A lively, entertaining, wide-ranging oral history of the golden age of the rock concert based on over ninety interviews with musicians, promoters, stagehands, and others who contributed to the huge cultural phenomenon that is live rock
Decades after the rise of rock music in the 1950s, the rock concert retains its allure and its power as a unifying experience—and as an influential multi-billion-dollar industry. In Rock Concert, acclaimed interviewer Marc Myers sets out to uncover the history of this compelling phenomenon, weaving together ground-breaking accounts from the people who were there.
Myers combines the tales of icons like Joan Baez, Ian Anderson, Alice Cooper, Steve Miller, Roger Waters, and Angus Young with figures such as the disc jockeys who first began playing rock on the radio, like Alan Freed in Cleveland and New York; the audio engineers that developed new technologies to accommodate ever-growing rock audiences; music journalists, like Rolling Stone's Cameron Crowe; and the promoters who organized it all, like Michael Lang, co-founder of Woodstock, to create a rounded and vivid account of live rock's stratospheric rise.
Rock Concert provides a fascinating, immediate look at the evolution of rock 'n' roll through the lens of live performances —spanning from the rise of R&B in the 1950s, through the hippie gatherings of the '60s, to the growing arena tours of the '70s and '80s. Elvis Presley's gyrating hips, the British Invasion that brought the Beatles in the '60s, the Grateful Dead's free flowing jams, and Pink Floyd's The Wall are just a few of the defining musical acts that drive this rich narrative. Featuring dozens of key players in the history of rock and filled with colorful anecdotes, Rock Concert will speak to anyone who has experienced the transcendence of live rock.
Myers (Anatomy of a Song), a music writer for the Wall Street Journal, surveys in this engrossing oral history five decades of rock concerts, and the "songwriters, producers, disc jockeys, managers, promoters, and artists sided with the youth culture as it struggled to be heard." Starting with the emergence of R&B in the late 1940s and ending with 1985's Live Aid benefit, he vividly recreates what went on behind the scenes, onstage, and in the crowds with intimate accounts from the people who were there. Joan Baez recounts what it was like to perform at the 1963 March on Washington and to lead the crowd in singing "We Shall Overcome"; Bob Eubanks describes how despite being a disk jockey who'd never produced a concert before he scrambled to secure the funding to make the Beatles' legendary Hollywood Bowl performance happen; and Alice Cooper recalls relocating his band from California to the Midwest, where his "lurid and despicable" reputation resonated with Rust Belt kids. Myers also offers a thoughtful overview of the considerable ways in which the rock landscape has shifted since Live Aid, due to the popularity of streaming services and scandals recently brought to light on social media in response to "past or present me-too events." Eminently entertaining, this is sure to delight rock fans of all persuasions. Agent: Glen Hartley, Writers' Representatives.