The Classic Generation 1940 -1950 | The Concert Experience
The Founding Generation of Rock 'n' Roll (1910 - 1925)
Technologically the beginning of the 20th century captures a newly recorded generation of Blues men and women through the development of the phonograph record. I start with Bessie Smith (1894) as "Mother of the Blues, and five key individuals as the founding fathers of rock 'n' roll- Howlin' Wolf (1910), Robert Johnson (1911), Sonny Boy Williamson (1912), Willie Dixon (1915), and Muddy Waters (1915).
Recorded folk music during that same birth era begins with the legendary Woody Guthrie (1912). I view Woody Guthrie as the 'Father of Folk' in that he lived the life of a common man who connected his music to democracy and people living at or below the poverty line. Woody labeled his guitars with the slogan, "This Machine Kills Fascists" and carried the torch for the power of the protest song.
The Pioneering Generation of Rock 'n' Roll (1925 - 1940)
|Phil and Don Everly|
I know I've left out other legends I should've included like Jerry Lee Lewis, but sorry, he was never a favorite of mine and remember, he married his 13 year old cousin for God's sake!
On the folk side, I've got to include Lead Belly (1888) that leads to Pete Seeger (1919) that leads to Bob Dylan (1941).
You can make all kinds of linage links like- Robert Johnson to Muddy Waters to B.B. King to Eric Clapton. There is no one straight line because the above lists are a small but definitive collective of influential artists that stood on the shoulders of the previous generations.
The Classic Generation of Rock 'n' Roll (1940 - 1950)
Building off the founding and pioneering generations of artists and music, the great majority of the classic generation of rock 'n' roll artists were born in Britain, the United States, and Canada between 1940 - 1950.
The Classic Generation of Rock 'n' Roll (1940 - 1950)
In my humble opinion, this is the greatest generation of rock 'n' rollers the world has ever produced, large in part to the effects and after effects of World War II.
In regards to the after effects of World War II, the greatest generation got busy making babies from 1946 - 1964 and created the largest generation of children that in the USA became to be known as the "baby boomers." I land in the middle with the birth class of 1955 where I'm too young to see The Beatles and Stones in the 60's, and too stupid not to catch Dylan, the Stones and The Who in the 70's.
An explosion of musical talent emerged onto USA and UK stages and on television as these now twenty somethings were landing record deals, not to mention that they were by and large writing their own material that went on their records.
|The Rolling Stones|
This Part I blog is also a precursor to a Part II guide (from my baby boomer's perspective) of current music concerts. This includes the boomers themselves, to their children, and to their grandchildren, all attending these live shows with artists still performing in their 70's. Look for The Concert Experience blog next week as a follow up to this time line in history.
Now for the essential 1940-1950 rock 'n' roll birth list with my little commentary and personal opinion... and that's why it's called a blog.
1940 - John Lennon and Ringo Starr. John Lennon only lived to 40 years old and is still is one of the top 10 songwriters of rock 'n' Roll. Paul McCartney and John Lennon are the best songwriting duo of all time.
Ringo Starr simply gets overlooked by many, but is the best rock 'n' roll drummer of all time. Ringo tours with his All-Star band, a rotating group of top hit making musicians. You have to see Ringo, he tours constantly. I saw him in concert several years ago and sat in the second row with my wife, Mary Kit. We were 10 feet from Ringo and that's the closest we are ever going to be get to a Beatle.
|Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band|
The Beatles are the greatest band of all time and the most influential band ever, in any genre .
1939/1940 - Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson. The princes of Motown. Nobody sang like Marvin. Smokey is what I call a "5 tool musician" - songwriter, leader of the band, singer, producer and influencer.
1940 - Levon Helm. The original band leader of 'Levon and the Hawks' before the band renamed itself to The Band in 1968, one of the most influential bands in rock 'n' roll history. In my opinion, Levon Helm is the 'heart beat' of The Band who never wanted The Band to split in 1975.
1941 - Bob Dylan. The most important song writer in rock 'n' roll history. Bob wrote the anthems for a generation. A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall (1962), Blowin' in the Wind (1963), The Times They Are a-Changin (1964), Like a Rolling Stone" (1965), I could go on and on, but listen to his lesser known songs like, Only a Pawn in their Game (1964) and With God on our Side (1964) and you realize nobody writes like Bobby Dylan.
|Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon|
1941 - Harry Nilsson. The Beatles favorite singer, and one of mine too. Harry's voice was kissed by the gods.
1942 - Paul McCartney. The greatest songwriter in rock 'n' roll history. His career speaks for itself. Paul releases a new album of new material every several years and tours constantly. I saw Paul last week in Phoenix. At 77, he plays for 3 straight hours without a break other than to tell great short stories and does a total of 38 songs. Paul will keep you young my friends.
|The Beach Boys|
1942 - Aretha Franklin. Queen of Soul. Grew up with Smokey Robinson in Detroit just a couple of blocks away and they always looked out for each other throughout their lives. She sang so many great songs, including You Make Me Feel Like a Nature Woman, written for her by the next person on this list.
1942 - Carole King. One of the Top 10 songwriters of rock 'n' roll who writes more than two dozen top hits for other artists in the 1960's with first husband Gerry Goffin, and then writes and sings her own huge hits in the 1970's. Tapestry held the record for most weeks at No. 1 by a female artist for more than 20 years.
1942 - Jimi Hendrix. Often called the Greatest electric guitar player of rock 'n' roll. However, Jimi was only on the world stage for three years from 1967 - 1970 and his tragic death at 27 due to an overdose puts him into my category of "Sure Could Have Been." It would have been great to see Jimi Hendrix at the Forum in 2019, we all could only wish...
1943 - George Harrison. The youngest Beatle who also died way to young at 58. He wrote great songs with The Beatles and in his solo career, and with The Traveling Wilburys. One of the greatest things George ever did was create the concept of Love the theater production with Cirque du Soleil's Guy Laliberté. You have to go see Love at the Mirage in Las Vegas. Here is the ticket information, just do it. The Beatles live on here like nothing you've ever seen or heard. Thank you George!
1943 - Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The two founding members of the Best Rock 'n' Band of all time, The Rolling Stones. What's the distinction between greatest (The Beatles) and best you say? Well you figure it out. I will say longevity has something to do with it. I remember in the 80's, some in the media were calling U2 the best rock and roll band, please that just made me laugh out loud.
Mick Jagger is the best front man/lead singer in a band of all time. Keith Richards trading off between lead and rhythm guitar is the creator of the greatest riffs of all time. Keith Richards is also the greatest band leader of all time. One of my favorite documentaries is the 1987 Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll. What I love about this movie is Keith Richards trying his level best to lead Chuck towards the best performance he and the band can give in front of the cameras. Richards tells the story (I can't remember if it's in the movie) that Chuck, his boyhood idol gets mad at him and slugs him in the mouth. Jealousy runs deep in rock 'n' roll, but don't you think in Chuck's heart of hearts he knew Keith Richards was a very special cat and very much at Chuck's level.
1943 - Randy Newman. One of the greatest songwriters of all time. Randy's songs are good stories and there's nothing better than a good story.
1943 - Roger Waters. Founding member of Pink Floyd and still touring!
1943 - Jim Morrison. Founding member of The Doors and still dead. Jim is one of rock's great coincidences of rock stars dying in their 27th year. Light My Fire is one of my top 10 favorite rock 'n' roll songs and one hell of a coming of age song for a 12 year old.
1943 - Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, and Richard Manuel. Along with Garth Hudson (1937) and Levon Helm (1940) were all members of The Band, one of the greatest rock 'n' roll bands of all-time and fathers of the 'Americana' genre of music.
1944/1945 - Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. The Who for
1944/1946 - Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons. I call both, "The Godfathers of Country Rock" for their influence in the seminal album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo with The Byrds, and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Gram then left The Flying Burrito Brothers and did two solo albums with Emmylou Harris before dying at the tender age of 26 due to a drug overdose.
1944/1948 - Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. Interesting that the leaders of Led Zeppelin follow Townshend and Daltrey here as both bands have great showman lead singers and guitar phenoms. Led Zeppelin powered 1970's rock like no other and all the heavy metal bands that followed them never even come close to writing and performing songs like Led Zeppelin.
|The current Fleetwood Mac|
1945 - Eric Clapton. One of the Greatest Guitarists of all time in so many fantastic bands including - The Yardbirds, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominos.
But what separates Eric from all the great electric guitar players of his generation is he could sing better than any of them. Clapton is also one of the greatest songwriters of all time spanning the Blues, rock 'n' roll, pop, rock and country rock. A 5 tool musician who is currently doing select concerts here and there. I saw Clapton two years ago with Gary Clark Jr. and Jimmie Vaughan at the The Forum, the best place to see a concert on the west coast.
|Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young|
1945 - John Fogerty. Creedance Clearwater Revival, one of my favorite bands in 7th grade (1967-68). Saw him several years ago in Las Vegas and he blew me away, fantastic show!
1945 - Van Morrison. Starts his career with the band Them and writes the mid-sixties monster hit Gloria. Morrison then goes solo and the hits keep coming with, Brown Eyed Girl, Moondance, Domino, and Wild Night. "Van the Man" has put out 40 studio albums and just never stops with new material and its all very very good. Celtic Soul baby.
1945 - Leo Kottke. My favorite acoustic guitar instrumentalist. His unique style of finger picking bends the strings and the genres. Nobody plays quite like Leo.
1946 - John Prine. Another Godfather of Americana and creative songwriter of his generation.
1946/1947 - Freddy Mercury and Brian May. Queen is the best live show in rock 'n' roll history, not that I have ever seen them live but I've seen the video. This month, I get to see Queen + Adam Lambert at The Forum. Now won't that be a blast!
1947 - Elton John. From 1970 - 1975, nobody was bigger. In 1975, my girlfriend won a lottery for two tickets to see him perform a benefit for the Jules Stein Eye Institute at the 300 seat capacity Troubadour in Los Angeles. This is the best concert I have been to in my life, not to mention that my girlfriend got kissed by Bernie Taupin that night, I didn't mind. That same girlfriend is going to see Elton John at the Tacoma Dome in September on his farewell tour. Remember, sometimes it is too late, so don't be.
1947 - David Bowie. In 1973 that same girlfriend turned me on to Ziggy Stardust and my little world was starting to get a little bigger...
|Gram Parson and Emmy Lou Harris|
1947 - Jeff Lynne. In 1970 Jeff Lynne created the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) and along with Badfinger keep the spirit of The Beatles alive at least through their hit songs. Jeff would become fast friends with George Harrison and formed the Traveling Wilburys together in the late 1980's. I just saw ELO a couple of weeks ago in Anaheim and it was a fabulous show, you must see ELO! Here is my recent blog on that concert.
1947/1948 - Don Henley (1947), Glen Frey (1948),
1948 - Steve Winwood. Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith and a great solo career. He's still on my bucket list. How could Eric Clapton leave Steve and Blind Faith? That Eric is a fickle one...
1948 - James Taylor. Influenced by my friend Paul Hobbs, I started listening to James and believe he is one of the best singer-songwriters in rock 'n' roll history. Sweet Baby James is one of the top 10 songs in rock 'n' roll. James has a singing voice for the ages and is one of the best pickers around. I finally got to see James in the late 80's and then a second time in 2015 at the San Diego Sports Arena. And hey, if I couldn't be Stephen Stills in 1966, I'd be James Taylor in 1968.
1948 - Jackson Browne. Jackson grew up in Los Angeles and traveled up US 101 as the beginning tapestry for his songwriting that just pulled me to him musically. He is one of the five top songwriters in rock 'n' roll history, but as Woody Guthrie said about Bob Dylan, "it's his singing voice." Jackson in fact has the perfect voice to communicate his writing, it is so real and he makes it look and sound so easy. A gift for the ages! Late for the Sky is my favorite Jackson Browne album, I burned the grooves out of that vinyl record. And hey, if I couldn't be James Taylor, I'd be Jackson Browne in 1970.
1949 - Bruce Springsteen. He represents the last group of superstars born before the 1950's that sustained classic rock 'n' roll with fresh talent in the mid 1970's, that continues to this day. Bruce is one of the rare artists who keeps putting out fresh material decade in and decade out. Check out the east coast boss of rock 'n' roll do a little west coast sound on his latest album just released in June, Western Stars.
I still have not seen Bruce live, another bucket not yet fulfilled.
1949 - Mark Knopfler. One of my BFF Bill DeVoe's favorite rock 'n' rollers of all time, mine too. So WTF dude why haven't we gone to a concert together to see him? Like Bruce Springsteen, Mark Knopfler keeps putting out fresh material all the time and it just gets better. Mark's my favorite guitar player, both acoustic and electric, but he's also one of the greatest songwriters in rock 'n' roll history too. Like Jackson Browne, his singing voice matches his writing and I'm so excited to see him at the Santa Barbara Bowl in September!
1950 - Stevie Wonder. You forget how young Little Stevie Wonder was when he was signed by Motown at age 11 and had a No. I hit, Fingertips at age 13. Here he is in the last group of rock stars born in the "classic period" in 1950 and already had a big hit in 1963! But that was only the start as he and Elton John lead the 1970's. His songs are so infectious and probably he did more for racial harmony through his music than any other artist in rock 'n' roll history. He is one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time. Have you ever met anybody that did not love Stevie Wonder?
|Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers|
1950 - Tom Petty and Mike Campbell. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers just next to the Stones, are the best rock 'n' roll band of all time. I remember being at my neighbor's house in the early 90's and listening to his tricked out video/stereo system with a laserdisc concert film of the band. I literally had never heard and seen anything to match Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Tom took everything from the masters born in the 1940's and made it into his own hybrid of pure classic rock 'n' roll. Mike Campbell is one of my favorite electric guitar players and I just love how he just walks the stage playing so effortlessly.
Mary Kit and I had the chance to see Tom and the band at Safeco Field in Seattle in one of his last concerts in August, 2017 just before he died that October. Tom, Mike and the band toured constantly over the decades and I thought after the Safeco concert, "Next time I want to see him at The Forum."
Hail! Hail! rock 'n' roll!
Okay, who did I leave out? You may be are saying, Stevie Nicks (1948), my wife is gasping at this omission, or Billy Joel (1949), or Peter Gabriel (1950) , or Sting (1951) Relax, I love all these people, (well Stevie Nicks is okay I guess), just didn't include them here as that's Rolling Stone's job, and I'm determined to publish this blog by midnight on this Monday.
Lastly, so our great classic rock stars born between 1940 - 1950 are mostly in their 70's today and not getting any younger. The time for seeing these "classic live wires" is a window that is sadly starting to close. So, go see them in concert whether it is the first time or tenth time. You won't regret it!
Check out my Part II next week for tips and tricks on seeing your favorite artists in concert!
And, no new playlist this week by the Monday publishing deadline. But not to fret, I have My 100 Songs and Second 100 Songs to classically fall back on. Enjoy my friends!
My 100 Songs
My Second 100 Songs