Contrary to what you may have heard the 60’s didn’t die at Altamont. Author Michael Walker makes a very strong argument that the 60’s died in 1973, when the music industry changed, concerts became events, money became gross profit, technology made the impossible possible, groupies were organized, and rock and roll excesses became even more excessive. ’73 was also the year three bands—Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin and The Who embarked on three American tours that came to symbolize all the above mentioned and more. It was a turning point, a milestone in music that defined the next generation of music consumers. The hippie counter-culture revolution was over; the new generation would be exposed to what many consider to be the golden age of rock.
Undisputedly, the most important event in the music industry within the last 15 years occurred on October 23, 2001. On that day Steve Jobs introduced to the world the iPod, and the music industry would never be the same. Imagine a device so small it can fit in your pocket and contain literally tens of thousands of songs you can just look up and press play in a few seconds? On that day, Steve Jobs would become more than just the innovative founder/CEO of Apple Computer. Steve Jobs would become among the most powerful men in the music industry. And with the introduction of the iPod, Apple Computer would shortly thereafter become Apple Inc., a move that shifted its focus a computer company to a consumer electronics company.
Whether or not you agree the Rolling Stones are the greatest rock ‘n roll band of all time, it is universally acknowledge they are one of the most important bands in the history of rock. Responsible for writing the bulk of some of the greatest, most memorable songs ever recorded The Rolling Stones today have no musical equal whatsoever. From the bluesy rock guitar riffs and soulful melodies on “Brown Sugar,” to the Eastern Indian medleys and dark, philosophical, satirical lyrics about Lucifer on “Sympathy For The Devil,” to the best known opening guitar riff in all of music care of “Satisfaction,” Rocks Off is your guide to how 50 of the Stones’ most well known songs came about. The writing and recording process, the inspiration behind those songs, what the band was going through during good times and bad, the conflicts, relationships, everything you ever wanted to know is well researched by Bill Janovitz, the author who keenly analyzes every track, every note, composition, but also describes how some of the songs were directly inspired by the era the Stones were living in at the time.
During her time at MTV, Kennedy was known as a “pull no punches” kind of VJ. A television personality not afraid being herself, even if it meant incurring the wrath of her MTV/Viacom bosses or the self-important rock stars of the alternative era who took themselves too seriously. In The Kennedy Chronicles—The Golden Age of MTV Through Rose-Colored Glasses (Thomas Dunne Books), Kennedy shares chapter after chapter of her time at MTV, starting out as barely 20-year-old plucked out of obscurity to be one of the premier faces on MTV during what many consider MTV’s last golden age of music videos. From her near firing after performing simulated oral sex during the 1994 MTV Music Awards standing next to then New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, to her many near flings with various rock stars (which Kennedy was able to fend off and remain a virgin for the majority of her MTV stint), The Kennedy Chronicles is a great read and should be required reading for all students of MTV.
The reason you want to pick up VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave is to have a first-hand account from those original MTV VJs who actually lived and partied like rock stars during MTVs glorious first years. Yes, at one time MTV not only mattered musically but it was seen as a cultural revolution. Music was entering the video era and it was Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn, JJ Jackson and Alan Hunter who introduce America to this new medium.
Two books that have recently hit bookstores are must haves for anyone connected to the music industry. Hitmaker: The Man and His Music by Tommy Mottola and The Soundtrack of My Life by Clive Davis detail the rise and rise of two of the industy’s leading music executives. Both books are generously filled with many behind the scenes stories on the inner workings and mechanism of what it takes to develop career artists, finding the right songs, being in the right place and right time, and trusting your gut instincts. That’s what propelled both iconic executives to the very top of their professions, generating billions of dollars in revenue for their respective labels (Mottola at Sony, Davis at Arista/J Records/Sony BMG) and overseeing the careers of many of today’s equally iconic artists.