Classic rock is my era. Tonight, former DJs and staff at a bygone classic rock radio station and a classic rock band converged for an evening down memory lane.
Listener tastes change, corporations that own radio stations stare at the bottom line and want to be ahead of the demographic shift. Nothing lasts forever. KYYS lasted more than 15 years before it settled into radio history.
The 1970s and 1980s covered a unique time in broadcasting. Stations played cool music, and there was a lot of it. Program directors had more control over their music, the remotes were fun, the concert industry was thriving and incorporating mega stadium shows, and the jocks were memorable characters. If you’ve seen WKRP, you get the idea.
KY102 introduced a lot of us to a variety of musicians, influenced what albums we bought and concerts we attended. They entertained us, opened a world of music beyond the confines of AM radio and provided us a mojo. If you were in high school or college, stations like KY102 helped orient your compass.
There is an alumni group of former staff and listeners, they talk, remember and occasionally get together.
Last night they did all of those, and brought together a classic rock band who have roots in the area. It was quite the evening.
The Ozark Mountain Daredevils were formed in the early 1970s in southern Missouri. They were signed to A&M Records (Herb Alpert’s own label) and paired with British producer Glyn Johns. This was an odd pairing, Johns famously worked with The Who, Kinks and Beatles. The Daredevils were mainly a country-rock band. Somehow this blending of musical backgrounds worked.
Over the course of the decade, the Daredevils sold a goodly number of albums and scored a few hit singles including “Jackie Blue” in 1975. Coincidentally, the very first concert I ever attended was in 1975 to see the Daredevils.
By the end of the decade, the Daredevils has exhausted their fame, tried a new record label, but audience tastes and no record company support doomed the band.
Through the years they regrouped, released some live albums and compilations, lost some members, and occasionally played some concerts to their graying audience. In my opinion, the thing that always worked against them was whether they wanted to be a country-oriented band or a rock band. The Eagles faced the same challenge and became primarily a rock band. Poco, also struggled with their identity, had some success but couldn’t turn the corner like the Eagles.
When KY102 alums looked for a band for the reunion show, both Poco and the Daredevils were considered.
I don’t know who looked older, the radio alums, the Daredevils or me. It was a close contest. The venue looked like a geriatric ward of a hospital. I’ve never seen so many old, gray, hobbled people. I might have been one of the younger people there.
The thing we shared, all of us old geezers, was a common experience. Once upon a time, we were teenagers or twenty somethings, the world ahead of us, and a country past the Vietnam War and Watergate. Life was good, with the only looming threat was something called disco.
Every generation has their music, their style, their swagger. For one night, these old geezers had theirs back.