Born in 1957, I grew up in the '60s in suburban Western Australia. I remember once comparing my early background to that of the guy in the "Wonder Years" tv show - kind of bland but with interesting things going on around. My first musical memories are of the so called "British invasion". It must have been around '64 to '66. The Beatles first couple of albums were out I think because their first significant singles were. The one song that comes to mind to sum up my perspective of that era was Mashed Potato, I guess because I wasn't really into the music (I was observing my older brothers' behaviour) and the food connection probably meant something significant to me. Mashed potato with grilled lamb chops and carrots boiled until they have given up was pretty much a staple at our house.
I have two older brothers with about a 4 year space between each of us. The age gap was big enough for us to be somewhat distant. I don't remember that we played together but we never really fought either. Anyway, I somehow knew they were pretty cool and they were quite an influence on my musical tastes. In those early years, my eldest brother must have been more influencial. He had his own bedroom and I remember the walls were covered with pinups of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Animals, Manfred Mann, Herman's Hermits, Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas, The Moody Blues, etc. Somehow the Rolling Stones were most most prominent.
As time went on I think, I got more influence from my second brother. He was more accessible because of age gap and perhaps also music tastes. He seemed to lean to softer music and was a Beatles and Dylan fan. This was the more mellow and intellectual period of Rubber Soul and Sgt Pepper's. My eldest brother's formative period was more characterised by the youthful hedonistic frenzy of A Hard Day's Night. In this second period he was probably more involved in football or study but was somewhat out of the picture.
I remember "dances" held to raise money for junior football clubs. One had a band of doing cover versions of hits of the time. I remember the Rollin' Stones' Walkin' the Dog. I also remember that I found the volume unpleasant and spent most of the night outside playing on the field hockey goals I'd been in a car accident in second grade and was quite seriously hurt. This was given as the reason to my aversion to loud noise which, with some exceptions, has stayed with me.
My interest in music must have started to form in the period of Sgt Peppers but in my youth I was still leaning to pop and my tastes would have been capture by singalong styles of "Help!" and "Yellow Submarine". I also remember liking The Royal Guardsmen who had a series of hits with themes related to Snoopy from the comic strip and his imaginary meetings with the Red Baron. (Incidently, I became intrigued with the First World War and it still fascinates me.). Also The Legend of Xanadu by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beeky, Mick and Tich and The Wreck of the Antionette were favourites.
By the end of primary school, I had discovered Jimi Hendrix. My eldest brother had a collection of singles and EPs of Hendrix and they had drawn me in. I don't remember any of my peers having any interest but I do remember arging with some girls that the Monkees (who were the popular teen & teeny bopper idols at the time) were rubbish and Hendrix was the thing. Although at times I may have aped my brothers' tastes, my interest in Hendrix' music was genuine. The singles had enough pop sensibility to appeal to my immature taste, as well as sophistication on other levels.
Around this time, I learned air guitar and often shut myself in my brothers room at the end of the house playing Hendrix, Cream and other singles as loud as possible. I was a consumate fan soaking up everything I could. I got my first 10 out of 10 grade on a report I wrote about Hendrix for first year high English. I remember hearing of his death. For some reason I think I was at school on the way to the science labs. By the time his final official album, Cry of Love, came out, I was getting jaded and ready to look for new things.
The '70s were for me, as for many people, horrible. In retrospect its pretty easy to see that all that had built up in the '60s was looking for a new 'sophistication'. I remember in my first year of high school dressing in the best hippy outfit a suburban 13 year old could. Hmm...sounds kind of Partidge Family! I took the heritage of all the late '60s psychedilia of Hendrix and Cream with me into the 70s and for the most part found new innovations not quite right. Anything I liked probably was at Woodstock or had connections or comparisons to something that was.
I inherited the value of non-conformism from my brothers and took it literally. I avoided many of the things that were popular with my peers - Levi jeans, the newly forming heavy metal, glitter glam rock, etc. For a while I even experimented with being a skinhead/bovver boy. (I was a pretty non-threatening one being without a gang as I was.)
I remember when a brother's friend came back from a holiday in Bali with a stack of cheap bootleg records. He asked me if I wanted a creedence record. My brother stepped in and said "he doesn't like that stuff. He's into Hendrix". It was a mark of approval and I was quite happy to hear it.
Approval is one thing but I was looking for my own place in the world and I had to find my own musical tastes. That was a problem because of the nature of the seventies and the resources available to me. What I liked was mostly an extension of the late sixties in some way. I remember only a few artists that I felt I was able to claim as my own taste. The Allman Brothers Band was one. Another, which I admit with extreme embarrasment, was Leo Sayer. Around this time, in my hometown at least there was a boom in blues bands. I enjoyed this for a while but a couple of years of uninspired "bompa bompa" and excessive directionless guitar solos left their toll. I came to hate blues and even got rid of some pretty good albums.
There were a few interesting things happening. J.J. Cale still strikes me as a unique and interesting perfomer from the time. Bob Marley & reggae have stood the test of time too.
Towards the end of high school, my brothers took me down to their bedroom to show me a few chords on the old guitar. I practiced for a while but didn't stick at it because my fingers hurt. The following year a girl started to show interest in me and it came out that she played guitar. I thought a common point would be a good thing and the motivation was enough for me to start practicing in earnest.
When I finished high school I went into teachers college to study art teaching. I'd wanted to major in art rather than teaching but failed to get in. Art education seemed the next closest thing.
to be continued... --MichaelGlass