Jimi Hendrix grew up in Seattle in the 1950s, learning the Twelve-bar blues as a teenager. Whilst in the army he came under the influence of the electric blues of artists such as Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King and Muddy Waters. After he was discharged in 1962 he became involved in the chitlin’ circuit, playing with figures such as Little Richard. Former Animals member, Eric Burdon, says Hendrix could not get off the ground in the US because black blues was not popular there. Meanwhile, the English music scene was learning to play the blues from the US records they bought, with bands forming like The Rolling Stones, who began
by copying American blues numbers. When they started to write their own songs they gave them a sexual swagger and a new direction. Whites playing the blues made it more acceptable to the white US audience reintroducing the style to America. When Hendrix moved to New York City he came under the influence of British blues music, especially that of Jeff Beck of the Yardbirds and Eric Clapton, who had become famous with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. While living in Harlem he also came under the influence of Bob Dylan, whose “Like a Rolling Stone” revolutionised rock. For Hendrix this inspired him to begin singing, having previously been selfconscious about his voice.
PIONEERS IN US AND UK
Another English band, The Who, inspired him most. With a roughness and a high octane sound, they created the modern stage presence with the theatrics of destroying their equipment, such as playing the guitar by ramming it against the floor and speakers. However, despite his UK success, Hendrix was still largely ignored in his home country. This was to change when he played the Monterey Pop Festival at the height of The Summer of Love. The Who played first, with an aggression never before seen in the U.S.A. Hendrix stunned the crowds further with his explosive sound and showmanship culminating in setting fire to his guitar. In 1966, The Beatles had taken refuge in the studio, transforming themselves from a pop band to psychedelic pioneers. When Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in 1967, Hendrix covered it on one of the experience’s next shows. Having seen the power of the studio album he went on to create Electric Ladyland. However, it led to Hendrix becoming more deeply involved in drugs and Chas Chandler leaving as manager.
In 1967, Pink Floyd published “Arnold Layne”, a song about a clothes-stealing transvestite, introducing a new concept in pop music, psychedelia. Like Andy Warhol did with The Velvet Underground in the US, they turned their shows into multimedia spectacles. Warhol came up with the idea of projecting films on the background of the stage. With Peter Jenner seeing Pink Floyd as the English version of the Velvet Underground, they decided to use this medium to illustrate the songs they were singing, projecting what effectively were the first music clips on a large screen behind the band. The shows grew ever more weird, and others followed. David Bowie was inspired by the weirdness of Velvet Underground and the madness of Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett (as exemplified by his Jugband Blues). Bowie created an alter-ego named Ziggy Stardust, which gave him an excuse to dress up on stage. Genesis’ Peter Gabriel took Bowie’s stage act even further dressing in even more elaborate and bizarre costumes; “Compared to what Gabriel wore on stage, Bowie was dressed for a night at the pub.” Another new thing in rock music was experimenting with sounds. Roxy Music introduced an oboe to rock. And when Pink Floyd wondered what a piano would sound like through a Leslie speaker, they came up with the intro to Echoes, a piece that lasted the entire second side of the album Meddle. The stage performances of songs could also last much longer than the album versions. The performances grew so large that Pink Floyd felt ever more alienated from the audience and decided to ‘protest’ against that by putting up such a large performance with huge puppets for the stage show of The Wall that the band became almost invisible. During the show they built up a wall
white light, whi
on stage between themselves and the audience making them literally invisible. This performance lasted only four shows and marked the end of this age of rock.
ite heat art rock 1966 - 1980
The story of how artistic and conceptual expression permeated rock. From the popart multi-media experiments of Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground to the sinister gentility of Peter Gabrielâ€™s Genesis, White Light, White Heat Place traces how rock became a vehicle for artistic ideas and theatrical performance. We follow Pink Floyd from the fated art school genius of Syd Barrett through the global success of Dark Side of the Moon to the ultimate rock theatre show, The Wall. Along the way, the film explores the retro-futurism of Roxy Music and the protean world of David Bowie.
A tale of two cities, London and New York and the birth of Punk. Each city created a bastard child that marked the biggest and fundamental shift in popular music since Elvis walked into Sun Studios. Blank Generation unpicks the relationship between the bankrupt New York and the class and race-riven London of the mid- s and explores the music of
themselves; that is what rock & roll is all about. Punk was DIY; the bands invented themselves, and the punkers made their own clothes. The Ramones sang about the street life experiences of kids in Queens. The Sex Pistols started with covers of mod classics by The Who, but of course, they soon went DIY too in that respect, although that did not prevent Glen Matlock from letting ABBA’s “SOS” inspire him for the guitar riff in “Pretty Vacant”.
Punk was class rage Television, The Damned and Buzzcocks. “In 1975, New York City was near bankruptcy and no fun at all. London was not much better. In this tale of two cities, from the worst of times came the best of times: punk rock.” Punk went back to the roots. If people saw a show they should get the feeling that they could do that
According to Charles Shaar Murray, “The New York punks were bohemians or aspired to be, and the London punks were yobs or aspired to be.” According to Sex Pistol John Lydon, the indignation was not put on; “We suffer, and you can fuck off for it!”
Punk 1973 - 1980
When the Sex Pistols went to the US, they wanted to show them what punk was really about, but instead it destroyed them. They had no fun, so they decided to take that to the extreme in their last show in San Francisco in 1978, playing a typically raucous show, and ending (as an Encore) with a cover of The Stooges song ‘No Fun’. Before going off stage, John Lydon remarked “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” Lydon later commented: “That was directed to the whole world, including us.” After leaving, Lydon started Public Image Ltd, and ushered in the post-punk era.
devils awake... The story of the longest surviving and certainly the loudest genre of rock, heavy metal. With no sign of disappearing, metal has been the most controversial and misunderstood of all rock genres. Emerging at the tail end of the hippy dream from the rust belt of industrial England, heavy metal would go on to secure the most loyal fan base of all. With Black Sabbath as the undisputed Godfathers, we follow their highs and lows, and, along the journey, meet Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Metallica.
Heavy Metal 1970 - 1991
Heavy metal is the music critics love to hate, but also the longest lasting mainstay of rock music. More than any other band at the time, Black Sabbath were influenced by their surroundings, heavily industrialised Birmingham. This was even more true for guitarist Tony Iommi, who cut off the tips of two fingers in a steel factory. When he tried to solve this problem by melting a washing up liquid bottle, and forming two ‘thimbles’ for his fingers, he found that by tuning his guitar down three semitones (to C#), he could play just as easily, and also get a very different, altogether much darker sound (although this was not used until their third album). Another inspiration for the band came from the movie theatre across the street. Sabbath decided that if people were eager to pay money to be scared, then maybe they should play scary music.
In 1971, when Deep Purple were in Montreux to record the album Machine Head, they were themselves scared by a fire in the casino when “some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground” during a concert by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Since their recording studio was also in the casino, they decided to make the album in their hotel. On the last day they needed to record one more song and decided to simply tell the story of their recording session, which became the lyrics to Smoke on the Water.
By the end of the 1980s, Metal had become too commercial for some fans, with groups like the W.A.S.P., Hanoi Rocks and Poison having huge success. Influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, another new sound had risen to prominence in the US, where metal had a huge following: thrash metal, a style that went beyond in many respects, being faster and heavier than anything that had come before. But playing the guitar ever faster had reached a ceiling and at the turn of the decade, Metallica, one of the inventors of thrash, decided to turn that around and adopt a very slow, heavy, sound. The result was ‘The Black Album’ which went on to sell over 15 million copies and “proved that metal, never in fashion, but never out of fashion, will always just keep on going”.
Stadium Rock 1965 - 1993 We Are The Champions follows the development of some the biggest names in Rock, among them Queen, Bruce Springsteen, The Police and Dire Straits and shows how, through events such as Live Aid and the rise of MTV, rock achieved a global influence on culture and politics. The film concludes in the early 90s, as U2 effectively brought the era to a close by reinventing the big rock show so completely, that fifteen years later most major rock tours are still pale facsimiles.
We Are the Champions One of the first big bands of stadium rock was Led Zeppelin, who played to audiences of 50,000. They were so successful that they could take 90% of the revenue, leaving only 10% for the promoters, who were used to taking the largest slice of the pie. But in the case of Led Zeppelin even 10% was worth their while. Queen took this even further and played for audiences of 130.000, filling big stadiums. This was in part due to the act they put on. In the US, Kiss took that even further, ignoring the music and focusing purely on the act. They made their money largely from merchandise, which was bought by children who knew nothing of Rock and Roll and the merchandise alone gave them a revenue of 50 million dollars per year. In the US, Bruce Springsteen also became one of the icons of stadium rock, almost against his own will. He kept playing clubs when he could have been playing theatres and he kept playing theatres when he could have been playing stadiums. But ironically, it was exactly this ‘regular guy’ attitude that made him popular.
When The Police had made it in England, they first financed their own tour of the US (where for a while they became the biggest band) and then started going to countries where few other western bands had gone before. Queen did something similar by touring South America and filling huge football stadiums. In Japan they were received as warmly as The Beatles. This was all topped by Live Aid, which was heard by a third of the world population. Bob Geldof: “It turned out the lingua franca of the world was not English, but Rock and Roll.” U2 was the last great band to emerge from stadium rock. Zoo TV brought the TV on stage. And they introduced another new phenomenon, the B-stage, in the middle of the audience, where they were totally surrounded by them, thus reversing the ongoing development of the bands getting ever further separated from their audiences.
The rise of alternative rock in the USA. From its early underground days where bands like Black Flag drew inspiration from the DIY ethos of punk, Left Of The Dial traces the history of the network of fans, clubs and fanzines that sustained the scene and launched the careers of bands like R.E.M., The Pixies and Hüsker Dü. The film takes a fresh look at the explosion of the Seattle scene, culminating in the success of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ and the tragic loss of Kurt Cobain, an artist whose triumph and tragedy continues to cast an inescapable shadow. “Seattle, Washington, USA. In the early 1990s the music capital of the world. Home to grunge, teen spirit and the kings of alternative rock, Nirvana, the band that brought the sound of the American underground to a mass audience.” Alternative rock was a reaction to the shock treatment of Reaganomics, leading to Generation X, that couldn’t identify with the studio-polished rock that filled mainstream radio and MTV. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic were part of this generation and inspired by groups such as Black Flag, who played a more fitting musical style, hardcore punk. Alternative rock was in the early 1980s called college rock because it was mostly played by campus radio stations, who broadcast in the lower bandwidths that were not shown on the dials of radios, so listeners had to turn the knob ‘left of the dial’. These were also forced to tour constantly and play in small venues with groups such as The Replacements and Sonic Youth.
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The founding band of alternative rock, R.E.M., toured non-stop from 5 April 1980 to the end of 1989, so they laid down their guitars and Peter Buck picked up a mandolin, resulting in the song “Losing My Religion”, that would be the start of the sound that gave them worldwide fame. Nirvana experienced a similar change, starting with Cobain’s song “About a Girl”, which he was unsure about because it was so ‘poppy’. Another inspiration for their new sound was the way they started every recording session, taking half an hour for a free-style jam, in which they experimented with how soft or how loud they could play. Cobain liked the contrast and had always wondered what it would sound like if one mixed Black Sabbath with The Beatles. He dreamed of noise and melody, hard guitars and harmonies. Nirvana created a sound that blended the fury of grunge with a new feel for melody and the mass commercial appeal of R.E.M., leading to what would become alternative rock’s anthem, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. There were some reservations about the song because it sounded like a Pixies rip-off, a band that had been playing exactly that dynamic mix of soft and loud music. Thanks to the success of Nirvana, R.E.M. and Mudhoney, Alternative Rock and Grunge went mainstream and record companies bought up as many of these small bands as possible, leading to the commercial success of groups such as Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam.
e g n u r g f o r
980 - 1994
The story of British indie, beginning with The Smiths, the archetypal indie group. The film follows The Stone Roses as the heirs to the indie crown, Suede’s dark sexuality and the media saturation of Brit-pop’s Blur v Oasis. What The World Is Waiting For explores how indie ultimately lost its once-cherished intimacy and integrity in front of 250,000 fans at Oasis’s Knebworth spectacle in 1996 and how, by returning to its roots in clubs and bars (and even front rooms) with bands such as Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines and The Arctic Monkeys, indie became respectable again.
indie 1980 - 2007
The British Indie scene flourished in Manchest transformed by The Smiths, through Morrissey of a critique of the hard northern working class diverse and contained bands such as The Cocte Chain. By 1986, The Smiths had become one o deal with label EMI had been agreed and they U.S. However, this brought its own pressures a splitting in the summer of 1987.
This split coincided with the rise of house mus indie bands giving the music “a psychedelic tw house and a “west-coast” psychedelic feel, wit and instrumentals crossing into the world of da Ballroom in Blackpool, popularising the new s “Madchester”, containing groups such as Happ made to put out a record based around the Mad sound, however, but their record company’s w
ter in the early 1980s. Manchester was y’s lyrics into a place of epic romance as part s life under Thatcher. The Indie scene was eau Twins, The Fall and The Jesus and Mary of Britain’s most established band’s, a record began to play larger and larger venues in the and eventually this contributed to The Smiths
sic and the development of a new wave of wist”. The Stone Roses, combined indie, th rhythms at the forefront of the music ance. In 1989, they played The Empress scene and led to the media spotlight falling on py Mondays and Inspiral Carpets. Blur were dchester sound; this was not the band’s own wishes.
What the World Is Waiting For In the summer of 1993 Oasis signed to Creation Records and began gigging up and down the country, then moving to London once they had an established fan base. This was perfectly timed as the centre of Indie music had moved from Manchester to London due mainly to the influence of Suede. Suede had an image around dark glamour and sexual ambiguity, being declared the leaders of Britpop. This section is where reductive shades into absurd. Blur’s second and third albums truly launched Britpop, going to the top of the album charts crossing them to mainstream, this was soon followed by Oasis’ debut, creating a scene encompassing groups from Pulp to Elastica. In August 1995, Blur and Oasis had a sales battle for the number one spot with Blur getting to number one just. However, Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? became one of the biggest selling
albums of all time, with them being called the “Voice of a generation”. They sold out football stadiums and indoor arenas making it hard for them to find venues. In early 1996, they organised a festival at Knebworth for 250,000 people to which one in 20 people in the UK applied for tickets. However, this was as big as Indie music was going to get, as many felt they could no longer be truly called Indie. albums of all time, with them being called the “Voice of a generation”. They sold out football stadiums and indoor arenas making it hard for them to find venues. In early 1996, they organised a festival at Knebworth for 250,000 people to which one in 20 people in the UK applied for tickets. However, this was as big as Indie music was going to get, as many felt they could no longer be truly called Indie.