Ron Stutts says music is such a big part of his life that he wakes up with a song in his head every morning. Sometimes he writes about it.
In my last remembrance, I talked about my early music influences, starting with Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Sam Cooke…going through great artists such as The Temptations, Four Tops, and all the other Motown groups. Plus, the great soul music coming out of Memphis and other places down South knocked me out, too. Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, and my favorite, Otis Redding. When I got into my first radio job, I was able to interview several of these talented folks, and that only magnified my love for the music. A lot of that these days is considered Beach Music. Whatever you call it, it’s all great stuff.
Of course, there is no way to overestimate the importance of The Beatles and everything having to do with The British Invasion. The Fab Four were always at the front of the pack, but The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Who, Cream, and all the other groups that took this country by storm took me by storm, too, and I was changed forever, just like a lot of other kids my generation. The scope widened during my college years, and I still listened to all the soul music, but acquired a taste for the rock ‘n roll coming out of the United States…especially the innovative sounds coming from the West Coast. The Byrds, in particular, made a big impact. It was that special California country rock with the jangling guitars that really touched my soul.
I couldn’t help becoming a big fan of Jimi Hendrix. As far as I was concerned, he had no peer when it came to his artistry with the guitar.
I still feel that way. I was also a big fan of The Doors, Mamas & The Papas, Joni Mitchell, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steppenwolf, and other acts who came along during that time, and that would include Bob Dylan, a great songwriter, although if you ask me, he still can’t sing. I also loved Crosby, Stills & Nash (and late, Young added a fourth voice to the group. I first heard their music in somebody’s dorm room when I was at Appalachian State University. Never heard anything quite like those guys, before or since.
When those big rock festivals started happening such as The Monterey Pop Festival, and Woodstock, I was forever hooked. Of course, there was my old favorite, Otis Redding blowing everybody away at Monterey, along with all those great rock and roll bands. And at Woodstock? Unforgettable performances from so many greats, like Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Sly & The Family Stone, and so many others. And who could forget Hendrix playing the national anthem and electrifying what was left of the crowd on the last morning of what’s been called “3 Days of Peace, Love & Music.”
By the way, a few people have asked me if I attended Woodstock, and, of course, the answer is maybe in my mind…but no, I wasn’t there. I was too young and unaware of the power of what was taking place to even think about going. I actually know of a couple of people who were there, but most of the people who say they were there really weren’t. I don’t think all of them could have fit into the entire state of New York.
It was an incredible time—the late 60’s and early 70’s. It seemed there was so much great music being released every single day. I’m a big fan of Led Zeppelin, The Chambers Brothers, Joe Cocker, Derek & The Dominos (Eric Clapton) and other more low-key artists like James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Cat Stevens, and so many others that just aren’t coming to mind right now.
I tried to forget most of the disco era, but I enjoyed a variety of music, and some of my favorites will always be Fleetwood Mac, Bob Seger, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company, Van Halen, Tom Petty, Queen, AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eagles, and dozens of other rock bands, too numerous to mention. There have been big periods of time when I just didn’t care that much for a lot of the stuff that was coming out, and I guess that’s still the case.
These days, I find myself listening to a lot of artists like Tedeschi Trucks Band, Leon Bridges, and sometimes even Brandi Carlile. It could be Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Muddy Waters…and I absolutely love Little Feat!
I got really excited when I became aware of a group called Black Pumas, pretty well known by now for a great song, “Colors.” They sound like they should have been around decades ago. The current artist I’ve listened to most in the last few months is a talented young guy, Marcus King. What a guitar player!
Still, I keep coming back to all those old 60’s soul acts, like The Tempts, The Tops, The Beatles, Wilson Pickett, Jerry Butler, Sly & The Family Stone, Eddie Floyd, Rolling Stones, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Rascals, The Dells, Billy Stewart, and, of course, Otis Redding. There’s always Otis!
To me, the old music is the best music, but you may have a totally different opinion about that, and I think that’s great. Music is such a powerful force, and it can play a very important role in your life. I actually feel sorry for those people who aren’t avid music fans, since I think they’re missing out on a lot. But we’re all wired differently, so who am I to say? As Sly once said, “Different Strokes For Different Folks!”