The following are brief summaries of lectures presented on musical acts from the 70s.
THE SEVENTIES: UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE SIXTIES
The Fantastic Voyage of David Bowie
David Bowie is considered to be one of the most influential music innovators of the 20th century. Bowie’s career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, with his music and stagecraft having a significant impact on popular music. We will focus on his groundbreaking work of the 1970’s and travel with him from his early days in London to the creation of his alter ego Ziggy Stardust (glam rock) to becoming the White Duke (plastic soul) to his sojourn in Berlin (electronic). In addition, we will canvas his subsequent work from his new romantic pop era period including “Let’s Dance” (1983) to his final experimental recordings. Bowie was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Elton John: Your Songs (The Golden Years 1970-1976)
Elton John in collaboration with lyricist Bernie Taupin has written approximately 500 songs and sold more than 300 million records making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. We will travel with Elton from his early days in London as a songwriter and session man through his international fame as a solo performer. We will focus on his golden years (1970 -1976) where he dominated worldwide record charts with 15 hit singles ranging from the ballad “Your Song” to the rocker “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)”. In addition, we will survey his numerous and wide-ranging accomplishments including soundtracks, films and collaboration albums. Elton John was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1992) and The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame (1994).
The Making of Billy Joel
Billy Joel is an American singer-songwriter and composer who is one of the best -selling music artists of all time. We will travel with the “Piano Man” from his early days in Long Island to his breakthrough album “The Stranger,” including his entire LP catalog, and his string of successful hit singles from “It’s Still Rock n Roll to Me” to “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Additonally, we will canvas Billy’s international performances leading to his current residency at Madison Square Garden. Billy Joel was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
Jimmy Page: From Session Man to Led Zeppelin
Jimmy Page is considered to be one of the greatest most influential guitarists of all time. We will journey with Page from his early days in London as an in-demand studio session musician through his tenure as a member of The Yardbirds to his international success as the guitarist, founder, songwriter and producer for Led Zeppelin. Rolling Stone has described him as “the pontiff of power riffing” and ranked him #3 of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, behind Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. He was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame on two occasions, once as a member of The Yardbirds (1992) and again as a member of Led Zeppelin (1995).
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY)
CSN was a folk rock group composed of singer-songwriters David Crosby, Steven Stills and Graham Nash - later adding a fourth member (Neil Young), thus creating the quartet Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY). We will journey with them through their early days as members of various rock bands (The Byrds, The Buffalo Springfield, The Hollies) to their coming together as a group and discovering how the power of their songs, enhanced by their intricate vocal harmonies, influenced a generation. CSN was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and all three members of the group were inducted individually for their work in their original bands. Neil Young was inducted as a solo performer and as a member of Buffalo Springfield.
The Making of Crosby, Stills and Nash (Album)
Crosby, Stills and Nash’s debut album lifted them to instant stardom. The album’s overall sound along with the songwriting included folk, blues and even jazz elements. From Stephen Stills complex arrangements (Suite: Judy Blue Eyes), to David Crosby’s atmospheric mood pieces (Guinevere), to the pop melodies of Graham Nash (Marrakesh Express), the complete album proved influential on many levels in the popular music scene of the 1970s. CSN were inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
Jeff Lynne: Mr. Blue Sky
Jeff Lynne’s impressive musical resume includes: singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, and record producer. We will journey with Jeff from his early days as a member of Idle Race and The Move, and his role as becoming co-founder of The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). As it’s leader and chief songwriter, he produced 10 ELO albums and 15 UK top ten singles, including “Evil Woman,” Strange Magic,” and “Turn to Stone.” Jeff, along with George Harrison, co-founded the 80’s supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys. Jeff’s studio production credits include recordings by The Beatles (‘Free As A Bird”), “Solo” Beatles George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr, “Solo “ Wilburys Tom Petty and Roy Orbison and also Dave Edmunds, Bryan Adams, Brian Wilson, and Del Shannon. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of ELO (2017) and The Songwriters Hall of Fame (2023).
Tom Petty’s interest in rock and roll music began at age ten when he met Elvis. We will travel with Tom from his first band, Epics , (which evolved to Mudcrutch) and then led him to the formation of The Heartbreakers, signing with Shelter Records. The band whose music was characterized as both southern rock and heartland rock. Early hits included “Refugee,” “The Waiting,” and “American Girl,” We will continue our journey with Tom as he leaves his band, and joins the supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys, while pursuing both a solo career and finally reforming The Heartbreakers. Tom Petty was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Heartbreakers (2017).
Queen was formed in 1970 and became hugely successful incorporating various genres into their work, including progressive art rock, hard rock, heavy metal, vaudevillian music hall and pop rock. We will journey with Freddie Mercury and the band through their early days in London to international stardom - from their anthem “We Are the Champions” to the complex harmonies of “Somebody to Love” to the pseudo-classical arrangement of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Queen has sold over 200 million records making the band one of the world’s best-selling artists. Queen was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Bruce Springsteen: Born in New Jersey
Bruce Springsteen is a singer/songwriter, performer who is known for his brand of heartland rock infused with pop hooks, poetic lyrics and Americana sentiments centered on his native New Jersey. We will travel with Bruce from his early days in Freehold, New Jersey, to his rise on the world stage as a superstar rock hero. Our focus will be on songs from his most commercially successful period from the 70s into the 80s. From his “wall of sound” influence in “Born to Run,” to the lost working-class man facing a spiritual crisis in “Born in the USA,” and including songs written by Springsteen and performed by other artists. Bruce Springsteen was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
The Beatles Next: The Solo Years
The lecture will continue in the footsteps of The Beatles story and focus on the highlights of the “solo” post-Beatles careers of John, Paul, George and Ringo. We will explore the aftermath of The Beatles legacy and how they established themselves as solo artists. Our journey will also discuss their musical collaborations with each other on many of their solo projects. Coming full circle, we will explore their last collaborative project “The Beatles Anthology” released in the late 90’s.
The Making of Stevie Wonder
We will survey five Stevie Wonder albums as recorded during his classic period starting in 1972 until 1976. From "Music of the Mind" to "Songs In The Key of Life", we will explore the fusion of innovative recording techniques and the weaving of lyrically full artistic statements of social, political, and romantic themes into his work. Stevie Wonder is the only artist in Grammy history to win 15 awards in a decade - the 70s. He was inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
The 70’s: Progressive Art Rock
Progressive art rock can be defined as a fusion of jazz, classical and folk elements combined with psychedelic and avant-garde music. In addition, art rock includes conceptual literary themes incorporated within an album format. We will explore a brief history and selected work of five bands from the seventies that exemplified the genre - Pink Floyd, Yes, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake, & Palmer (ELP) and Electric Light Orchestra (ELO).
The 70’s: Power Pop
The term “power pop” was originally coined by The Who’s Pete Townshend to describe his band’s style of music. However, the term became more widely identified with subsequent artists from the seventies who sought to revive Beatles-like pop music. The genre typically incorporates melodic hooks, vocal harmonies and energetic performances. We will explore a brief history of power pop along with tunes from six major power pop artists including Badfinger, Todd Rundgren, The Raspberries, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds.
The 70’s: Mixed Bag - From Pop Rock to Punk
We will survey five artists who pioneered different musical styles that originated in the seventies. Performers include: Fleetwood Mac (blues/pop rock), Rod Stewart (glam rock), The Eagles (country rock), Bruce Springsteen (heartland rock) and Patti Smith (punk/art rock). We will explore a brief history of each of the artists and discuss their landmark albums found within their 70’s catalogs. Each artist has been inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
The 70’s: The Return of 60’s Rock Icons
The Sixties revolutionized popular music and presented us with the quintessential rock icon. We will travel with five 60’s superstars into the seventies and explore each artist’s seminal work of the decade. Rock icons include: Bob Dylan (poet/songwriter), The Rolling Stones (bad boys of rock n’ roll), Eric Clapton (guitar virtuoso), The Who (power chord ensemble) and The Bee Gees (disco kings). Each artist has been inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Eric Clapton is the only triple inductee, first as a member of The Yardbirds, then as a member of Cream and finally as a solo artist.
The 70’s: Fleetwood Mac: The Making of Rumours
This eleventh album by Fleetwood Mac is considered to be their magnum opus. It was written and recorded in the aftermath of relationship breakups among its members and heavy drug use which shaped the album’s lyrics. From “Dreams,” (Stevie Nicks) to “Don’t Stop,” (Christine McVie) to “Go Your Own Way,” (Lindsey Buckingham) the songs become an open diary of their personal lives. Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
The 70’s: The Making of Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
Regarded as Eric Clapton’s greatest musical achievement recorded with his band as Derek & The Dominoes. The double album includes eight songs co-written by Clapton with five blues- based covers. The album’s centerpiece, “Layla” was rooted in Clapton’s infatuation with Patti Boyd, the wife of Beatle George Harrison. The songs sing to the theme of unrequited love and its related heartaches. In 2000, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Eric Clapton has been inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame three times as a member of The Yardbirds, Cream and as a solo performer.
The 70’s: Pink Floyd: The Making of Dark Side of The Moon
A concept album that explores themes such as conflict, greed, time, death and mental illness. It is among the most critically acclaimed records in history. The album was promoted with two singles: “Money” and “Us and Them.” Snippets from interviews with the band’s road crew are featured alongside philosophical quotations. In the US it charted for 958 weeks in total, with some estimated sales of over 45 million copies. The National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.” Pink Floyd was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.