By Rick Houser-
I am sure I have pointed out that I am a baby boomer. It has been said by many that this period in history might just be the best so far. From my point of view I think it is and that is because so much has been accomplished and changed in the baby boomer era. From technology to entertainment, so many things made a change of noticeable proportion.
One area I think about a lot is the music of the time. As we left the 40’s and entered into the 50’s our music was filled with ballads and mixed with country western music. But as the 50’s began to move forward so did the songs we listened to. In about 1952 a new soundarrived and took over, especially with the young crowd. It was just called “rock and roll”. It was a mix between country music and rhythm and blues and to a faster, harder beat. I must tell you all that I am no expert in the area of music. As a matter of fact, I can’t carry a tune or play an instrument, but I know what I like to listen to and rock and roll was definitely it.
With the introduction to Bill Haley and the Comets and Fats Domino, along with Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry, it was safe to say this was a new style that was being heard for the first time. I can’t claim that I just happened to hear this and like it. In 1952 I was three years old but I had a sister named Peg who was 12 years older and a brother named Ben who was a little more than eight years older than me leaving me to be the baby of the family and their constant tag along.
They were the ones who were introduced to the new hip music of that time. Since I was almost always in their shadows, I would hear them talking about it and when a radio was on they were listening to the newest songs being played. Now if my sister and brother thought this to be the coolest thing happening, then so did I.
In the 50’s a television program appeared on Saturday nights called “Your Hit Parade”. It was an hour long show and Peg and Ben would never miss it and of course it was safe to say I was there also. This show would present the Top 10 hits for that week and they had performers that would perform the hits. This was pretty neat as it left Peg and Ben trying to guess what was in the Top 10. (I must say they were pretty good at knowing the hits.)
The music was still a little on the milder side until about 1954 when a young man took the stage on the Ed Sullivan Show and stunned the world. His name was Elvis Presley. He took rock and roll music to a level that had never been reached. Nothing had ever been seen like him before or for that matter, since. With my older siblings I got a head start on the music of that time and now can say that I do remember many of the groups from my preschool and elementary school days. I was ahead of my time and I was so glad I was, since I knew what songs were rocking the jukeboxes.
I want to move forward to 1964. Having listened to Elvis for a while now and a group from the west coast named the Beach Boys. I was still listening to the Top 10 hits show and the radio Top 10 also.
At school we were having sock hops and were listening mostly to what can be referred to as “bubble gum pop”, very calm music and mostly again back to ballad formats. Then in February of 1964 four young men from England arrived in New York City and performed on the Ed Sullivan show and turned the world upside down just as Elvis had before. They were the Beatles! Now I stumbled onto this group without Peg and Ben as they had grown up and moved out into the world. I don’t think any other group has ever been formed and left the huge mark that they did.
Of course rock and roll wasn’t just a couple of groups but a lot of good entertainers. I was so very fortunate to have been listening and watching when these two mega-stars arrived on the scene. As time moved on it seemed that the music world continued to top the sound and actions of those who performed before them. That I thought wasn’t always good and I will admit that here and now. I can’t stand rap! This is to me just one way of showing us that new styles of quality music have run out.
One area that has never slowed down or stopped is country western and Motown blues music. They were here before Elvis and are still here. Just think that by being a baby boomer I had the privilege and the pleasure of seeing quite possibly the greatest of the great begin their careers. Again I will state that I am no expert on music but I do know when something is so major that it changes our world and for the most part it has been an enjoyable set of changes to have lived through. Chuck Berry sang “that it has a back beat you can’t lose it any old way you choose it. It has to be rock and roll music if you want to dance with me”. Even though it is only as line to a song, I think it sums up what and how it has changed us.
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth. If interested in more of his stories he has two books for sale: There are Places I remember” and Memories ARE From the Heart.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 213 Bethel, Ohio 45106. –