Dan Heilman · 


May 28

What killed rock music?

Building on a previous answer, another culprit whose prints are on the weapon that killed rock’n’roll is classic rock radio.

By creating a format whose sole purpose was to enshrine the genre’s definition as “White guys with guitars in the 1970s,” it ghettoized everything outside those narrow boundaries. That especially became true when classic rock became a dominant, unkillable format.

Our local CR giant, for a while, would play new releases by format giants (Seger, Stones, Petty, Allmans), and even stuck a toe in alternative rock, but none of that lasted. For 30 years, it’s been that infernal playlist of the same 300 (if that?) songs, again and again. There’s a new band that sounds a bit like Led Zeppelin? No, too scary. There’s a new Neil Young album? Forget that, we’re playing “Southern Man” for the 10th time this week. The more homogenized and restrictive the format can be made, the better.

And while classic rock radio has been pushed aside somewhat by country and other formats, its damage has been done. When a music lover is fed the same pablum day after day, their appetite for anything spicier, or even anything different, goes away. When enough fans of a kind of music have their curiosity starved to death, when they succumb to the radio mantra “People know what they like and like what they know,” that music isn’t going to make it.