Saturday, September 19, 2009

Classic Rock - What is It?

By Jeff Bachmeier

For most generations, the term 'classic rock' is familiar. But there was a time when the word 'rock-n-roll' music wasn't in America's vocabulary and certainly not in rock-n-rolls.

The term classic rock came about due to the radio stations and their programmers who designed a large playlist of songs ranging from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. Taking these songs, these programmers would also then integrate a number of current releases and thus call it by this term.

The idea came about back when The Beatles groundbreaking album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, came out, which created a love for all of the tracks on the record rather than just one song. The AM and FM station programmers realized that they could play more than top singles and still keep their audiences attention. They could also mix up hits and non-hits to keep their listeners intrigued.

Radio has evolved over the years in choosing which songs to play, when and how. In the late 1960s and 1970s, choosing songs for the air was done by a disc jockey. This was followed by a more commercially oriented variant called album-oriented rock (AOR), or "album rock", which emerged in the mid- and late 1970s. This format concentrated on album cuts as well, but on a more structured, playlist-oriented basis.

By the 1970s and early 1980s, Album Oriented Rock would continue to be popular, but by the end of the 1980s, albums were mostly being replaced by compact discs. At this time, station playlists largely stopped keeping up with developing musical trends (including New Wave music), and "album rock" evolved into "classic rock radio".

This is where we get to the term came from. The concept is taken from older radio show formats in that music from the past is played. While there isn't any consistent playlist due to the fact bands and songs will come in and out of style, or that in some regions there will be favorites that are unique to that region. And sometimes, newer recordings by the format's core performers will occasionally be showcased. Anything can affect a playlist.

In addition, radio stations would then take this play list and add in songs and artists somewhat marginally associated with the classic rock radio era. Depending on the station, some will combine this kind of rock radio format with other formats, including modern rock in an attempt to increase popularity. The hybrid of classic rock and modern rock radio is also referred to as active rock.

In general, classic rock formats typically include selections from British hard rock and progressive rock bands, American 1970s rock bands and solo artists, and some material from late-1960s rock acts. In many areas, southern rock acts form a significant subset of classic rock playlists as well.

Some of the playlists also include some of the hard-rock and heavy metal bands of the 1970s and 80's and some amount of new wave selections. Some of the bands that are commonly associated with this kind of rock music are the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Queen, and the Eagles.

Though some of the artists played on classic rock music stations are still actively recording music, only their earlier hits are represented on the airwaves. Some classic rock music stations also include popular hard rock and metal bands from the 1980s, such as Guns 'n Roses and Metallica. Recently, some classic rock music stations have also begun to incorporate 1990s bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains into their rotation.

Who tends to gravitate toward listening to classic rock? Typically it is most popular among people who were young when the music first came out; those who recall hearing the song for the first time and what it was they were doing in their life. Hearing classic rock then takes the listener back to another place in time and maybe to a fond memory.

Jeff Bachmeier is owner of, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50's thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile. For more information please visit

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