"We could be heroes .. if just for one day....." - David Bowie
I have been thinking about writing this post since the morning I woke up, turned on the news and then I was started to make my way to start to get ready for the day I heard "David Bowie, dead at 69" and I stopped in my tracks. David Bowie was gone and the thought came to me that all of the Bowie I had heard would be all the Bowie I would hear. No more Bowie. It became clear, for the first time, that the golden age of rock was coming to an end.
I know there will be people who don't agree with me about the golden age of rock thing, but for me it was. I have always considered a generation to be twenty years. For me the opening generation of rock and roll was from 1960 to 1980. Those twenty years was when rock grew up and went through changes and gave us the true legends of rock.
Yes there were the pre-1960 legends. Those that laid the foundation for the generation that was about to burst upon the scene. Buddy Holly, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry were a few of those whose music is the solid base for rock. The world learned early about losing icons and having their music silenced. Buddy Holly and Patsy Cline died in plane crashes. All the Buddy Holly we have now is all we will ever get and to many, including me, it just isn't enough. The Buddy Holly catalog should be much larger than it ended up being.
With the arrival of the sixties rock came into it's own with far too many artists to list here. There were different sounds or styles depending upon where the music originated. There was the British invasion that gave us the Beatles and the Rolling Stones early on. Some of the American artists congregated in a city called Detroit and the Motown sound was created by Berry Gordy. San Fransisco brought it's own sound and New York became a hotbed of song writers in the Brill Building in Hell's Kitchen who would become iconic performers in their own right.
I could write for hours on this but I could not give this period of time justice. This piece isn't about the artist during the generation but rather the passing of a generation. We went though losing kings and queens through accidents which robbed the world of their art long before the world was ready to let go. We lost music to drugs and to mental illness. Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendricks, Jim Morrison had so very much more to give but were taken. Terry Kath, the genius and soul behind the group Chicago killed himself with a bullet shortly after the release of their fifth album. Chicago never matched the quality of the first five albums after Kath's passing. John Denver's brilliance in songwriting went down with his little plane one afternoon A brilliant young songwriter named Jim Croce who had just begun to be noticed by the world from his wonderful songs was in a plane that went down. Stevie Ray Vaughn, one of the undisputed greatest guitar players in history died in a helicopter while heading to a stage.
The heroes of southern rock suffered as well. The group Lynyrd Skynyrd took away one of the greatest voices from the south when their plane found a group of trees instead of the runway. Duane Allman, by my standards the granddaddy of southern rock slid his motorcycle into a truck on a sunny afternoon.
Then there was John Lennon. If you are familiar with this blog, you know how I feel abut John Lennon. It has been thirty five years since his voice was silenced by a mentally disturbed soul. I won't go off on a tangent about Lennon. There are plenty of entries to read on this blog about him and his talent and his death. The Lennon catalog is closed like so many others. No more Lennon.
Lately though I have noticed that the first generation of rock was beginning to be effected by old age. Joni Mitchell and her wonderful voice was silenced by disease as was Linda Ronstandt's. Lou Reed passed away one day and I was saddened. It didn't hit me that time was taking away our rock heroes until that morning when I heard that Bowie had died. A couple of days later, we learned that Glenn Frey of Eagles fame had died. This was when it hit me and believe me it hit me hard.
Bowie was one of the true geniuses of the art and definitely one of my favorites. I truly admired Bowie and his talents. Bowie could transform himself into different personas as his art progressed and became more diverse and finally main stream. Bowie is not with us anymore. He was 69. Glenn Frey was 67. Lou Reed was 71. George Harrison was 58.
I began to think of other rock icons, heroes and realized that most are in their 70's, and closing in on their 80's. Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Pete Townsend, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Carol King, James Taylor, Steven Tyler, Jackson Browne, Robert Plant, John Fogerty plus many many others are more or less in a race against time, a race to continue to produce their art while they still can.
As far as this generation thing goes, I consider U2 to be the last of the generation of 1960-1980. The Magic Generation. The star of U2, Bono, is 55. Bono is still producing art and hopefully he will be for a very long time but there is this thing about time.
You see "Time waits for no one" as the Stones told us many many years ago. We never know when another of these great artists from that great generation will be silenced and there will be no more of their art to appreciate.
When Bono leaves us, the great generation of rock will have come to an end.
Rock on people. Rock on while you still can.
That includes you Mom and Dad.