|Led Zeppelin, January 1975, Chicago (Wikipedia)|
With the enduring popularity and classic status of bands like The Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Rush and others, we sometimes lose sight of how groundbreaking these bands were when they first hit the airwaves and stereos of music fans decades ago.
Having just seen the huge splash of acts like Elvis, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, The Beatles were something of a groundbreaking act back in the early 1960s.
They had harmonies, they played their own instruments, and their songwriting was superb.
Previously, artists were recording songs mandated by their record companies or even covering established hits. The Beatles were one of the first acts to write and record their own original material (and actually have huge hits come on the heals of this unheard of activity).
Just a few years later, The Who took the mod look and their edgier pop sound and began to add heavier elements to their songs, recordings and performances.
Songs like 'My Generation' would give way to the crushing 'Won't Get Fooled Again' and Who performances would quickly incorporate exploding drum-kits and smashed guitars at the hands of Keith Moon and Pete Townsend.
Longer songs with intricate keyboard sequences and dynamic movements and sections started to border on the progressive.
In the meantime, bands like Cream and Led Zeppelin were also creating more intricate material with heavy, hyper-amplified rock as the underpinnings.
While Zeppelin and Cream refer to themselves as beginnings of heavy metal; darker, heavier groups like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest would end up becoming the benchmark by which all early metal was judged.
As bands like Zeppelin had hinted at elements of progressive rock, Genesis, Yes and Rush made the genre all their own. With incredibly long and convoluted songs sometimes taking up the entire side of a vinyl album, these bands not only saw less airplay, but blew the doors off of what was considered high levels of musicianship.
Eventually, all three bands would find their way back onto the airwaves with shorter, more concise songs. Side-by-side with progish bands like Kansas and Styx, these acts became classic rock staples as they also packed arenas around the world with fans hungry for the incredible levels of musicianship each band encapsulated.
Within the span of just a decade, a wide variety of acts had broken ground in incredible ways, turning the record industry on its ear time and time again.
Today, as we look back through the annals of classic rock, many of these acts have been taken for granted because of the distance between their initial pioneering efforts and today's entertainment climate.
The fact is, without some of these groundbreaking acts, music would simply not sound the way it does today.
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