By Trey Brooks


One of the fastest growing radio formats throughout the early 2000s was classic rock.  The umbrella term covered psychedelic, punk, folk, hard, heavy metal, progressive and alternative artists from the 60s, 70s and 80s (and later, the 90s).  The format’s growth was due to several factors, mainly the growth of cable television that introduced older bands to younger audiences, and the rise of groups such as the White Stripes who took influence from 70s era rock.  Classic rock highlighted the works of such acclaimed artists as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Who, Pink Floyd and other members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  However, it also reintroduced such forgotten bands as Jethro Tull, Free, Bad Company, Mountain and many others who ruled AM radio.  As the decade turned, the format fell behind as rock failed to gain new steam going forward.  However, in its heyday, classic rock helped spawn reunion tour after reunion tour, and gave new life to old artists.

This spring, classic rock will invade Tuscaloosa in full force.  Two major shows will feature four artists who ruled classic rock radio.  First on May 29th, Styx and Foreigner will play together, joined by former Eagles guitarist Don Felder.  Then on July 18th, Peter Frampton joins the Doobie Brothers for a show at the Amp.  All four were vastly successful throughout out the 70s and into the 80s.  Thanks to classic rock radio, they have also gained new fans in younger generations.

The journeys of these bands each tell wonderful stories.  Styx, with Dennis DeYoung’s vocals and Tommy Shaw’s guitar, toed the line between ambitious stories, beautiful ballads and driving rock songs.  In fighting destroyed the band in the 80’s, and the new group doesn’t include DeYoung, but still delivers the high-energy stage show the original group was known for.  Their tour-mates Foreigner also know the feeling of a breakup due to infighting.  After their first two albums, Foreigner was on pace to be one of the greatest selling artists of all-time.  However, the quick fame and fighting after the ballad “I Wanna Know What Love Is” sent the group in a softer direction, Foreigner broke up at the height of their popularity.  Still, they are recognized by many hard rock and heavy metal bands as creating some of the best hard radio hits of AM era.  Together, these bands produced countless hits.  It will surely be special to hear “Juke Box Hero” and “Renegade” in the same show.

None of these groups has changed members like the Doobie Brothers have.  No two albums ever featured the exact same lineup.  However, the constant change kept the material varied, giving the Doobies some of the greatest variety among 70’s rock heavyweights. “China Grove”, “Black Water”, “Listen to the Music” and “Jesus Is Just Alright” were just some of their many radio hits.  Peter Frampton Comes Alive! was one of the hallmark albums of the 70s.  Frampton was a guitar virtuoso, even using it to talk, and created a monster with his debut album.  Though his run of hits was short-lived, he is still known for his ability on guitar.

Classic rock helped reignite the careers of many artists.  Seeing these bands come to Tuscaloosa is a tremendous opportunity to relive some of the best music from the 70s and 80s.  Moreover, it puts T-Town in the middle of a movement that hopefully will continue despite rock’s absence from top 40 radio as of recent.  For now, locals can relive some incredible moments when these four bands come to town.  Both shows are bound to deliver.

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