Dr. J's Blog

Rock and Roll History, News & Views

Rick Nelson Pt. 1: "Rockabilly Ricky"

When rock and roll critics and historians first began looking back at the history of the genre in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Rick Nelson’s talents as a rock and roller were greatly undervalued. Influential Village Voice critic Robert Christgau called him “An inspired fake” and the first edition of the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll relegated him to the Teen Idols chapter instead of the Rockabilly chapter where he rightly belonged.

 

Today, the early teen idol era is often thought of as consisting of shallow, deriviative songs with little or no lasting value. Nelson was stung by being lumped into that category more than all of the negative reviews he ever received put together. He was distressed when he saw his photo surrounded by singers who were recorded more because of their looks and hairstyles rather than talent. In a 1972 interview with the New York Times, Rick had this to say: "A lot of people try to equate me with guys like Frankie Avalon and Fabian, but in the old days I sold a lot of records over a period of time, and you can't sustain that by being just another pretty face."

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The Blue Light Turned-On Midland

The Blue Light was an important mid-Michigan teen dance center that featured major rock and roll acts, many of the state’s important regional bands, as well as a host of young garage bands formed in the wake of the British Invasion. The venue was the brainchild of Hersh Goodwald: a chemical engineer, businessman, part-time disc jockey, and avid record collector, who formed a partnership with some other investors to buy a building and transform it into Midland, Michigan’s first, and most important, nightclub for young people.

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Best Albums Of 2016: Two Views

Two music aficionados, with roughly 120 years of rock and roll fandom under our belts, select the past year's best albums/CDs for the 8th consecutive year. This is the first time we've included links to songs from the selected albums. We hope you enjoy them, and we encourage you to support your favorite artists by purchasing their recordings.

Read more: Best Albums Of 2016: Two Views