Introduction

Early in 1982 radio station WABC in New York City switched from rock music to a mostly-talk format. This was hardly an earthshaking event, but it certainly was a significant one, for it marked the end of what future sociological historians may well look back on as the Rock Era. There is little doubt that rock music will survive for many years to come, but when the leading rock music station in America put the music aside for talk, it had very good reason for doing so.

As audience interest dropped in the Top 40 music they were playing, so did their ratings and their annual billings--in the neighborhood of $9 million four years earlier, these had plunged to half that amount. WABC was the prime example of what was happening all over the nation. According to the show business bible Variety on December 16, 1981, Top 40 AM radio stations were becoming an endangered species.

Rock music had crashed its way into the American music scene in 1954 via AM radio, which soon became ruled by tight-format programming. Most top-rated stations began devoting a majority of their airtime to hits--the Top 40, then eventually only the Top 30 or 20. WABC was their undisputed leader.

The switch from rock to talk twenty-eight years later by the nation's top music station is only one illustration of the entire climate of change. From 1954 to the early 1970s, rock music influenced almost every aspect of American life. During the wind down in the 1970s and early 1980s, what rock had wrought in the accelerating 1950s and tumultuous 1960s still affected cultural aspects that were virtually ruled by the music and its youthful following in those decades. But, in almost every aspect of American social life--from fashions and fads to films and television--there was a gradual decline in the rock/youth impact.

Rock music's significant contribution in its initial stages was that it gave American youth a unified voice for the first time in the nation's history. And, as the news influenced youth--from the election of President John F. Kennedy to the pull-out from Vietnam--one of the most powerful

-xi-

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Year by Year in the Rock Era
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • THE ROCK ERA BY YEAR 1
  • 1954 3
  • 1955 8
  • 1956 13
  • 1957 19
  • 1958 26
  • 1959 33
  • 1960 40
  • 1961 47
  • 1962 54
  • 1963 61
  • 1964 68
  • 1965 76
  • 1966 87
  • 1967 98
  • 1968 108
  • 1969 118
  • 1970 128
  • 1971 139
  • 1972 147
  • 1973 155
  • 1974 163
  • 1975 171
  • 1976 179
  • 1977 186
  • 1978 194
  • 1979 204
  • 1980 215
  • 1981 228
  • THE ROCK ERA BY CATEGORY 245
  • The Cost of Living: Prices Through the Years in the Rock Era 247
  • Miscellaneous News About Prices in the Rock Era 256
  • Car Prices 260
  • Tuition Fees at Colleges and Universities 263
  • Recap and Flashback of Relevant Facts 266
  • The Fast Pace of Firsts in the Rock Era 270
  • Winners Relevant to the Rock Era 281
  • Important Films in the Rock Era 285
  • Growing Up with TV in the Rock Era 293
  • Books and Magazines Relevant to Youth and the Rock Era 308
  • Comics and Comic Strips in the Rock Era 330
  • Bibliography 339
  • About the Author 351
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