We’re in the 2000-and-teenies, so it goes without saying music of five or six decades ago is not going to be heard or played very much now. After all, it has to be accepted that today’s music simply reflects the times in which we live, and that music is something many of those `not of these times’ have difficulty tolerating!
Well, you know there are all sorts – pop, reggae, hip-hop, rap, rock, soul and r’n’b, grunge, garage, heavy metal and other metals and so many more genres some of us just can’t get our heads around. However, as with Country music (even hilly billy) folk, jazz, big band, and so on there is an interest in all of those genres some, with more of a following than others, so it follows 60s music, along with 70s and all the other decades of mainstream pop music up to the present, have their aficionados also.
I am a devotee of the sixties, not just because of my age but very much so because I was part of the swinging 60’s as a member of a band or pop group playing residencies in top London hotels and other places, making records, whilst also appearing on national and regional TV and radio. Our group never had hit records but performed on occasions alongside the big groups of the day like, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Tremeloes, the Foundations, Blue Mink and a number of others. I also attended recording sessions providing backing vocals alongside Elton John, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich and other names I don’t presently recall. And of course, it goes without saying it was the era of the Beatles and the whole transformation that followed, not just in music, but everything else that `changed’ during the swinging sixties. So the music and experiences of that decade are pretty much ingrained in me, hence the reason for highlighting all of this – mainly to support the enthusiasm that exists for the genre and the memories held by many, those songs of the sixties and seventies bring back heart-warming reminiscences when listening to our favourites being played.
Well I’ve been following many of those 60s groups who were big during that time and some may be surprised to know, long after the handful – in some cases only one or two – hits they may have had, many of them are still working and very much in demand in the UK, USA, Australia and very especially in Northern Europe in places like Germany, Holland, Belgium and elsewhere where 60s and 70s acts are still sought-after. They go on Nostalgia Tours where five or six 60s acts set off on 30, 40 or 50 dates and those tour offers are also extended to acts of the 80s, 90s and even going back to 50s hit makers who now include octogenarian pop stars still willing and able to rock the stage! In many of these groups the line-up may only include one, perhaps two original members and in some cases no originals at all with one individual who would have joined as a replacement during the original group’s existence and he or she may have taken over the group name under some arrangement to continue touring playing the group’s hits with no original members in the line-up.
Half a century or more since their heyday, groups like the Searchers, Marmalade, Herman’s Hermits, The Merseybeats, Gerry and the Pacemakers (about to, or recently retired) continue to do extremely well embarking on these tours taking in scores of towns and cities. These groups don’t tire of performing and are clearly making a decent living even today. As regards the big names like, The Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin and others well, they come together every few years and fill venues of 20,000 and more, making a mint as they go. Commercials on TV often carry 60s and 70s songs in the advert. Proof, that decades-old music is still very much alive! To boot, there are any number of `tribute bands’ doing the rounds rolling out the hits of yesteryear’s performers, some performing on the Rock in recent times. For obvious reasons, audiences at events featuring past decades’ top groups and singers don’t attract enough fans to fill arenas and stadiums any more, but halls, civic centres, theatres and smaller open-air venues, like Casemates and the MUGA venue by the Tercentenary Hall here, will pull in, oldies- music enthusiasts in their hundreds and single figure thousands. Locally we’ve had our fair share of sixties and seventies performers over the years, The Barron Knights, Wayne Fontana, The Tremeloes, Rubettes, Emile Ford, Status Quo and of course, Albert Hammond… and there are others. The tribute outfits that have come our way include, Rod Stewart, Boney M, Queen, ABBA, and how can we forget The Four Seasons’ hit songs of the early sixties in the shape of The Jersey Boys who have appeared here a number of times at different venues over the past few years, and they keep returning! We’re also blessed with our own very good tribute band known as The Rock Shadows who produce an excellent copy of the instrumental, 60s legends, `The Shadows’. The present Rock Shadows line-up includes, Tony, Douglas, Johnny, Emilio, Eric and another Emilio who comes in also with great Cliff Richard tributes! The Rock Shadows have gone down a bomb at the Fair pavilion, Central Hall, the Piazella (by the Eliott Hotel), other venues around the Rock and also held very successful 60s nights at the Rock on the Rock club – home of music by and large, far removed from what The Rock Shadows and their twangy, echoey guitars produce: They’ve been going now for a number of years and are often asked in the street when their next concert is due. As an offshoot of that brand of 60s instrumental music, some of its members (with Bob Randall of It Takes Two), are already in rehearsals putting together 60s and 70s hit songs of the vocal kind, from the likes of Beatles classics, to I’m a Believer and 70s greats by the Eagles and more. `Bob and the Boys’ will soon be taking you back a few decades at a venue or dance floor near you. Yes, `nostalgia,’ seems to be the thing for many.
So you see, despite yesteryear’s pop stars not making headlines, nor filling large venues to the rafters, the music of the 60s and 70s – as well as that of other decades – is very much active, healthy and functioning well for its promoters and fans. What’s more, oldies’ radio stations are everywhere too. I tune into Radio Caroline Flashback taking you back to the days of Pirate Radio where they play music of the 50s, 60, and 70s – not unlike Radio Gibraltar’s `Yesterday When I Was Young,’ you might say… Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!