What is Rock’s Greatest Year?

December 09, 2019 3 min read

Rolling Stones Live 1971

A few weeks ago, I read “1971 - Never a Dull Moment: Rock’s Golden Year” by David Hepworth.

In the book, Hepworth argues that 1971 was the most important year in rock history. According to the author, the rock landscape changed in those twelve months, with massive shifts at an industrial, social and cultural level. 

As a result, a huge number of monumental albums were released; The Stones’ “Sticky Fingers”, “Who’s Next” and “Led Zep IV” to name but a few. And, it was the year that a plethora of rock legends established their place in the pantheon of popular music.

Hepworth makes a compelling argument, and the book is a bloody good read (it took me less than a day to plough through its 384 pages; “unputdownable” as they say in the press!). But, while reading, it struck me that there are several other key years in rock history that could lay claim to the title of “rock’s most important.”

These were years in which the music went through profound shifts, years in which landmark records came out and bands that redefined not just music, but popular culture emerged. 

So, just for fun, I’ve compiled my cliff notes on several of rock’s key years below. For each of my picks, I’ve included key events, important albums and emerging acts.

 

1964

Rolling Stones VinylKey Events:

  • “The British Invasion”
  • The Beatles appear on the Ed Sullivan Show

Key Albums:

  • The Beatles: “A Hard Day’s Night”
  • The Rolling Stones: “The Rolling Stones”
  • The Kinks: “The Kinks”
  • Bob Dylan: “The Times they are a-Changin’”

Key Acts:

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Joan Baez, Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin

 

1967

Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced? Album CoverKey Events:

  • "The Summer of Love”
  • Monterey Pop Festival
  • The Human-Be In
  • The Rolling Stones and Doors appear on Ed Sullivan

Key Albums:

  • The Doors: “The Doors”
  • The Beatles: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band”
  • Jimi Hendrix Experience: “Are You Experienced?”
  • The Who: “Who Sell Out”
  • Cream: “Disraeli Gears”

Key Acts:

Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield

 

1969 

WoodstockKey Events:

  • Woodstock
  • “Easy Rider” Released
  • The Rolling Stones’ Free Concert in Hyde Park
  • Altamont

Key Albums:

  • The Rolling Stones: “Let it Bleed”
  • The Who: “Tommy”
  • Led Zeppelin: “Led Zeppelin/Led Zeppelin II”
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash: “Crosby, Stills, Nash”
  • The Beatles: “Abbey Road”

Key Acts:

Led Zeppelin, Crosby, Stills, Nash, Neil Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Rolling Stones

 

1973

Pink Floyd Dark Side of the MoonKey Events:

  • Mega-tours from Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin
  • “Don Kirshner’s” Rock Concert, “Midnight Special” and “King Biscuit Flower Hour first Broadcast”
  • David Bowie “retires” Ziggy Stardust

Key Albums:

  • Pink Floyd: “Dark Side of the Moon”
  • Deep Purple: “Made in Japan”
  • Elton John: “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
  • Paul McCartney and Wings: “Band on the Run”
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd: “Pronounced Leh-Nerd-Skin-Nerd”

Key Acts:

Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Paul McCartney

So, if I were to whittle it down, those would be my four contenders (five
alongside the aforementioned 1971). 

But I want to know what you guys think! What do you think is rock’s greatest year, and why? 

And, which key events in rock n’ roll history do you remember witnessing, and what impact did they have on you? 

As always share your thoughts, stories and opinions in the comments section. 








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