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FOWLER'S FLIX 09.28.18: Rock and Roll is Here to Die

Photo by Richard Auger
US Festival 1982.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Many folks like to repeat, ad nauseum, that rock and roll is here to stay.

As I scan the charts, walk through my record store, or catch an episode of Catfish on MTV, I think it’s finally safe to say that rock and roll is here to die. It lived a long full-life, with plenty of ups and downs that anyone would have rightfully cherished. But if not dead, then it’s definitely dying, begging to be put out of its misery.

One of the great misnomers of the times was Rolling Stone magazine.

Sure, it might be bird-cage liner these days, but 50 years ago it was the quintessential guide to a newly minted culture that was starting to define was cool is and what hip was. In the documentary Rolling Stone: 50 Years of Defining Culture (Shout! Factory), hosts Johnny Depp and Jeff Daniels take us through a rock and roll kaleidoscope featuring archival interviews with everyone from John Lennon to Bob Dylan, showing what rock culture once was, probably never to return again.

From the eyes of the magazine that once mattered, this interesting enough doc showed just how much it helped change culture so deeply, but besides all that, it’s really the performances that are killer: the Rolling Stones, the Sex Pistols, the Clash and so on make it worth the purchase price alone. Just get the current incarnation of the mag out of your head and, sadly, remember what it once was and what a gift it was at the time.

Perhaps one of the last dying gasps of that era came from Steve Wozniak and the Apple team when they organized the mostly maligned 1982 US Festival, documented in the not-surprisingly titled The US Festival: The US Generation (MVD Visual). From the great—Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Ramones, Talking Heads—to the no-so-great—Pat Benatar, Santana, Jimmy Buffett—this film captures the highs and lows of the money-losing rock spectacle.

Still, it was a power-packed line-up for the most part, one that really wasn’t seen again until festivals like Coachella came along, minus so much of the crass commercialism and, well, horrible music.

Director Glenn Aveni has a deep reverence for the event—probably more than he should—and has a lot of great interviews with not only the stars on stage, but the people behind the scenes are well. Once you hear them talk about the hope they had for concert, it becomes inspiring, but I guess hope doesn’t pay the bills and the US Festival is dust in the wind, dude.

I’d guess though the first place (and last place, really) to go for a rock spectacle these days is down in Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And even though, due to their exorbitant prices and mile-long ticket-list, most of us will never get to see one of their induction shows live, if you’re so inclined check out The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert Encore (Time-Life). Featuring highlights from the 2010 through 2013 induction ceremonies, this is probably the closest we’re ever going to come. Is it worth it?

Featuring some notable performances from the likes of Rush, the Red Hot Chili Peppers with a little help from Slash and Ron Wood and, perhaps my favorite cut, Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie going ballistic on “School’s Out.” It’s great to actually see these once in a lifetime performances live and uncut, although I wish there was some solo Beatles on here, but, then again, we’ve got the Beastie Boys, so who’s to argue?

So yeah, I guess rock and roll ain’t dead yet. But its pulse is falling fast and we’re gonna need some CPR in here. Some powerful rock and roll CPR, son.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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