Just the Facts of Alternative Music
Ten Clues of the Genre’s Legacy
Alternative Music has been around for over 30 years now and has become an institution within Rock music. First seen as part of the fringe in Rock, the term has become a staple selling genre for record companies. The movement has inspired subcultures devoted to the sound and made Rock Stars and Legends.
Here are 10 clues as to why the genre has become such staple of Rock History:
David Bowie is renowned around the world for his music and personas. Many people know the name and can related to his amazing career in music. Did you know that his real name is David Jones, and he went originally by Davy Jones? He ended up changing his name to avoid to confusion Davy Jones from The Monkee’s and came up with David Bowie in recognition to the American explorer David Bowie and his Bowie Knife.
The Ramones have become one of the most influential bands to come out of Punk Rock and helped define Alternative. But the band’s name came from of one of Rock’s most famous mainstream groups. The bass player Dee Dee came up with the name when he heard that Paul McCartney from the Beatles used to call himself Paul Ramone as alias for checking into hotels.
Another landmark Punk Rock group, The Sex Pistols, who influenced the shaping of Alternative is responsible for playing one of the most seminal concerts ever, ranking up there with Woodstock. It happened at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England. Some of the attendees were people who started bands like The Smiths, Joy Division, and the Buzzcocks. The kicker is that it was only a small show with around 30 to 40 people attending, yet many claim as being there.
Siouxsie and the Banshees was a famous British group from the 80’s and 90’s, a major influence of the Goth movement. Their debut performance happened in 1976 with one of their original members being the infamous Sid Vicious, who later joined The Sex Pistols. Their entire debut performance consisted of a 20-minute rendition of the Lord’s Prayer.
The Smiths were another seminal British group in the 80’s, fronted by Alternative’s most famous crooner Morrissey. The band recorded one of their most beloved ballads “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” for their album The Queen is Dead. The song helped make the band famous, especially Morrissey; however, Morrissey has been quoted as saying that he didn’t think the song was strong enough to be included on the album.
Nirvana and its front-man Kurt Cobain were rocketed into fame and rock history with their hit single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” But the origin of the song resides in a misunderstanding between Cobain and his then girlfriend, Kathleen Hanna, lead singer for the Riot Grrrl band Bikini Kill. She spray-painted the phrase “Kurt smells like teen spirit’ on his wall, referring to the popular deodorant at the time. Cobain wasn’t aware of the brand and believed it was a clever anti-establishment call to action.
Lollapalooza has become the most famous music festival for Alternative Music. Originally organized as a farewell tour for Jane’s Addiction, Perry Farrell, lead singer for the band, came up with the name from a Three Stooges film. Perry remarks that at one point in the movie Moe says “this is a lollapalooza.” Perry has explained that he defines the word as meaning “someone or something special, excellent, or exceptional.”
Coming out the Riot Grrrl movement of the late 80’s and early 90’s, Sleater-Kinney would help to define alternative rock for the next several decades and slowly become a part of the pantheon of legendary Rock bands. But the band is named after an obscure freeway off-ramp in Lacy, Washington. Specifically, the Sleater Kinney Road, in Lacey, Washington; where signs for Interstate 5 exit number 108 proclaims its presence.
Coachella Festival in Southern California has become one of the most successful festivals of Alternative Rock. It wasn’t always that way. The second annual event had to be cancelled in 2000 and reschedule the following year in 2001 because the festival lost money the first year after selling tickets extremely cheap for $50.
Arcade Fire isn’t only a famous Alternative rock bank, but also the most successful Rock group coming out of Canada. For their second album Neon Bible, Arcade Fire bought a church called Petite Eglise in Farnham, Quebec to record the album. Their new recording studio was a 19th century brick church outside of Montreal that had just recently been repurposed as coffee shop before Arcade Fire bought it.
Images source: www.wikipedia.org
We’ve also include a Spotify playlist featuring artists and songs from the aforementioned as well as some of our favorites.