Raised on the Radio

Because growing up on 70s television didn't kill me. It just made me who I am today.


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Baby Boomers Music

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Baby Boomers are egotistical asses, especially when it comes to music!

 

I should know.  I’m a Baby Boomer.

 

You have to remember, most Baby Boomers have followed music from its early days.  Say, a Baby Boomer, born in 1954, will remember songs from the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, The Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly, to name just a few.  This was the foundation of Rock & Roll.  This is also our foundation from which we build.

 

We’ve been through the challenges of life throughout history. First, just listening to Rock in the early years put us in dangerous territory with the church. Supposedly, music that made you shake your hips and jump around was “Devil Music”. Yeah, you should have been there convincing your parents it wasn’t.

 

Jerry Lee Lewis (Whole Lotta Shakin’)

 

The Beatles also made it easy for us. Why? Because immediately, guys wanted to start wearing their hair long. The Hell with the “Burr” and “Flat-Top” haircuts, we wanted it to grow and grow long. You should have been there telling that to your high school basketball coach. Talk about setting yourself up for running gut drills after regular practice for the rest of the week. Why? Because we were going against the norm of the day. We were showing the adults that we didn’t have to follow the same rules they had. Times were changing and we were, too. Long hair showed what side we were on.

 

The Cowsills (Hair)

 

We were also there for the Civil Rights movement. We fought for all to be treated the same and have the same opportunities regardless of race or sex. Talk about putting yourself in the firing line! When I talk about protesting and marching in the late 60’s in Indiana, people say, “Well, that wasn’t much. The South was where the violence was at.” Then I kindly remind them that the national headquarters of the KKK was in Indiana. Yeah, the Midwest had its share of screwed up attitudes, too. It just wasn’t picked up by the news agencies as much.

 

Temptations (Ball of Confusion)

 

The Vietnam War hit everyone. However, it was the first war where the average age of a combat soldier was only 19 years old. Kids were being sent to kill an enemy under the guise of Communism needs to be stopped. It didn’t take long for us to see that it wasn’t communism as our primary enemy, but the politicians that were using the war to create a profitable economy for their constituents that owned war machine factories. Protest after protest, kids leaving the United States and living abroad, and the rich filling the pockets of Congressmen to keep their kids from going to an early death were facts of life for the youth of the day.

 

Country Joe & The Fish (I Think I’m Fixin To Die Rag)

 

As we expanded our attitudes, we sought means to expand our minds. Marijuana, although scorned for years by the white population as a drug that destroys all will to succeed, became a drug of choice, and one that got many a person years in jail. LSD (acid, Mr. Love Saves, etc.) joined the field as a leader in allowing one to see beyond. Different strengths and compounds had varying effects on those who indulged. Most of the time, we simply enjoyed the trip. Of course, various pharmaceuticals also become common as downers and speed helped us through the madness, or maybe, even added to the madness.

 

Jefferson Airplane (White Rabbit)

 

Finally, ignoring our parents uptight feelings about sex, we made it happen. Free Sex meant that if you found someone you cared about, and they found you cool, too, there was no reason why you had to be married to get together and experience the beauty. Our parents knew this, but hid it because of the morality of the times. Oh, they had “affairs”, but they didn’t want everyone to know. Sex was a “dirty” topic that parents often only brought up too late. You learned about it from your friend’s fathers Playboy collection when they weren’t home. We wanted love, and sex was a part of that.

 

Mercy (Love Can Make You Happy)

 

Yeah, we were fighters. No matter what we wanted, it seemed society was against it in one way or another. But, we didn’t give up. We fought each battle and moved forward. Music was our partner. Regardless of the battle, it seemed as though there was a song that fit the time. We were unified, pacified, and verified by the music we listened to and believed in.

 

And now, we’re just like our parents were.

 

But, we’re still assholes with attitude!

Steppenwolf (Born To Be Wild)

 

About the Author:

Having grown up during the 50′s & 60′s, Rich was a personal witness to the confusion of the times. His love of music drew him into the conflicts of the day as he protested many of the atrocities in civil rights and an overseas war. Ironically, military service, during the final days of the Vietnam Conflict, ended a music career in a successful band. However, his love of music held true as he later chose a career as a radio announcer over law school. Here, along with being able to play the music he cherished, he interviewed many top music acts. This allowed him to gain much knowledge of the recording industry and the psyche of music artists in rock, jazz and R&B. Later, his love of performing transformed him into a career in stand-up comedy. Twenty years later, his love for music continues. Quote: “Being born in 1954, Rock ‘N Roll and I have grown up together. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!”

Keep up with him at That’s Life…Sometimes!


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I Love Chicago, I’m Old, and The Best Night of Funky R&B Ever.

Age does funny things to you.

The one I think we are least likely to understand when we are young is the resistance to change.

Of course I know this to be true because I am a child of sitcoms. And each sitcom has at least one episode about the adults not “getting it.” Whatever “it” may be.

So while I am not happy that the world is moving so fast, and technology has caused us to lose an important part of our humanness by making communication impersonal and brisk. I am also increasingly disturbed by the lack of creativity found in popular movies and film.

While the former is a perfect illustration of my statement. The latter, I actually think, is a statement of truth.

So in my desire to not subject myself to constant disappointment, I spend much of my time listening to hand-picked music from generations past.

Which brings me to my point.

I love Chicago.

No, I don’t have ADD.

Two weeks ago we went out for my Brother-in-law’s birthday. He loves the city.

I loved the city in my 20’s. Now I’m old.

But for him, I would happily go into the city. Also, his new-found fame as Chicago’s premier roof-top designer has opened doors to some of the hottest restaurants – the kind with month-long waiting lists. Who was I to say no to a dinner with all the shi-shis?

Dinner was……interesting. The menu may have been written in Latin. The food? Let’s just say it was a little to “creative” for me.

But the atmosphere? Well…that was something else. This place is the see and be seen spot of Chicago, and let me tell you – the people watching was spectacular.

But frankly, when dinner was done, I figured we were going home because, did I mention I was old?

But my brother-in-law had other ideas.

“You know we are right around the corner from The Back Room.” He looked right at me.

He knew back in the day, hanging out at a jazz club was just my thing. He was goading me.

But we were old, and we had finished our shi-shi dinner at 8pm and The Back Room didn’t open until 9.

I shook my head and said, “The babysitter wasn’t expecting us to be out too late.”

Of course my brother-in-law scoffed, I knew I was being lame – I had no choice but to cave.

I got on my phone and saw that Avain Hightower and Full Circle were playing. Well Avain Hightower was the original keyboardist for The Chi-lites and had played with everyone in my R&B Hall of Fame. My excitement was piqued.

We were the first ones there. Because we’re old.

But that was perfect because we didn’t have reservations, which meant first come first serve. And we were first come, so we got awesome seats.

The Back Room is considered a Showcase Lounge, it is small. Really small. There isn’t a bad seat in the house because the house capacity is 150 if it’s 200. The waitresses were friendly, the crowd was happy, and the show started on time. 3 for 3.

Was I in for the time of my middle-aged life! Avain Hightower is just as much the high-energy showman as he was over 25 years ago. The band was HOT. They jumped right in and didn’t stop for over an hour.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m watching good live music I can’t stop smiling. They played everything from P-Funk to Michael Jackson to Pharell and back again. And they did every single song justice. I could not stop moving and I gotta tell you that by the time the first set was over my face hurt, my voice was going, and I was ready for more.

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When they took a break we had the chance to hang with the drummer for a short few. My brother-in-law had bought him a drink at the bar, and he wanted to come over and meet us. I have never met a happier, more humble drummer. I have often used the term “drummer’s complex” you know, being in the back all the time doesn’t always work for a star. Nope, not this guy. He was as genuine as they come, couldn’t believe we thought he was great.

Our original plan was to leave after the first set, but we couldn’t. Babysitter be damned.

I did my best to keep track of the set-list so I could recreate it in the form of a playlist on my iTunes. I will share it with you, so you can enjoy the eclectic mix of music that made up this unexpectedly electrifying evening.

Let’s Groove

Brick House

Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough

Flash Light

Happy

Spanish Harlem

Got to Give it Up

Groove Me

Proud Mary

Blurred Lines

Calypso Frelimo

 

And believe it or not, it was 100 times better than even that.

Go to this link to see a live clip of them from the local TV station the day before I saw them.

 

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