musicians so I can say with certainly that I am not one.) But my love for music, that is a whole different thing.
Sadly, I know some great musicians who have no particular love for music. I think I had rather love music and just “get by” as a player, than to be great and have no passion.
If you follow this blog, I will be covering a lot of thoughts about music now and then. I hope you will join in. I would love to hear your memories, likes/dislikes, and thoughts about what music has meant to you.
I will still be posting a lot of strange stuff as well. Till next time. - r
p.s. That is my family's radio that I now have above my desk.
*Lost count but it is somewhere around 80 to 90 different artist.