Friday, January 28, 2011

The History Of Rock And Roll

This Saturday (the 29th), WDRV-FM Chicago (The Drive) will be replaying their recent "History Of Rock And Roll" radio special. You can read a little more about what they featured here: Click here: 97.1fm Chicago - The Drive - WDRV ... and, if you click the "Listen Live" link at the top of the page, enjoy this program for yourself all day long on Saturday.

Meanwhile, mention of THIS show sparked some memories of the OTHER "History Of Rock And Roll" syndicated series that ran back in the '70's and '80's ...

Hi Kent ...

A few tidbits on the "HISTORY OF ROCK AND ROLL" from my perspective.
At the time of its inception I was Program Director of CKLW in Detroit (Windsor, Ont.). The late Bill Drake, the RKO Radio consultant, first brought up the idea of the 48-hour rockumentary in the fall of 1968. At the time he was the partner of Gene Chenault and they serviced all of the RKO stations including CK, KFRC, KHJ, WRKO and RKO's station in Memphis. In collaboration with KHJ PD, Ron Jacobs, the script was written by a local, and I believe former, LA Times writer.
All RKO PDs were asked to submit material for the program including interviews with local music mainstays. Being in Detroit, I interviewed several Motown stars for their input including Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Levi Stubbs, etc.
The tapes were then sent to LA for editing and inclusion in the HRR. Each RKO market then received the script and the interview tapes and we each produced our own version locally. The master program which first aired on KHJ was narrated by the late Robert W. Morgan, produced by Ron Jacobs and engineered by the legendary Bill Mouzis. In Detroit we produced our own, utilizing Mark Elliott (afternoon jock then known as Ed Mitchell). Midway through the recording process, however, I was transferred to KFRC, San Francisco, and took approximately 25 hours of tape with me which I had to smuggle under the Detroit River from our Windsor studios. In SF, and I can't recall the reason why, I flew Charlie Van Dyke out from Detroit to finish recording the whole thing (pausing between certain excerpts to record both the KFRC and CKLW call letters which were then spliced out depending on the station. Drake was upset that I'd used two voices for the broadcast. Once completed, the CK tapes were sent back East and the week following the KHJ premier the HRR was aired on the other RKO stations in early February of 1969.
The HRR was aired continuously for 48 hours on the first go-around. It's still hard to believe that so much work went into the show that was only heard between midnight and 6 am. Later broadcasts were aired in anywhere from 1 to 6 hour segments. Extensive promotion for the HRR took place in each market and the ratings were off the chart. If I remember correctly KHJ had nearly a 50 share in LA and KFRC was close behind. Just unbelievable!!! When Drake - Chenault later syndicated the concept around the world, the narrative was voiced by KHJ's "Humble" Harvey Miller. A still-later edition, upped to 50 hours, was voiced by Bill Drake himself.
One of your readers commented about Miller and his later legal problems. Harvey was indeed convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his wife. This occurred while I was later the PD at KHJ and it was a real nightmare.
All in all THE HISTORY OF ROCK AND ROLL was heard by millions around the world including Armed Forces Radio. When years later we aired the show on WTAE here in Pittsburgh where I was VP & GM I remember paying something like $7,500 for the syndication rights. Another huge success.
You might want to query John Rook, the then PD at WLS, about what he went thru to nab the broadcast. A fascinating story if he cares to share it.
Just thought I'd try to clear up any misconceptions regarding one of the great radio broadcasts of all-time, THE HISTORY OF ROCK AND ROLL. It was right up there with "War of the Worlds" only we didn't terrify, we enthralled.
I still have my original script for the program somewhere around here and all the RKO PDs were presented with a huge color litho commemorating our efforts and painted by Tom Jung. I have copy #69 out of 100 produced and it hangs proudly in my rock museum here at home (gold records, photos and a guitar mounted on the ceiling).
Thanks for letting me share and continued good wishes.

Ted Atkins
Pittsburgh, PA

(click photos to enlarge)
Gary Theroux, one of the original co-writers of "The History Of Rock And Roll" has been a frequent Forgotten Hits contributor for several years now. During that time, we've discussed this landmark series a number of times. Here (from The FH Archives) are some of Gary's memories (and a peek at the inside track as to how this amazing series was all put together). (kk)
The very first “rockumentary” ever made was the original “History Of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which was produced in Los Angeles at KHJ in 1969. It featured the voice of DJ Humble Harv and received wide distribution over the next few years. In 1976 I was hired by Bill Drake to revise and update the show – an assignment I entered into with great enthusiasm, and I was familiar with the HRR through WLS' rebroadcast of it in 1970. I remember even running down to Radio Shack and buying a whole case of 7” reels of tape in order to aircheck the entire show. Unfortunately, I fell asleep after recording for 36 hours!
Although I’d been interested in rock and pop history since I’d begun on radio at age 11, the HRR turned my flame into an inferno. I began to extensively research rock history and even put together a 16 week radio series called “The Evolution of Rock” at my college radio station (WGLT).
The first thing I discovered in putting together the update was that the original HRR script suffered from some serious flaws. There were loads of factual errors, which was not surprising. considering the state of rock history at that time. Few historians took rock seriously in the mid-to-late ‘60s and most of the press coverage was on the level of fiction-filled throwaway teen fan magazines (“16,” “Flip,” etc.) Rolling Stone itself had only begun in 1967 and was largely focused on hyping the local San Francisco music scene.
The 1969 HRR suffered from a somewhat chaotic layout and a tendency to make opinionated predictions that turned out to be a bit off the mark. It viewed, for example, The Four Seasons’ then current “Genuine Imitation Life Gazette” LP as a pacesetting achievement, rather than what it really turned out to be – a ill-conceived dud.
I wound up researching, writing and co-producing an entirely different “History of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” retaining but one sequence from the original (the Phil Spector listening test). The entire show was restructured in a modular format, with each hour or half hour built around a single theme. In that way, stations could either run the show from beginning to end or strip it across a week or more (running any number of self-contained hours they wanted).
While some hours spotlit major figures in rock history, most dealt with genres (folk rock, Motown, etc.) or eras. The sequencing was done chronologically and the contents focused on the story from the viewpoint of a fair and balanced reporter – not a critic, who would bend history in order to play up personal favorites and play down the rest. My goal was to have the original artists, writers and producers themselves tell the story in their own words – with only minimal narration (by Bill Drake) to hold the show together and bridge gaps. Fortunately I have interviewed several thousand hitmakers over the years, so that audio was available. The final 52-hour program was released in 1978, ran on some 800 radio stations around the world and won Billboard’s “Top Special Program of the Year” award. To this day, I still get mail about the “The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and various spinoffs.
One is a 2 ½-minute daily feature short-form version. Several hundred evergreen episodes have been produced over the years. Those self-contained donut-formatted features each spotlight three sequential hits by a major hitmaker and interweave music clips, fun facts and revealing artist interviews. Scott Shannon and I have talked about adding the features to his True Oldies Channel mix. We’ll see if that happens. In the meantime, you can read the whole story of the 52-hour HRR on the website.
Gary Theroux

I wondered how one might go about getting a copy of this legendary program ... strictly as a collector and not with the intent to broadcast or resell. I also wondered if, with proper updating, The History Of Rock And Roll couldn't be even more relevant today. Let's face it, many of the artists interviewed for the original series are no longer with us ... their comments, memories and reflections are "frozen in time" so to speak and it'd be impossible to recreate them today. Here are a few more details from Gary (kk):
I have one copy of the 1978 HRR on a set of 52 LPs. The show was primarily distributed to radio stations on vinyl in those pre-CD days, although a few outlets got a dub on quarter-inch audio tape (mainly stations that ran automated programming, on 10” reels. Such tape reels were the primary way Drake - Chenault’s assorted syndicated radio formats were distributed to our 400 or so automated clients.
In those days, automated radio stations had a wall containing six to eight 10” tape decks with a central computer brain and a tape cassette carousel containing commercials, jingles, etc. A song on Deck 1 would run to its end, where a tone (unheard by the listening audience) would trigger Deck 2 to start, etc. The decks would play until a preset time when a commercial cluster would play off the carousel. The last commercial in the cluster would then trigger the next tape deck to begin playing. The system could be locally overridden at any time by a board operator, who could come on live to read the news, etc. His or her main function, though, was to sit there and watch the reels turn. When a reel came to it’s end, he or she would rewind it and replace that tape with another. If you fell asleep and all the tape decks ran out of tape, there’d just be silence on the air until the GM phoned you on the hotline to tell you that you had better wake up and reload the decks. You’d do so, restart the automation and then wait there for the GM to arrive, curse at you and hand you your pink slip.
No copies of the HRR were ever sold – legally. Instead, the show was leased to stations for a certain number of runs or unlimited runs within a certain time frame. After that, the copies were to be returned to Drake - Chenault and most all of them were. The reason the copies could not be sold is that they were licensed for broadcast use only. We did not clear the music for SALE and couldn't. That was because hundreds of tracks were involved, all master recordings (and copyrighted compositions) owned by a cornucopia of labels and music publishers. It would have cost a fortune to clear all that stuff for sale, even if we could, which we could not – because in some cases such licenses were unavailable at any price. You couldn’t get such rights for Beatles tracks, for instance, or Elvis, or a whole host of other acts that had never appeared on compilation albums before. So were dubs of the HRR ever sold anyway?
The answer is yes, but they were all bootlegs. I have been offered copies of the show many times by sellers who had no idea I researched, wrote and co-produced the program. As you might expect, the most heavily bootlegged hour was the last one, #52, with the HRR Timesweep – the longest montage of music ever produced up to that time. It included clips of every #1 hit in order from Dean Martin’s “Memories Are Made Of This” in 1955 to the #1 record the week the show was completed – Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life.” (I think that statement completely debunks Darwin's Theory of Evolution, at least musically.)
The Timesweep came about, by the way, quite by accident. I had planned to spend a half-hour profiling assorted key hits of each year that did not turn up elsewhere and supplementing that with an A and B montage. The B montage would be brief excerpts of other great hits of the year we did not have time to play in full. The A montage would be every #1 hit of that year in order.
The girlfriend of one of my engineers kept complaining to him, “Where ARE you every night? What is it about this History of Rock ‘n’ Roll project that keeps you working each evening?” He explained it was those darn montages that Theroux asked for, and to demonstrate, he ran a dub of the master reel of A montages and took it over to her house to play for her. He started the tape and then went out to pick up a pizza. When he returned, she was sitting, cross-legged in front of her speakers, in tears. “Hey,” he said, “It can’t be that bad.” “No,” she sobbed. “It’s wonderful. But I just heard my entire life pass before my ears.”
When I heard that, I knew how to end The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll. We edited together all the #1 hits montages in sequence and that became the famous closing Timesweep.
I should mention that three versions of the HRR were produced. The original 1969 edition was cut at KHJ in Los Angeles and then syndicated out. It seems hard to believe now, but back then very little serious research had been done on rock music or its history. Rolling Stone was in its infancy and basically covered only current music, just like Teen Beat, Fab or the other “groovy” teen magazines of the era. It was very difficult for the original crew to collect documented facts about rock’s history and had to make the best of what limited research materials were on hand. That’s why the 1969 HRR is so full of errors and misjudgments. Nevertheless, it was groundbreaking for its time – and when WLS in Chicago aired it in 1970, I ran down to Radio Shack and bought a case of tape in order to aircheck the entire 48 hours. Hearing it changed the course of my life. Little did I know that six years later I would be asked to remake the History, which I did, as it turns out, from scratch. Almost nothing from the 1969 show wound up in the 1978 version, except a handful of vintage interviews and the Phil Spector listening test sequence. When I began work on the show in 1976, all I inherited was a shoebox with a few interview tapes in it and the original script. It was only in going over it that I discovered how chaotically organized and full of errors the ’69 show was. I then decided to restructure the HRR into sequential themed modules and both tap my own archives of artist interviews and conduct a host of new ones. I wanted the story of rock to be told, as much as possible, by the writers, producers, musicians and singers who had made the magic happen. Fortunately for me, I also had access to my own immense archive of research data – something no one had assembled and had available in 1969.
The 1978 52-hour HRR aired on more than 800 stations around the world and won Billboard’s “Top Special Program of the Year” award. In the early ‘80s, after I had left Drake - Chenault, new people built what they called the “Silver Anniversary” edition (without specifying what it was the silver anniversary of!). About 75% of that version was a cut-down of my ’78 show, in which, among other things, they reduced the ‘50s to ONE HOUR. Other parts were slashed and burned as well in order to create room for full hours celebrating then currently hot artists – IF THEY ROCKED OR NOT. As an example, they spent an hour on Dionne Warwick, one of the greatest POP singers of all time but never a rocker (as she would tell you herself). And so it went. I had designed the show in modules to make it easier to update, but had never imagined that this kind of hack job would be done. Hearing “The Silver Anniversary Edition” on the air, I winced at every edit – knowing all to well what had been chopped out. Apparently, my disgust with that abomination was shared by the listening public, because “The Silver Anniversary Edition” bombed. The current owners of the longform HRR, Jones Radio, presently syndicate the award-winning ‘78 version – although, of course, it is now woefully out of fate and needs updating. Jones, however, apparently has no plans to do so.
One big problem in making and marketing an HRR today is that it would have to span some 60 years – from the ‘40s (Wynonie Harris’ “Good Rockin’ Tonight”) to today’s hits. How many stations today, even oldies stations, would agree to run something that covers that wide a time span? Especially in an era in which many OLDIES stations don’t even play anything from before 1975? I’d love to produce a new version and have all the materials to do it – and it wouldn’t be all that expensive, either – but it would be a hard sell to commercial radio. What would make more sense would be for XM or Sirius to let me develop a “History of Rock ‘n’ Roll” channel – complete with themed hours, the stories behind the songs, intimate artist interviews, etc. I’ve talked with Scott Shannon about this approach to some extent, as he and I are kindred spirits. His True Oldies format (syndicated on terrestrial radio stations) is terrific in that it plays far more music than your standard, say, Cox Radio oldies format (which beats to death the same oddly chosen 200 tracks). Scott would be good to work with on such a project – or to bolster his True Oldies Channel. And along those lines, his format lends itself perfectly to a daily 2 1/2 minute syndicated version of the HRR, in which fun facts and artist interviews would illuminate the stories behind three sequential hits by a major artist. Such a daily feature version of the HRR already exists; in fact, I have produced more than 200 episodes with another 300 written and ready to be assembled. That approach would especially work on oldies stations that perhaps do not play music of certain stars or decades. As each 2 ½ minute episode is evergreen and self-contained, a station would only run those episodes that fit their programming perimeters. Anyone interested in more information? E-mail me at
So the answers to your questions are yes, you can get a bootleg copy of the 1978 HRR if you search long enough. No, I doubt that an update feature-length HRR will ever be produced, although I have the materials and would love to do write and produce it. Yes, a daily 2 ½ minute version of the HRR IS available for broadcast. And finally, yes, you can actually LEGALLY (apparently) buy a copy of HIGHLIGHTS from the 1969 HRR from Bill Mouzis, who engineered the KHJ version and also helped me with the 1978 remake. Below is a press release he sent me just the other day:
The original 93 KHJ History of Rock and Roll, the very first-ever radio "Rockumentary", was conceived by Bill Drake, former radio consultant to RKO General Inc. This 48 hour special is presently archived in The Library Of Congress in Washington D.C., The Lincoln Center For The Performing Arts in New York, The Julliard School Of Music in New York and the University of California in Los Angeles, California.
Against this backdrop I am pleased to announce that the highlights of this spectacular achievement can now be yours. I have isolated, compiled and processed close to two and one half hours of these highlighted segments as they were actually heard on Boss Radio 93 KHJ in February, 1969. This monumental Special was produced by Ron Jacobs, written by Pete Johnson, narrated by Robert W. Morgan with production engineering by Bill Mouzis. I have also completed putting together two highlight reels, actually CDs, which will form the nucleus for this limited special edition 2 CD Set. It contains twenty seven (27) unaltered highlights of the original show. Having been digitally re-mastered they include classically produced music montages, outstanding commentary by the inimitable Robert W. Morgan, comments by the stars, their songs and their history - a taste of honey for sure.
In a very personal but public way I have undertaken this endeavor to honor Mr. Morgan's memory and to dedicate this effort to that memory. He not only was my friend but my soulmate in our longstanding working relationship at KHJ. Working under the guidance of the very talented Ron Jacobs, in doing all of the production for 93 KHJ and the entire RKO General chain of stations for five years, there was never a "strassman" of disagreement among us in producing some of the greatest 93 KHJ Boss Radio on-air promos of all-time.
It is now my distinct honor and pleasure to announce that for the very first time this original material will be available to the general public. For the nominal price of $39.95, plus tax and shipping, a 2 CD Set can be purchased containing close to two and one half hours of air-checked archive material with appropriate notes included. The meticulous art work involved in completing the Set is in itself well worth the price and conjures up the times we lived in - a classic memento for a very special time in the annals of radio.
Profits derived from the sale of this highlight package will go to charitable causes, including The Robert W. Morgan Cancer Awareness Fund and for Ron Jacobs and The Association for the Preservation of Hawaiiana Online.
The scheduled date for release is May 22, 2007, the ninth anniversary of Mr. Morgan's untimely passing.
Bill Mouzis can be reached at:
Gary Theroux
Updating "The History Of Rock And Roll" would be a HUGE undertaking ... but well worth the effort in my opinion ... think about it ... if the dawn of The Rock Era was 1955, at the time the series first aired in 1969 Rock And Roll Music was only 14 years old! (Even if you budget in another five years of early "race music" / "rock roots" as the "Pre-Rock" Era that led up to what we now call Rock And Roll, you're still talking about a history of less than 20 years.)
By the time the 1978 re-boot aired, rock had aged another nine years, bringing the scope of this project to just under 30 years. That means there's another 33 years of rock music and trends that has happened SINCE this series last commercially aired.
Think about that for a second ... in 1978, Disco Music was just a year or two away from taking its last lap around the music court. As Gary told us, Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" was #1 for God's sake!!! And for TEN WEEKS no less!!! Think about the music evolution that has happened since!
Bruce Springsteen ... Michael Jackson (at the time the 1969 series aired, The Jackson Five hadn't even hit the charts yet! By the time the 1978 edition aired, most music fans would have categorized the brothers in the "Remember how great The Jackson Five used to be" category ... who could have EVER predicted that young Michael would go on to re-invent himself and become the biggest star on the planet!!!) ... the punk and new wave scene of the '80's ... grunge ... the death of John Lennon ... the return of The Monkees and the whole Milli Vanelli fiasco ... Madonna ... M-TV ... HUGE rock charity benefits like USA For Africa and Live Aid ... rap and hip-hop ... U2 ... Prince ... big country cross-over acts like Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers and Alabama ... and a whole new wave of teeny-bopper stars like Britney Spears, N*Sync and Justin Bieber ... Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey ... the "Glee" and "American Idol" phenomena ... Eminem ... and SO much more.
When I say that we have all lived through this music, that doesn't mean we've liked it all ... we ALL have our individual tastes ... but, like it or not, we've all still experienced it, for better or for worse ... and it's part of who we are ... making a comprehensive History Of Rock And Roll update certainly in order. (And most likely will be again 20 years from now when many of us are dead and gone.) This crazy new teenage fad that was NEVER supposed to last back in 1955 - 1956 just keeps on growing and evolving ... and it will continue to do so. But will radio take the time to develop and air such a special?
Not the way it's set up now, it won't ... all of these so-called fads covered in the spectrum of a program this large have since been segregated on the radio dial ... today, a radio station that will play this, WON'T play that ... despite the fact that ALL of this music co-existed at the time.
This is why we keep pushing for the "Music Of The Ages" format ... what a PERFECT way to launch a radio format like that ... that encompasses ALL phases of music, exactly as we were exposed to it. Even an outlet like XM / Sirius (probably the most likely and ideal place to take on a challenge of this proportion) would most likely end up breaking this up into their various "Decades" channels ... after the '50's segment aired, you'd have to switch over to The '60's Channel to pick up the next segment ... and so on throughout the '70's, '80's, '90's and beyond ... not an incomprehensable request, I suppose ... I know that I would do it ... but it defeats the whole concept of The Evolution Of Rock ... speaking of which ... THAT was a wildly successful syndicated series, too, back in the day.
Produced first for CHUM Radio out of Canada, there was a near head-to-head battle between The Evolution of Rock and The History Of Rock And Roll ... and clearly NO love lost between the two. Read on! (kk)

Here's a letter we received from FH Reader Warren Cosfield, who covered the CHUM Evolution of Rock when it aired again a few years ago:

Hi Kent:
Thanks for asking.
Here's an article I wrote a few years ago on 440 Satisfaction 1976.
CHUM has produced The Story Of The Beatles (12 hours - 1970), The Top 100 Of The Year (1971 - 1974) ... you may have heard it on the RKO stations ... The Elvis Presley Story (12 hours - 1975). It’s time to get ambitious. We decide to produce The Evolution of Rock.We estimate it’ll be about 60 hours. We were really dumb.
CHUM Program Director, J. Robert Wood thought that the reason for producing these kind of programs was to increase ratings. He was right, short term, but long term …… in syndication, charging stations cash for the rights to air the shows was not the way to go. Norm Pattiz later figured it out. Give it away and take the airtime the stations will give you. Sell it to people who had money that wanted to buy time to reach 18-34s efficiently. Advertisers! Norm figured out the "business". We figured out the "art".
The Evolution Of Rock is still "out there" somewhere. KODJ ran it in L.A. in the early 90’s to debut their Oldies format. I used to air portions of it on CKLW holiday weekends. Check it out. The Production holds up ok, but the writing is outstanding. In fact, it’s amazing. It’s the best example of "writing for the ear" I’ve ever heard. The writer was Bill McDonald, a Canadian from Winnipeg. Eat your heart out, Bill Drake.
The Evolution Of Rock became a 64 hour Radio Documentary. It debuted on CHUM, WTAE, WIBG and WIBC almost simultaneously. I still get calls about it today. I’ll never produce anything better. So I’ve stopped producing. The other producers on the show were Bob McMillan and Zeke Zdebiak.
Chuck Riley didn’t want to voice the show. Money convinced him. At the time he was King Of The Hill, doing afternoon drive in Indianapolis at WIBC for Jim Hilliard and George Johns. He’d met them both in Winnipeg in 1964. Along with Neil Young and Burton Cummings ….. but that’s another story.
For six months, every other weekend in 1976, I would fly to Indianapolis to record Chuck Riley. The engineer was often Howard Schrott, who later became comptroller for Emmis. Working with Riley was a pain. He said didn’t believe in the project. He just wanted his money.
After we had finished the show, and it had won Billboard Magazine’s International Documentary Of The Year Award, Chuck Riley called me in Toronto. He had heard the program on WLS Chicago. He didn’t think that the studio announcer was doing a very good job of introducing the commercials. Chuck asked me if I knew the Program Director of WLS. I did. It was John Gehron. Chuck said ….. "for a peanut butter sandwich and a bus ticket, I’ll go to Chicago and do the IDs the way they should be done. I never called Gehron. Riley was full of shit. A few months later Chuck Riley called from Los Angeles. He was on a holiday. By then, the writer of The Evolution Of The Evolution of Rock, Bill McDonald, had gone to work for Chuck Blore and Don Richmond in L.A. Riley wondered if I would ask Bill if he would ask Blore to listen to his demo tape. Blore listened and tore it apart ….. but a few weeks later BillMcDonald called me in Toronto looking for Riley’s telephone number. ABC-TV were looking for a backup for Ernie Anderson. Chuck Blore recommended Chuck Riley. Riley got the job. Chuck Riley became the voice of CBS-TV, Emmis Radio and a lot of Movie Trailers. It all started with The Evolution Of Rock. Chuck died 5/10/07
Warren Cosford

The CHUM - produced program "The Evolution of Rock" was produced in 1976 - 77 and was aired by dozens of stations in the USA. It was supposedly aired in each of the Top 100 markets in the USA, plus all across Canada, OZ, and NZ. I didn't know until today that CHUM is re-airing the show right now, over 30 years later. An hour segment each day.
Here's some background on the show, straight from the CHUM website.
There's more good info worth reading here:
CHUM had a history of producing Rock Documentaries ("Rockumentaries").
CHUM produced the 28-hour History of Rock, a 10-hour Story of Elvis, a 12-hour Story of the Beatles, and the year-end top 100 featuring interviews with the artists and newsmakers of the year. Philly listeners may remember that WIBG played the entire 64-hour program immediately prior to switching to a talk format in '77. The narrator, radio great Chuck Riley, passed away earlier this year. Whether or not one considers Paul Revere and The Raiders a lightweight pop act, they did trade heavily on the teenybopper appeal of Mark Lindsay. The group also differentiated themselves with their costumes and their on-stage antics, which probably inspired other rock acts that became known for their on-stage deportment. Their music stands the test of time, and is largely ignored today.
David Lewis
"The History Of Rock And Roll"'s Gary Theroux is clearly not a fan of "The Evolution Of Rock" series ... even all these years later, these feelings continue to run pretty deep ...

Regarding XM ... and the fact that I could do a lot more for XM than remake and update “The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll” ... the fact is that XM is one of the few places left where such a program would be possible. The 1978 HRR covered about 30 years of music history (1948 - 78), while an updated version would be required to cover 60 (1948 - 2008)! No terrestrial radio station, except a noncommercial educational outlet, spans that wide a time period – while an XM or Sirius could.
As for 'The Evolution Of Rock', you should know that we spent several years developing and producing the 52-hour “History of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” During that period, we got word that CHUM – very much aware of what we were doing – had decided to hastily throw together their own radio special to compete with us. I didn’t know much about their writer-producer, Rolling Stone contributor Ritchie Yorke, but was concerned when it was made clear that CHUM, in their determination to steal our thunder, was speeding through production in order to beat us to the starting gate. This was distressing, but as I explained to our crew, I was not interested in compromising quality to take part in any kind of race. We were going to put in as much time as we felt was needed to turn out the very best “History of Rock ‘n’ Roll” possible.
Indeed, CHUM did launch “The Evolution of Rock” just before our “History” was completed. Knowing I was worried, a friend in Canada sent me a 90-minute aircheck of “The Evolution” so I could hear just what we’d be up against. I remember vividly putting it on the tape deck, sitting back and reading the note my friend had attached to the reel. It said, “This sucks.” It didn’t take long for me to realize how accurate that assessment was.
“The Evolution of Rock” was a textbook example of how NOT to put a radio special together. It was chaotically programmed, loaded with errors and heavily opinionated. Rather than telling it the way it was, the contents skewed history to both overstate the importance of the writer’s personal favorites while disparaging everything else. His opinions formed the backbone of the show, rather than genuine in-depth research and objective understanding of the material. This approach was the polar opposite of the one I took in building “The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Rather than coming on like a self-important critic, I tackled my subject as an unbiased investigative reporter. That’s why, as much as possible, I let the original artists, writers and producers tell their own stories and only used narration as a bridging device. If a value judgment was called for, I turned to the only critics who counted – the public – who voted for the songs, stars and musical scenes that spoke for them by buying copies, attending concerts or requesting their play on the radio.
“The Evolution of Rock” proved to be no threat to “The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” It didn’t take long for industry word of mouth to sink it long before “The History” was released a short time later. Although I still have that Canadian aircheck, I myself had completely forgotten about “The Evolution of Rock” until it dawned on me where that clip you ran on “Indian Reservation” came from. (By the way, as that hit was recorded for release as a Mark Lindsay single, I would have asked Mark about it – not Paul Revere, whom, as I recall, was not even at the session.) As for “The History of Rock n’ Roll,” it went on to win Billboard’s “Top Special Program of the Year” award and air on more than 800 stations around the world.
The 52-hour, 1978 “History of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” last I heard, is currently owned by Jones Radio. I own the 2 ½ minute daily feature version, which interweaves fun facts and revealing interview clips with three successive hits by a given artist.
Gary Theroux

Whew! The controversy will never end ... but with BOTH of these programs now long unavailable, I believe that we are poised for something new.

What The Drive put together on their own certainly serves the purpose of satisfying their listening audience. While it may be the "condensed" version of such a history (designed to air in a single day and capture the highlights and major market trends), it certainly helps to whet the appetite for something more comprehensive. I'll be listening again this Saturday simply because it's something different ... and the whole idea intrigues me. If either The Evolution Of Rock or The History Of Rock And Roll aired again ... even in its original format ... I'd listen again just to hear what was covered and considered important at the time which, in hindsight, is really the early stages of rock and roll development.
Honestly, the idea of running a 52 hour continuous series was never a practical one ... NOBODY could possibly listen to the whole thing all the way through. (Even Gary Theroux fell asleep trying to tape the WLS airing after 36 hours ... and there is no bigger fan on the planet ... with a greater vested interest ... than Gary!!!)
If the 30 year history took 52 hours, updating this would certainly take twice that ... like I said, a HUGE undertaking. And, quite honestly, some reworking of the original tapes would also have to be done, if only to capitalize on the benefit of 33 years of hindsight.
I say expand it even further ... make it 150 hours long ... and then air it in three hour segments on the weekend ... maybe once on Saturday with a repeat on Sunday ... so that the millions of music fans out there who would flock to listen to a program like this can listen to it and absorb it in a practical fashion. (Ahh ... there he goes again ... with that whole "appointment radio" concept!!!)
Certainly the impact of The British Invasion or Motown ... or spotlight artists like Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and Michael Jackson ... cannot truly be captured in a single hour ... expand the whole thing to better encompass the scope of all that's gone down musically these past 60+ years.
I'd love to be in on the outline for this ... although I'll be the first to admit that I might have a tough time "objectively" writing a good deal of it. (There are probably a couple of chapters I could probably handle, however!!!) Finding the right "voice" to present it is a key element, too (although I kinda like the idea of different jocks covering different chapters and experts, especially if they can lend a certain credibility to that particular area of rock history.)

Yes, the idea of a brand new series is a VERY exciting concept. Hopefully, this will not be the end of this discussion. If the right people got together and pooled their resources of vintage interviews and airchecks, an absolutely AMAZING Tribute To Rock could be created. It'll still never please everybody ... but man, what a fun listen that would be!!! (kk)