I was about nine or ten and he was 14 or 15. His room was across the hall and he would play his radio and sing along to the Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace" or "Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis. (My brother used to also tie me up in a strait jacket, but that's a whole different story)! I also remember seeing the movie "Rock Around the Clock" starring Bill Hailey and his Comets and kids actually got up out of their seats to dance in the aisles.
I just loved rock and roll from the first time I heard it. I was a huge Elvis fan until the Beatles came along and blew him out of the water.
As I grew up I remember having an epiphany of sorts about rock & roll.
My parents were 40 when I was born, and despite the fact that my Dad was a musician and a huge fan of swing and Dixieland, they just didn't get rock & roll. My sister was nine years older and she didn't get it either. They all thought it was a phase that would pass and music not worth talking about.
But I just knew that rock and roll was here to stay and there was no going back.
I knew it deep inside that once those beats and sounds were unleashed, there was no way they could be squashed down ever again. And I was not alone.
Rock and roll changed a whole generation.
It was the soundtrack of Baby Boomers' lives.
In Junior High (we didn't call it middle school then), we had "Puppy Love"
and danced to "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" and "Louie, Louie."
In high school, we wore madras plaid shirts and pretended we were surfers like The Beach Boys until Motown got our attention followed by the Beatles, Cream, the Rolling Stones and the British Invasion, and we grew our hair long and tarted ourselves up in Edwardian gear.
In college, in the shadow of the Vietnam War, we experimented with sex and drugs with the rock and roll of the Doors, the Moody Blues, the Jefferson Airplane and Janis and Jimi.
As we left college and made our way in the world, it was to the music of Led Zeppelin, Bob Seger, the Eagles, Steve Miller, Hall & Oates, Heart and (sigh)Disco.
In the 1990's New Wave, Grunge, and Punk were followed by Hip Hop, Indie Rock and Emo as we moved into another century.
And here we are.
Remember Mick Jagger saying, "I'd rather be dead than singing 'Satisfaction' when I am 45?" M-m-m-m.
"Never trust anyone over 35." M-m-m-m
"Sixty is the new 40." Well, this one I agree with.
Baby Boomers never thought they would grow old and we have gone kicking and screaming into maturity.
Some of us are retiring. Some of us are not.
And you know what?
Our rock icons are not!
In the last year Hubby and I have attended 11 concerts, all starring musicians in their 60's and 70's.
So Rock and Roll will not only never die,
it doesn't look like it will retire either.
As for me, I may have retired from my career as a librarian, but my career as a "groupie" is still intact. I haven't stopped since I was pulled up on stage to dance with a Moody Blues cover band in college. Even now, if I can get down to the front of the stage, I'm there!
Here's the rundown of this year's concerts:
Bob Seger. Age 68
Sang all of the hits, especially my favorites, "We've Got Tonight" and "Roll Me Away." He looked good, his voice was strong and he played for a full two hours.
Joe Walsh. Age 65
Opened for Bob Seger. His guitar skills are still superb, he is hilarious and skinny as hell and he probably would have played longer if he hadn't been opening for Bob Seger.
Steve Miller. Age 69
I have never forgiven him for a concert in San Francisco in the early 1970's when someone yelled out, "Play Quicksilver Girl," and he sneered, "That was 1968." I thought, what a pompous ass, but he seems to have settled down in his "old age." We saw him in an outdoor venue at a local winery where I am known to get myself down close to the stage.
Groupie moment: I did and I have his guitar pick to prove it. And I never mentioned "Quicksilver Girl."
Robert Plant. Age 65
Still got the chops but can't quite hit those really, really high notes. Might have shown his age a bit as he didn't sing a very long set.
Groupie moment: Got fairly close to the stage after stepping over angry picnickers to get close, but was stopped by a big burly security guy.
Cy Curnin of The Fixx. Age 55 (he's a youngster)
Voice really strong, has kept in great shape.
Must be that huge glass of red wine he kept sipping during the show! (You can see it on the stool behind him in the picture on the right)
Gladys Knight. Age 69
What can I say about Gladys?
Have been a huge fan ever since the Motown years and her songs bring back many memories of love gone right and love gone wrong. That little catch in her voice is so affecting. Watching her perform makes me feel that I am in the presence of greatness - her poise, her self assurance and her vocal skills, which are still intact, make for a great show. Saw her at our favorite outdoor venue - Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery.
Groupie moment: I was in the front row. When Gladys left the stage, I yelled "Gladys, you are fabulous!" She looked back and gave me a thumbs up.
(Eddie Levert Age 71; Walter Williams Age 70; Eric Grant (the new "kid") Age 56
They followed Gladys and put on a fabulous show complete with epaulets on their costumes and classic Motown footwork.
Groupie moment: Eric handed me his sweaty towel.
I think I had a few glasses of wine by this time.
Daryl Hall, Age 66 and John Oates, Age 64.
Have seen them twice. They have their set down. They play their hits and get the hell off the stage, but they are still in great voice and look fabulous. They are one of Hubby's obsessions, but rightly so.
I recommend the very cool show "Live from Daryl's House," where Daryl invites musicians to his house to play their and his tunes, usually followed by cooking up some good food. It started out as an online show and is now on cable (new series starting next year).
Hall & Oates influenced a whole new generation of musicians. So why the hell are they not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
(Hubby made me write that part but I actually agree with him).
Pat Benatar. Age 60
Did you know she originally trained as an opera singer? She has the chops to prove it. She looked and sounded more like she was 40 (because as I said earlier, 60 is the new...)
Ann Wilson Age 63; Nancy Wilson Age 59
Saw them twice, once at an outdoor venue at a State Fair and this year at Seattle's premiere music event Bumbershoot, where they were one of the big acts playing the Key Arena. They were great at the Fair, but at Bumbershoot, they outdid themselves when Jason Bonham played drums with them (he opened for them) and Mike McCready from Pearl Jam came out and they did about five Led Zeppelin tunes.
Ann Wilson can sing Robert Plant better than Robert Plant.
Justin Hayward Age 66; John Lodge Age 68; Graeme Edge Age 72
First saw them in 1971 and here they are 42 years later, a little grayer, a little heavier but, oh, those beautiful tunes. Justin didn't really engage with the audience that much, other than to introduce the songs, but John was pointing and making eye contact.
Groupie moment: John Lodge might have been pointing at me. I'm sticking with that.
Breathe deep the gathering gloom,
Watch lights fade from every room.
Bedsitter people look back and lament,
Another day's useless energy spent.
Impassioned lovers wrestle as one,
Lonely man cries for love and has none.
New mother picks up and suckles her son,
Senior citizens wish they were young.
Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colours from our sight.
Red is grey and yellow white.
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion?
Yes, of course, they included it.
Ginger Baker. Age 74
He is considered one of the greatest drummers of all-time but he seems to be one of the most bitter as well. If you have seen the documentary on him, "Beware of Mr. Baker," you will understand why. And he didn't disappoint.
As he came on stage he told the guy introducing him to "get off the stage." I dub him the curmudgeon of rock and roll, though he's more of a jazz guy now. He had to be helped on stage and played two short sets, but he can still drum.
Groupie Moment: No way. I didn't dare.
Paul McCartney. Age 71
I saved the best for last.
He was the first ever musical act to play Safeco Stadium in Seattle -- and he played for over 3 hours!! He is 71 and never left the stage and sang every song, over 30 of them. It was just amazing. I wrote about my love of the Beatles in my blog "Why the Beatles Matter," where I described how it felt to see Paul 49 years after first seeing the Beatles. He was absolutely amazing and a perfect advertisement for why "Rock & Roll Will Never Die."
So why are these men and women still doing this after all of these years?
One reason could be the money, but I would say it's more because they love what they are doing. Sir Paul certainly does. You couldn't get him off the stage!
And that, folks, is the secret to rocking your retirement.
It's the old expression, "Use it or lose it."
If you are good at something, enjoy something, love something, do it! Never stop.
When I was struggling with the first months of retirement after 40 years of routine, I was given some advice by another blogger - Tamara at "Early Retirement Journey." She recommended the book "The Joy of Not Working" by Ernie J. Zelinski.
In it, he has the reader prepare a "Get-a-Life Tree" where you map out "Options for my Leisure," with the branches labeled "Activities that turn me on now," Activities that turned me on in the past," "New activities I have thought of doing," and "Activities that will get me physically fit." And you must come up with at least 50 different activities.
And I discovered I am a much more interesting person than I thought.
I came up with more than 50 things to do.
I used to love horseback riding and plan to do that again.
I love to cook so I am taking cooking classes.
I want to learn to play the bass guitar.
I love movies so I have added a "movie day" to my new routine instead of just watching DVDs.
And that's just the start.
And I will continue to rock right along with my rock idols.
If they can keep rocking, so can I!
Oh, by the way, did I tell you I have my own rocker right in my own family?
Groupie Moment: It's how it all began!
Groupie Moment: It's how it all began!
(And he is never going to retire. He can't afford to!)
But we will rock it together!
I would love to hear about your
Rock & Roll Moments!
See you Friday for movie and DVD reviews
and other fun stuff!
Thanks for reading!
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(Ginger Baker "Now" photo courtesy of Mike Tiano)