Tuesday, February 8, 2011

More Comments on "The History of Rock And Roll" and "The Evolution Of Rock"

Hot topics of late, to be sure ... we're still getting mail on these two landmark radio series. Check it out:

Only at FH could music fans be treated to the kind of "inside story" we received today! It's great to hear from so many guys who were directly involved in creating these documentaries.
The version of The History of Rock and Roll that I remember most was Gary's 1978 program. I listened to the first version in the late 60s but haven't seen or heard any of it since then. My high school history teacher had a HRR poster on one of his bulletin boards for several months in the winter of '69 - '70. (Why do I remember that?) He (the teacher) died just a few weeks ago.
I wish I had a copy of the original HRR to compare to Gary's later project. I suppose Gary has asked Bill Mouzis, the original engineer, if has a copy. It's been 40 years and I wasn't listening as closely then as now.I have listened closely to every minute of EOR and the 1978 HRR within the past couple of years, and I like them both. The audio quality is indeed better on the Drake product, but the organization of the content is so different on the two programs that it's not possible to actually rate them against one another. Riley's delivery does have more energy, and it would have been great if he hadn't mispronounced so many words in the copy.The EOR promo included in today's FH is worth hanging onto; I didn't have it with my LP-to-tape-to-mp3 copy of the program.

David Lewis
I'd love to hear them both, too ... not so much to "judge" them but rather to simply experience the whole enchilada as it was originally envisioned. My guess is that there's enough good material on BOTH series to kick off a brand new, updated version. (kk)

>>>Without question, a COMPLETE History Of Rock And Roll should encompass ALL of this as well as trace its roots even further ... but the truth of the matter is (especially since this will ultimately be the first chapter), you'll LOSE your audience if you feed them too much unfamiliar material. My guess is that if this "education" is presented properly, it will inspire more folks to go back and seek out some of these early examples on their own. (kk)
I agree. If we could tie in early, unfamiliar material directly to material / artists they know, it would work.
For example, whenever I see a kid wearing a Zeppelin shirt, I always ask him / her if they're into the blues, and, regardless of their answer, I always mention blues classics that Zeppelin reworked to fit their style. Most people, no matter how much they love Zeppelin, think that Page, Plant, Bonham, and Jones wrote "Whole Lotta Love," "Nobody's Fault But Mine," "When The Levee Breaks," etc. Without fail, they're absolutely amazed that they didn't.Also, and I meant to include this in my earlier comments, I can't argue with someone who feels that rock began in the 1940's with R&B greats Louis Jordan (who played in drummer Chick Webb's band in the '30's, playing alongside Ella Fitzgerald in that band before forming his own band, The Tympani Five, in 1938), Cecil Gant, Roy Brown, Wynonie Harris, etc. That viewpoint makes complete sense to me. I love '40's R&B. To that end, I highly recommend the book 'Unsung Heroes Of Rock 'n' Roll: The Birth of Rock In The Wild Years Before Elvis' by Nick Tosches, who is easily my favorite music writer.

>>>Doug Thompson has been a FH Reader for a few years now and has been a staunch supporter of our efforts ... and regularly sends me notes to tell me that he's "still reading"!!! (lol) I love it! (kk)
And I'm STILL reading, Kent, (and enjoying).
The final point (from me anyway) is that Gary Theroux did a magnificent job with the version of the 'History of Rock and Roll' that he worked on and the CHUM team did a magnificent job on the 'Evolution of Rock' ... although, as I said in my note to Warren, it's like comparing different brands of apples. They're the same species, but different tastes.
I worked with all of the people involved in CHUM's Evolution of Rock (Writer Bill McDonald and I were partners in a creative commercial company here in Canada for six years that won over 50 mostly American creative awards, before Chuck Blore whisked Bill out to LA to work for him in 1978) and all three of the EOR producers (Warren Cosford, Bob McMillan and Zeke Zdebiak) are, or were, incredible producers. Unfortunately Zeke died in 2002; Bob's totally out of the radio business now and Warren's currently living in the Centre of the Universe (inside joke) and has a large, ever expanding group of both radio and non radio people who are on his e-mail 'list'.
Both programs won awards. And rightly so. They deserved to win.
I've produced over 1000 hours of radio programming since I began in radio in 1965 and won my share of awards as well (151 so far). These kinds of programs take a helluva lot of work to put together. In 1981, NBC's The Source, hired me to write and produce a 3 hour special on John Lennon. It ran on Source stations in the U.S. and on 65 private radio stations here in Canada. That program took close to 6 months from start to finish (interviewing, editing, writing and producing). The last special I created on John Lennon in 2005, took me nearly 3 months (I'd done most of the interviews over the years) and that special (which ran in the U.S. through Westwood One and throughout Canada) won a Silver Medal, a Gold Medal and one of only 4 Grand Awards at the 2006 New York Radio Festival. Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills & fame) narrated, and he did an incredible job. Anyone producing a history of rock today couldn't do any better than hiring Graham Nash to narrate.
I appreciate Gary's Theroux point of view as I do Warren Cosford's. But Gary didn't work on the 'Evolution of Rock' and Warren didn't work on the 'History of Rock' so obviously they're going to prefer the program that they were involved with. I've never met Gary, but I have tremendous respect for his body of work. I've worked with Warren and despite that, still respect his body of work (inside joke # 2).
Both Gary and Warren should be (and are) rightly proud of what they accomplished, but short of getting these two in a boxing ring to 'duke it out', they're never going to agree.
I bought the 'History of Rock' 2 CD set with samples of the original HRR with Robert W. Morgan narrating (the one Ron Jacobs directed) and I love it. I've also heard the full version of that original KHJ HRR special and love that. I've also heard every hour of Gary's HRR version and love that as well. I also love the EOR. Why does one program have to be better than the other?
They're both exceptional radio programming and deserve to stand stand by side on any podium.
Gary, Warren, and all the creative people associated with both programs - take your bows. It's a job EXCEPTIONALLY well done.
Doug Thompson (aka Doug in Aurora)
Well said, Doug ... and you're absolutely right ... EVERYBODY involved in BOTH of these projects should be proud of what they accomplished. Remember, ALL parties concerned were paving the way with a program of this magnitude ... and, using the resources available to them at the time, did a hell of a job putting these radio specials together. That being said, it really is time to update this series ... another 35 years have passed and SO much has happened. Wouldn't it be cool to have some of these folks who've got some of this under their belts already pool their efforts and pick up the gauntlet once again? An updated series like this would be SUCH a welcome relief from most of what we're being force-fed on oldies radio today! (kk)