During the Fourth of July I try to recount some of the things that I love about this country. One of the things that I love about this country is the rock and soul music of the 1950s and 1960s.
I didn’t grow up in that period. But when I was a kid, I would take bus 55 to school and the bus drivers would frequently play KYA 1260 AM, an oldies station that played 1950s and 1960s music. It was in listening to KYA that I learned to love the music of Elvis, Chuck Berry, the Supremes, The Loving Spoonful, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Monkees, the Doors and all those great musical acts of that time.
I was just a nerdy kid who didn’t know what was cool and what wasn’t cool, but I just got hooked on things that caught my interest. I read that early rock was a combination of country and rhythm and blues, and I could hear those influences on Elvis, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and the first rock n’rollers. I loved how the American musicians of that time were free to experiment and to be open to influences of country, gospel, rhythm and blues, folk music, and jazz. And I learned from watching documentaries how music was an important means of breaking racial barriers as young people of all races would find themselves loving Elvis or James Brown or the Beach Boys or Motown music.
I love other types of music too: 1980s New Wave, classical music, jazz, disco. My friends have been a big influence in introducing me to different musical genres and musicians.
Here is a youtube video of a 1965 music revue where Dusty Springfield introduces a British audience to some of the major acts of Motown. British musicians like Dusty Springfield, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Animals were deeply influences by American soul, rock and blues music.