Category: Music

Remembering John Denver on His 75th Birthday

The early 1970s were angry times. From Kent State to Watergate, from Vietnam to Patty Hearst, society was polarized, and arguably no figure was more polarizing than mild-mannered, bespectacled singer-songwriter John Denver. By the late ’70s Denver had found mainstream success as a Hollywood leading man and a new life’s hobby–flying experimental aircraft…

Remembering Tom Petty (and Video Concert Hall)

In 1980, album oriented rock was high art, radio was king, and music videos were mere novelty items featured on an obscure cable program called Video Concert Hall. There was no better embodiment of these ideals at the time than Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and their breakthrough album “Damn the Torpedoes,” particularly the single “Here Comes My Girl,” which stands out as a great love song as well as a breakout music video from before there was even MTV.

San Francisco City Hall 100–A Day in the Life of the Bay Area

City Hall 100 was ostensibly a celebration of the century mark of the San Francisco City Hall structure itself, but the reason people came out on this June 2015 evening was not for events that happened 100 years ago, but for what started 50 years ago when San Francisco entered the rock and roll era: People were there for the live music.

TV Reinvented the Rock Star

(In Part 1 of this essay we explored the rise of the rock star in popular culture as a function of television. Part 2 touched on the ascendance of album rock. In the third and final installation, we look at…