Although there are no official statistics on the subject, I think it’s safe to say that today’s adults (regardless of their proudly asserted musical tastes) first got into music thanks to hard rock. This assumption is therefore also valid for parents who have turned away from the long hair and hard rock music of their youth, and replaced these with something more mature. But press play on a few timeless hard rock hits and you’ll soon see them chucking themselves into an air-guitar session before admitting that there is still nothing better than Kiss and AC/DC. And they’re totally right.
Adolescence is where freedom begins, where we develop tastes that contradict those of previous generations, and the time where both hair and clothing revolt. It’s the time when you have a crazy amount of energy and begin to learn the values of love, friendship, envy, hope, and anger. In the most direct way, hard rock is the perfect response to this spike in hormones as it is the most accessible form of rock. Explosive guitar riffs, choruses to be shouted at the top of your lungs, simple lyrics, extravagant looks that speak freedom, and stars of the genre giving pyrotechnic concerts – all the ingredients are there to speak to young people, in the same way that rap or pop vie for the attention of the kids.
Born in the 60s after rock, blues, Jimi Hendrix and The Who, hard rock literally exploded in the 70s in the UK and the USA. Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Aerosmith paved the way for a fever that spread to the general public via ever more accessible and melodic bands such as Queen, AC/DC, Scorpions, Van Halen, and Kiss. The explosion of FM radio attracted some of them in the 80s, and they became just as much mega-stars as the pop stars of the day. The 90s marked the end of this golden age, with teenage revolt finding a new home in grunge, whilst rap and techno attracted others. As for hard rock, it would find itself jostling with metal as it shares fans and has much in common.
Much more than simply being a nostalgic cuddly toy that brings you back to your childhood, hard rock is still alive and well and is a genre that the whole family can enjoy, something I once witnessed at a big festival. As well as there being a great audience atmosphere, it wasn’t rare to see two generations of the same family sharing the same passion for this or that band. For hard rock remains a music of great simplicity and diversity, so sheltered from changing trends that it now seems timeless and eternal. So it’s worth looking into some of the genre’s classics, all of them melodious and sweet.