FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME

TOP ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BANDS OF 1977 LAUNCH­ING NEW TOURS

Lethbridge Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Wayne Parry

Queen, For­eigner, Bos­ton, Aero­smith, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Billy Joel hit­ting the road

It’s more than a feel­ing: Many of the rock ‘n’ roll bands that were huge in 1977 will com­prise a big part of the sum­mer con­cert mar­ket 40 years later. Queen, For­eigner, Bos­ton, Aero­smith, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Billy Joel and Rod Ste­wart are among those launch­ing ma­jor tours this spring and sum­mer, even though some of them haven’t had a big hit since Jimmy Carter (or at least Ron­ald Rea­gan) was in of­fice.

Con­cert in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives say nos­tal­gia acts are still re­li­able sellers, with satel­lite and clas­sic rock ra­dio keep­ing their hits alive.

“The sim­ple an­swer is that good mu­sic is still good mu­sic,” said gui­tarist Tom Scholz, who founded Bos­ton and found im­me­di­ate star­dom with tracks that re­main sta­ples of clas­sic rock playlists in­clud­ing “More Than a Feel­ing,” “Peace of Mind,” “Long Time” and “Don’t Look Back.” “It’s pretty much still Bos­ton, as long as I’m alive, as long as I can stand up and play.”

To get a feel for how long ago that was, 1977 was the year that se­rial killer Son of Sam was ar­rested in New York, when Ge­orge Stein­bren­ner, Billy Martin and Reg­gie Jack­son turned the Yan­kees into a three-ring cir­cus, when “Star Wars” and “Satur­day Night Fever” packed the­atres, and when the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Pres­ley, died.

It was the year Kiss neared the zenith of its pop­u­lar­ity, with the “Love Gun” and “Alive II” al­bums. Fel­low shock rocker Alice Cooper scored huge air­play with an un­ex­pected or­ches­tral bal­lad, “You and Me.” Rod Ste­wart was on ev­ery rock and pop sta­tion with “Hot Legs,” “You’re in My Heart” and “I Was Only Jok­ing,” and scored the Bill­board No. 1 song of the year in “Tonight’s the Night.”

It’s eas­ier to list which songs on Joel’s 1977 al­bum “The Stranger” weren’t ma­jor hits than to list the ones that were. And For­eigner fol­lowed Bos­ton’s suc­cess of a year ear­lier to be­come the new overnight sen­sa­tion with a de­but al­bum that sold four mil­lion copies, pow­ered by clas­sics like “Feels Like the First Time” and “Cold As Ice.”

“I never could have imag­ined when I set out to cre­ate For­eigner 40 years ago, that we’d still be tour­ing around the world and per­form­ing the mu­sic we love all these years later,” said gui­tarist and found­ing mem­ber Mick Jones.

“I can’t ex­press the grat­i­tude I feel when fans share sto­ries of how our songs have been wo­ven into their mile­stones and mem­o­ries over the years.”

That’s a big part of why clas­sic rock bands re­main re­li­able draws on the con­cert cir­cuit, said Gary Bon­gio­vanni, editor of the con­cert in­dus­try pub­li­ca­tion Poll­star.

“The au­di­ence that grew up on rock ‘n’ roll are still rock ‘n’ roll fans,” he said. “They still want to see these acts, whether they have a new record or not. That’s a big part of the con­cert business.”

And fans are for­giv­ing (or some­times obliv­i­ous) of lineup changes. The orig­i­nal singers for Bos­ton and Queen died, For­eigner vo­cal­ist Lou Gramm left in 2003, and Kiss’s orig­i­nal lineup last toured in 2000.

Aero­smith is the most un­likely band of sur­vivors, given its mem­bers’ his­tory of drug use. Yet they’re still out there with all five orig­i­nal mem­bers. “Any­time I can go see Aero­smith, I will go,” said Queen gui­tarist Brian May.

“I love to take my kids to let them see what it was re­ally like to be in a rock con­cert and have that spon­tane­ity and dan­ger and pas­sion. It’s not mapped out; it’s all hap­pen­ing right in front of your eyes. It’s a live tra­di­tion and I’m proud to have been a part of that.”

In this April 5 file photo, Billy Joel per­forms in con­cert for the grand re-open­ing of the Nas­sau Coli­seum in Union­dale, N.Y.

In this July 3, 2014 file photo, Mick Jones of the band For­eigner per­forms dur­ing the Sound­track of Sum­mer Tour 2014 in Cam­den, N.J.

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