Chapter I: SEX, DRUGS AND ROCK 'N ROLL
Sex....I know what everyone's thinking but its NOT what you're thinking....
SEX, I mean the romance of what it was in the 60's, when we only had one partner-AM Radio.
She was emotional, sensitive and had a whole lot of attitude! What made the relationship so very loving was the mysterious voice coming from the other side of the radio, the disc jockey, the DJ.
When he started spinning those vinyl 45's, we became engaged in wild ecstasy with every sound emitted, whether in the car or from a tiny transistor radio. Emotions in the back seat or on the beach. All these feelings bouncing off our brains from artists like Bill Haley and the Comets, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis...Pat Boone, that glass of white milk without the Oreos...the Drifters, Coasters, Marvelettes, Chuck Berry and countless artists swirling through the airwaves, from that day in 1955 when Bill Haley told us to “Rock Around the Clock”.
Then there was the folk music revival of the early 60's—Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie had influenced and romanced us with message music...Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, Joan Baez and the bluesy traditional folk of Odetta were being creeping into the AM play lists particularly in areas where college students were searching the dial. It was passionate and full of attitude.
Suddenly, a tsunami flooded the airwaves from coast to coast originating in England – it was called Beatles and the British Invasion. It stormed throughout America's radio stations, breaking down the floodgates and nearly washing away our OWN sounds...but not quite... for in 1966, a different super storm, forming within our own land, moving east and fueled by the power of Dick Clark's “American Bandstand” and overtaking the west riding on “Where the Action Is” …
The sounds of this wave breaking onto the land was named “? and the Mysterians”. It drowned The Beatles and the other chart creatures but receded too quickly, yet still gained the attention and romance of the AM crowd. Those who remember and survived the great “? and the Mysterians” storm of 1966 still talk of it decades later in 2014 – of the ROMANCE of the rock and roll, the dj's and the listeners and how it all came together on AM radio.
All of the sudden around 1968, from way out west in San Francisco came the loud piercing noise of guitars, drums and and screaming vocals. Because of what was happening on the west coast, DRUGS and not the romance of life became the influence and the sound of the ROCK 'N ROLL was drowned out by the noisy sounds. FM radio began to eat away at the AM stations—slap on a big vinyl album and just let it play. The intimate relationship between the listeners—the lovers of the ROCK 'N ROLL-- and the DJ went silent. I don't know what kind of Kool Aid they were drinking, but the musicians couldn't seem to stop playing—they got lost and couldn't find the end of the songs.
They tried to find names that made them as alluring as “ ? and the Mysterians” – Jimi Hendrix Experience, Big Brother and the Holding Company, the Grateful Dead, Electric Prunes and thought it opened Doors. Pot and acid wrote the rambling compositions and the dancers stopped dancing. Everyone was lying around on quaaludes in their t'shirts proclaiming “Have a Nice Trip”. The 45's were gone and the band played on and on and on.
In raging protest came the punks – Suicide, Iggy Pop, MC5, Patti Smith, DEVO, the Ramones—now called protopunk – the prototype for punk? There was a lot of jumping around and up and down but the art of dance was lost to the speed, cocaine and heroin. There was no romance in punk.
Then something REALLY bad happened in 1977—it was called disco. Fueled by mountains of white powder, but at least there was dancing involved. A little piece of the British Invasion tsunami called a BeeGee showed its face—apparently having sustained an injury to the personal anatomy in the earlier melee that changed the voice to falsetto. Then others were afflicted with the same.
The punks were still jumping up and down, moshing in their pits but some of them were cross dressers and covered in glitter like the New York Dolls and Poison. It was a drug induced semi-comatose sound of frustration. A real band attempted to emerge from the fray called The Ramones, but then punk AND Nancy were murdered by this bunch called Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols. They cussed and they swore and couldn't get enough heroin and speed in this era...punched holes in every part of themselves they could...and we thought Disco was ugly....
Another wave-- the New Wave—Elvis Costello, and the ladies....Pat Benetar, Joan Jett, Blondie, Go-Gos.
Following them was a slow moving snail of a storm that started on the West Coast-- Pearl Jam with Eddie Vedder diving headlong into the crowds —leading into a pool of the most depressing time in the history of American music—junkie grunge—too drugged to think, let alone dance...Kurt Cobain and the Hole he fell into... ROCK 'N ROLL committed suicide...
And when we thought there were no drugs left that could do music in any further, crack cocaine burned in a haze accompanied by hip hop and rap—no real band, no real melody—yell it, talk it, smoke a rock on it.
The romance of ROCK 'N ROLL had now become an orgy of individual parties. Radio stations had diversified and overdosed by slow suicide, parading pubescent teens like InSync and Backstreet Boys in front of half clad jail baitt girls like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera with their ringmaster Lou Perlman raking in the dough. The drug of choice—big money and the machine....
Just when there was hope for music to enter rehab, the worst came out-- Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, One Direction... It has no direction, it has no romance. There is no emotion, no sensitivity and the only attitude is BAD...
ROCK 'N ROLL
Somehow, out of the AM radio in 1955, through a lot of great and not so great decades of sex, drugs and some kind of sound, thrown together like the monster Frankenstein, some ROCK 'N ROLL survived.
Nobody could expect that one band could make their way through all this and come out the other side without compromising themselves to the drugs or their music to the noises. In 1962, one band started on a journey and met the challenge of survival. They were, and still are, ? and the Mysterians—still the original members, nobody in rehab, nobody addicted to anything but their love for the ROCK N' ROLL
Through every generation, every genre, every label, we just kept playing our own stuff our own way, never getting sucked into the vortex—WE ARE THE TEMPLATE FOR ROCK 'N ROLL!
COMING SOON: CHAPTER 2 - “? AND THE MYSTERIANS” TRAVEL THROUGH TIME
Meanwhile, visit the petition to get ? and the Mysterians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at http://www.ipetitions.com search keyword "Mysterians"
Article made by Question Mark & Susie Martin/2014
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