My formative music listening years were the days when classic rock was simply called rock! Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Bob Seger, Aerosmith and Bad Company were mainstays on Detroit Radio. I was a consummate listener. I memorized playlists. I maintained band bios. I transcribed lyrics (this was before the internet). What else does a geeky sheltered teenager have to do?
Some of the first records I bought were Elton John’s Greatest Hits, Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies and Led Zeppelin’s Song Remains the Same. I remember listening to Stairway to Heaven and being disappointed that it didn’t sound like what I had heard on the radio. I didn’t realize the Song Remains the Same was a live album when I purchased it. I learned to love the live version eventually.
I craved anything new. Even then, though not as bad as it is now, radio stuck to a formula which resulted in a lack of diversity. If you wanted to rock, you listened to the rock stations. Soft rock had its stations. Blues, pop, R&B, jazz, classical and disco all had their own stations. That was okay for me. I stuck to rock. Detroit’s 3 rock powerhouses: WRIF, WABX, and WWWW had just about enough for me. They stuck to their rotation during prime hours but they had specialty programs that allowed the DJ’s to play whatever they wanted after hours. That was when they let the gates blow off. I vaguely recall a program called ‘The Outer Limits’. It was a shallow taste of what I was about to hear. I had no idea of the vastness of the music universe until I moved to live in a town near Toronto. Between the college radio station that played anything and everything obscure to the ‘Spirit of Radio’ station in Toronto, I began to hear a whole new world of music. It was heaven for an avid listener.