Your Classic Rockers Live On HDNET

When I was a teenager and into my twenties rock and roll music was the backbone of my life.  It was a featured and essential part of each day.  It began with sitting on the floor for hours and hours listening to my older brother’s singles and albums on a cheap little “phonograph”.  That experience transformed into my first 45 rpm purchases such as Get Off of My Cloud by The Rolling Stones and Indiana Wants Me by R. Dean Taylor to buying such albums as Machine Head by Deep Purple and Band on the Run by Paul McCartney and Wings.  In the beginning of my rock and roll upbringing, I was all over the place in my tastes.  I owned every Chicago and Elton John album and I had stuff from Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top and on and on.

Into the mid and late 70’s I became a devoted fan of what is now considered “classic rock”.  Ted Nugent was my personal mainstay, along with the staples of Zeppelin, The Stones, The Who, The Beatles, Cream, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Scorpions and in my weakest moments in high school, bands like Journey, REO Speedwagon, Styx, and others who would eventually sell out and cement their images as bands that perfected the rock ballad.  During this time, I also picked up and started playing the guitar.  I bought my first Stratocaster when I was 17 and I had a Marshall amp with four 12-inch speakers and a 150 watt head always at the ready.  My claim to fame was being able to learn how to play the basics of any song after listening to it for only a few minutes.

By the time I graduated high school, I knew a thing or two about rock and roll.  I grew up in the Detroit area, and at that time, the place was overflowing with local bands and bands that had made it on the big stage.  Ted Nugent and Bob Seger led the way with Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop, and you had smaller bands like The Rockets, The Romantics and many more.  Bands like Kiss and the J. Geils Band considered Detroit to be their second home, demonstrated by the live albums they recorded there.  We had the big venues and the smaller theatres to host bands of any draw.  We Detroiters knew DETROIT was the real rock and roll capital of the planet.  Because of my musical background, I decided to get into radio as an air personality after high school so I went to broadcasting school.

During my eight years in the radio business, I had the opportunity to work with several music formats and in turn, I met several performers backstage.  I was uniquely fortunate to meet up with stars like Rod Stewart, Ratt, Bob Dylan and others.  It was pretty cool to say the least.  I think what I enjoyed most about my exposure to rock music was that I always wanted to be the guy on stage belting out guitar licks.  I wanted to be the one people in the crowd worshipped.  To me, the guitar was the all-powerful tool to amaze and mesmerize people.  I lived my life through many guitar gods and unfortunately, my only stage performance came when playing a small guitar solo during Freebird with a band at a high school dance when I was 18.  Three minutes of fame still fueled my commitment to the world’s most powerful music.

Ok, so where am I going with this?  WHAT IS MY F’IN POINT?

It’s no secret rock and roll took a downturn in the 80’s.  Once the disco era came to an appropriate end, rock and roll was exhausted and reeling from its winning battle against the Bee Gees and the others who tried to make disco a viable musical force.  The 80’s saw the end of many of rock’s greatest bands because of drugs, death, and greed.  Superficial no-talents such as Madonna and Michael Jackson pushed rock and roll down the ladder a few rungs, and this was painful to witness.  I don’t think rock and roll, in the sense it was in the 60’s and 70’s, has ever returned to the mainstream.  Sure, metal appeared on the scene and spawned some great acts like Metallica, but the days of the classic rock and roll sound seemed to be sadly over.

Being DirecTV subscribers with Tivo, Kim and I scour the television bandwidth for interesting things to watch now that we have ten gazillion channels of muck to sift through.  Our greatest discovery has been HDNET.  To our absolute delight, HDNET offers the HDNET Concert Series.  In these broadcasts, you can find full-length, high definition performances of your favorite bands new and old.  What we really like is when they offer recently recorded broadcasts of some of our classic rock favorites.  What’s astounding to see is how some of these artists can still belt ‘em out but with a different type of attitude.  They’re not performing because they have a commitment to management or a five-thousand-dollar-a-day cocaine habit they have to feed.  They’re out there for the sheer fun of performing, just like when they first started decades ago.  While onstage, these performers are smiling and it’s plain to see they are truly enjoying what they’re doing, many for the first time in their careers.  They appreciate the fans coming out and at this later stage of their lives, they play the music while taking nothing for granted and they live in that exact moment.  The bond between the bands and the audience seems stronger now than it ever was before.

Recently we watched Peter Frampton Live in Detroit 2002.  Kim and I have always been fans of Frampton, plus this show was recorded at what was then called The Pine Knob Music Theatre, an outdoor amphitheatre in Clarkston, Michigan, a northern suburb of Detroit.  Kim and I have seen many concerts there and it’s a great place to see a show and a big piece of our nostalgic past.  I didn’t expect very much from the show, but by the time it was over I was in awe of this guy once again.  Lacking his long blonde hair of the 70’s, here was Frampton, a mature, fun-loving musician, performing at the top of his game.  It was plain to see he was having a ball, playing the music that made him famous in front of fans he comes back to Detroit to play for every year.  There were several times in many songs he’d just stop singing, letting the audience take over to complete the stanza.  His guitar playing seemed better than when he was at his sales peak in the 70’s and you could tell he just enjoyed playing for the thousands who faithfully turned out to see him.

Peter Frampton isn’t the only show like this we’ve seen.  I’ve never been a big fan of Queen.  I’ve always thought Freddie Mercury was an over-the-top fairy.  Being a guitar player, though, I have always admired Brian May’s style of play.  Recently on HDNET we saw Queen and Paul Rodgers perform in the Ukraine in front of 300,000 people.  This resurrection of the band was a stunning combination of Queen and Bad Company’s classic hits and a surprising wow factor.  Again, these guys, much older than when they were charting hits in the 70’s, thoroughly enjoyed performing again.  It was so evident you couldn’t help but have a warm spot in your heart for the music you thought had disappeared forever from the face of the earth!

These are only two of the many performances we’ve seen on the HDNET Concert Series.  Other acts, like The Brian Setzer Orchestra and James Taylor were equally as amazing to watch.  By the way, does anyone realize that Brian Setzer, formerly of The Stray Cats, is actually a great guitar player?  The Stray Cats performance recently on the series was another fun-loving gem.  You can also catch The Moody Blues, Meatloaf, Heart, Kansas, Cowboy Junkies and more of your old favorites in the near future on the series.

If you’ve been wondering where your favorite acts from the 70’s have gone, make sure you check out the upcoming schedule for the HDNET Concert Series.  You’ll be glad you did, and in this world of millions of cable and satellite television channels out there, this programming will give you a happy spot in your heart and a trip down a memory lane where you might belong.

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1 Comment

  1. I Had A Frampton Flash Forward! « Unknown Quantity

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