The first chapters of my book (blatant plug), "Don Perry Produced The Music: My Journey Through The Golden Years Of Rock And Roll" recount my "eye witness" account of the birth of rock and roll. This incredible movement that merged pop, country and rhythm and blues, held court from the '50s to the '80s. It evolved from a "novelty" to mainstream and produced legendary acts that changed the face of music forever. Somewhere in the late '80s and into the '90s movements such as : new wave, synth pop, hip hop and rap took over. Today's contemporary acts are heavily influenced by rap.
We probably didn't notice the decline of rock in our new Pandora, Sirius, Apple era because we can now program any music or act that we want to hear. But where are the new rock stars? According to Aerosmith's Steven Tyler in a recent article by Jim Harrington in the San Jose Mercury, "There really isn't rock. Dave Grohl's trying his hardest to keep it alive, but there's no format and no one is playing it." Tyler believes country is the new rock and roll and is releasing his first country album, "We're All Somebody From Somewhere" on. Tyler's been in Nashville for a year and a half and recently bought a home there. He quickly fell under Music City's spell. "I mean the vibe here in Nashville is ridiculous. The passion, the soul. There's still a big soul beating here, whereas in other places, it's kind of dead because business took over."
I wondered if Tyler is right. Is there a big new rock star out there that I've missed by listening to the old classic rock in my car? Are there rock stations or are they all relegated to "oldies"? To get a clue, I looked at the top 20 touring acts of the decade according to Billboard Magazine. Surely in the top 10 there would be a new face.
Here's the breakdown: The Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger once famously said the Stones wouldn't be playing rock when they were forty), U2, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Celine Dion, Dave Mathews Band, Kenny Chesney, Bon Jovi, and Billy Joel.
No better luck from 11-20: The Police, The Eagles, Tim McGraw, Aerosmith, Neil Diamond, Cher, Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, Metallica and Rascal Flatts. Three of the most current acts: Chesney, McGraw and Rascal Flatts...all country.
Maybe Tyler is right. But wouldn't it be ironic if somebody new came along and put country, R&B and pop together and called it rock and roll?