What is Classic Rock?

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
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Watched another documentary last entitled What is Classic Rock? Was it an era, a type of music, a certain style? Over 50 current and past musicians were giving their thoughts.

This is the banner from the listing.

How do you define classic rock? Is it a genre, a radio format, or music from a specific period of time? Filmmaker & lifelong rocker Daniel Sarkissian travels the world, interviewing iconic artists in search of an answer.

I kind of agreed with the thought that whatever was played on Classic Rock radio stations was Classic Rock. My sister once said, There's no such thing as Country music just country stations. I think her definition would apply here as well.

Very interesting but I am no more clear now than I was before watching. Check it out.
 
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bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
For me, it's an era (late-'60s and throughout the '70s) and somewhat of a genre. If someone says they're playing Classic Rock, I assume that means some Kansas, Styx, Led Zeppelin, Who, early ZZ Top, Steely Dan, Elton John, some Beatles, Cream, Hendrix, etc.

In the same way, if someone says "oldies" I would expect '50/60s pop, bubblegum, doo-wop, Motown, etc. A much wider era/genre in my mind. But the term is completely subjective. The venerable L.A. oldies station, KRTH, cheerfully plays the Beatles, then Prince, then Human League. It's just a matter of time before '90s 'grunge' music starts creeping in.

I suppose today's youth will, in time, consider Britney Spears and Green Day to be oldies, but I'll bet they still call the Who (et al) Classic Rock.

Bermuda
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
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I agree with you, completely. One radio DJ, made the point that it is evolving, which I disagree with. Meaning if a song gets enough play time on a Classic rock station it becomes Classic Rock. Not for me. Oldies is oldies, Classic Rock is the big names rock bands for the 60's 70's. All others need to find a home.
 
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Mongrel

Silver Member
For me, it's an era (late-'60s and throughout the '70s) and somewhat of a genre. If someone says they're playing Classic Rock, I assume that means some Kansas, Styx, Led Zeppelin, Who, early ZZ Top, Steely Dan, Elton John, some Beatles, Cream, Hendrix, etc.

In the same way, if someone says "oldies" I would expect '50/60s pop, bubblegum, doo-wop, Motown, etc. A much wider era/genre in my mind. But the term is completely subjective. The venerable L.A. oldies station, KRTH, cheerfully plays the Beatles, then Prince, then Human League. It's just a matter of time before '90s 'grunge' music starts creeping in.

I suppose today's youth will, in time, consider Britney Spears and Green Day to be oldies, but I'll bet they still call the Who (et al) Classic Rock.

Bermuda
I immediately thought "1968 to 1978"...
 

Mustion

Senior Member
I started feeling old when I visited home and the local classic rock station I listened to while growing up was playing U2 and Pearl Jam alongside its usual BOC, Eagles, etc.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
This from Wikipedia, Classic Rock, under History.


The classic rock format evolved from AOR radio stations that were attempting to appeal to an older audience by including familiar songs of the past with current hits.[5] In 1980, AOR radio station M105 in Cleveland began billing itself as "Cleveland's Classic Rock", playing a mix of rock music from the mid-1960s to the present.[6] Similarly, WMET called itself "Chicago's Classic Rock" in 1981.[7] In 1982, radio consultant Lee Abrams developed the "Timeless Rock" format which combined contemporary AOR with rock hits from the 1960s and 1970s.[8]

KRBE, an AM station in Houston, was an early classic rock radio station. In 1983 program director Paul Christy designed a format which played only early album rock, from the 1960s and early 1970s, without current music or any titles from the pop or dance side of Top 40.[9] Another AM station airing classic rock, beginning in 1983, was KRQX in Dallas-Fort Worth.[10] KRQX was co-owned with an album rock station, 97.9 KZEW. Management saw the benefit in the FM station appealing to younger rock fans and the AM station appealing a bit older. The ratings of both stations could be added together to appeal to advertisers. Classic rock soon became the widely used descriptor for the format, and became the commonly used term, among the general public, for early album rock music.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
Maybe it's cos I'm a bit younger than the boomers, but to me classic rock is from maybe 1975-2000, and anything older than that is just straight-up oldies music. Hard to imagine that Zep and Purple are more than half a century old, but they are, and as much as I love them, they're antiques at this point. Time flies.
Punk hit around 1975. To say that Classic Rock started in 1975 doesn't make sense. Both The Doors and Are You Experienced? were released in 1967, and they're about Classic Rock as can be.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I think classic rock has become a subgenre of rock. Either you sound like it or you don't. Metallica, Motley Crue, Nirvana, and Beck are not classic rock, even though the radio would lead you to believe so.

It's like saying a 57 Chevy Bel Air with a big block is no longer a hot rod because it is too old. Conversely, a Honda CRX will never be a hot rod, regardless of modifications or age.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Except that Oldies, with a capital O and Classic with a capital C have become genre and never the twain shall meet. Folk music from the 60's is also very old but will never be Oldies. Maybe elevator music, but not Oldies
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I don't think classic rock can just be considered for certain years.

When I was a teenager, sure, classic rock was 60's and 70's, while 80's era albums were "new".

But over time, many albums released in the 80's have become class rock staples, such as U2, Journey, The Cars, the Micky Thomas era of Jefferson Starship, with some Whitesnake, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi thrown in.

And now I'm hearing 90's and even early 2000's music on the classic rock radio stations.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
From my own brand new dictionary, Wacky-Pedia...

Classic rock is any rock song from any era that is warmly welcomed by the large majority of the classic rock listening public.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
To me, its rock that has seen excessive radio play, making it popular.
I'd say it includes all the way into the 80's and even 90's (take Collective Soul's Gel or Shine, can be heard on many a classic rock station)
Classic rock 'radio' may soon be over.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I don't think classic rock can just be considered for certain years.

When I was a teenager, sure, classic rock was 60's and 70's, while 80's era albums were "new".

But over time, many albums released in the 80's have become class rock staples, such as U2, Journey, The Cars, the Micky Thomas era of Jefferson Starship, with some Whitesnake, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi thrown in.

And now I'm hearing 90's and even early 2000's music on the classic rock radio stations.
That was one point of the article or show, that radio stations are helping Classic evolve by playing music not before considered classic on "Classic Rock Radio" stations. But to some interviewed, this was a fallacy . If a Classic Rock station started playing Chopin or Bach, that certainly would not make that music Classi Rock. I think the true Classic Rock Genre isn't large enough maybe, to fill enough air time that other music has been added to avoid playing over and over.
 

Icetech

Gold Member
80-88ish... Culture club... Duran Duran... Bangles... at least that's what the classic/oldies stations here in detroit play now...
 

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
Classic Rock was always the 70s to me. A time period, but that's a genre in and of itself. I'm not sure why (the 60s are more classic-er than the 70s), but I don't refer to the 60s as classic rock. So many differences within rock during that period. Folk, blues, hippie, psychedelic, etc. . .but the 70s, was big guitar with distortion, big drums and singers wailing away.


Sometimes I think people think of "Classic Rock" in the same manner as something turning "antique" age. Like Icetech saying what he/she said about the 80s. The 80s are 30 years+ back. It's now, "classic" simply by age.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I kind of like this defintion but in my opinion it also has holes. As I commented in the beginning after watching the movie it really left me hanging with no real definition.


As others imply, songs never really move into the "Classic Rock" category the way, say, cars technically become "classics" after 25 years. Classic Rock is essentially a "closed" genre defined one of three ways:

What is played on Classic Rock Radio stations (yes, this is a circular definition but probably the most useful and accurate one).
By time period. "Progressive" radio (not closely related to prog music) arose in the late '60s, spawned Album Oriented Rock, spawned Classic Rock. As Lee and others have said, these songs and artists were largely incompatible with new wave, punk, and later grunge and hip-hop. So a reasonable working definition for classic rock playlists becomes "well-known songs by album-focused rock artists recorded between 1967 and 1984".* Of course given this definition it would be impossible for a song to "age into" the category.
By what it is not. Lots of music came out on albums during the time period defined, while only a few hundred songs have managed to enter the "classic rock canon". Classic rock is not, generally speaking, solo singer-songwriter music, AM pop radio hits, African-American driven music including Disco, atypical cuts from artists, New Wave or punk-influenced music, or music by artists whose careers significantly pre-dated the classic rock era. Of course, there are notable exceptions to each of these claims.

* (Interestingly, Sirius radio divides its classic rock programing between the LP era (Classic Vinyl) and the Cassette era (Classic Rewind)).
 

Mustion

Senior Member
I kind of like this defintion
That's a really good explanation man.
Classic Rock is amazing since (at least as defined by the CR station I listened to as a teen, Cleveland's WNCX) it can lump together Sabbath, Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, and Rush--all distinct sounding and easily identified with specific and fairly disparate genres--under one label.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
The Pandora app on my smart phone has , 60's rock, 70's rock, 80's rock, 90's rock and then 2 channels of Classic Rock, one called deep dive . I am trying to figure out that title.
 
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