Between the end of the Beatles and the beginning of disco, modern rock was born.
The year was 1971, the year Mick Jagger, now on his soon-to-be-eighth child, fathered his first and took his only wedding vows with Bianca. Forty-five years later, he’s still got it (in more ways than one, apparently), and so do most of the bands and solo acts featured in Never A Dull Moment: 1971 The Year that Rock Exploded.
Several shifts in the musical landscape helped push rock to new heights: The record store became the teen hangout and the concert audience grew bigger and ballsier. Put those two together, add a dash – well more than a dash – of media promotion, and you get what endures today: the megaperformer and the megaconcert.
The author of Never a Dull Moment, David Hepworth, experienced this heady time firsthand (as did I, though I was in elementary school, cuddled up to my transistor radio, listening to Elton John and Cat Stevens) and weaves some personal experience into his book. Written in chronological order, (just like 1965, another book I’ve read and reviewed) the chapters take the reader through the nastiness of the Beatles breakup to the beginnings of Bowie and the return of the Beach Boys.
This book is a veritable Who’s Who of my musical childhood, with stories about Carole King, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Rod Stewart, Don McLean, Stevie Wonder . . . the list goes on. Some of it is titillating – everyone on their way up seemed to find each other in the sack – some of it is depressing, as in the case of Marvin Gaye, and all of it is worth reading. In fact, it should be mandatory reading for any kid starting a band in his garage. You gotta know where you came from to get where you’re going.
Need proof that ‘71 was truly the year that rock exploded? It’s the year “Stairway to Heaven” and “Baba O’Riley” were released. I rest my case.