Generations, Music

Eddie Van Halen

The world lost Eddie Van Halen this week. Generation X lost one of the main creators of its soundtrack. The guitar hero passed away on Tuesday at the age of 65 to what his son Wolfgang called “his long and arduous battle with cancer”

First wave Gen X rock fans first learned about Eddie via the release of Van Halen’s first album in 1978. The record introduced the world to his amazing guitar playing and his signature and often imitated two-handed tapping technique. The self-titled album which still sounds fresh and un-dated went on to sell 10 million copies and kicked off an almost two-decade run of platinum recordings.

The band quickly became the hottest new band in rock and was soon headlining their own tours. Eddie became well known to people outside of the rock world by way of his marriage to TV star and America’s sweetheart, Valerie Bertinelli. Mainstream superstardom came to the band with the release of 1982’s Diver Down which contained the hit cover of Roy Orbison’s Oh Pretty Woman.

By this time the band was America’s top rock act. They headlined the US Festival in 1983 and received over a million dollars for the performance. The band was our generation’s Led Zepplin. Eddie was our Jimi Hendrix. He also played the guitar solo on Beat It from the biggest selling album of the time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Soon a slew of bands hit the airwaves that all sounded somewhat similar to Van Halen. Most of these bands had guitar players who performed the tapping technique. Eddie’s red, white and black striped guitar called the Frankenstrat was the most recognized musical instrument of our generation. When Eddie started playing a Kramer guitar, other rock stars followed his lead. In fact, Kramer became the #1 guitar manufacturer for a time in the eighties.

The band’s stardom went to another level with the release of 1984 which featured the #1 classic Jump. When David Lee Roth left the band in 1985 and Sammy Hagar took over lead vocals, the band continued right along with hit after hit. The streak lasted almost two decades with the last top forty hit coming in 1995 with I Can’t Stop Loving you. The band created hits for the entire Gen X era of the late seventies to the mid-nineties.

Eddie Van Halen was not a member of Generation X. He was born in 1955, so that would make him a late boomer or an early member of Generation Jones, however you wish to label it. Although not one of our generational tribe, he never the less made a huge impact on us. When the news of his death broke, so many people, especially Xers took to social media to share their grief and shock of his untimely death. Many wrote about how he was a part of their childhood and teen years.

He had a huge musical influence on our generation. The tone of his guitar was one of the defining sounds of our generation. He was the gold standard of playing guitar in our era and to many, he still is. His sound was timeless but at the same time represented our era and the two scenes in Back to the Future that feature the sound and style of his playing solidifies that point.

The music made by Edward Lodewijk Van Halen will live forever on classic rock radio, YouTube, and by tribute bands playing bars and festivals all over the world. It will also live forever when a kid picks up a guitar and attempts to learn a riff from Unchained or Ain’t Talkin’ bout Love.

Thank you Eddie for the great music, the memories and for being part of the soundtrack of our lives.

Generations, TV

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day and we hope you had a great holiday weekend. Labor Day became an official federal holiday in the United States in 1894. For many of the Gen X kids who grew up in the seventies and eighties, there are two distinct generational memories associated with the day.

We all remember watching The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon. The show aired with Lewis as host from 1966 to 2011. At its peak, it aired on 213 stations around the country. In many of those markets, it aired on the biggest station in town. Often the local TV News anchors would put on tuxedos and ball gowns and host the local segments. You would also see local citizens on the phone banks and the town’s big wigs present a large check to the host. You might hear or see your name on TV if you called in and made a donation.

In our day, the telethon would come on at 9 pm Sunday and air until around 6:30 pm on Labor Day. When that tote board would appear with the final tally, it would mark the end of summer for many of us. A majority of our kids and grandkids now start the school year in August, but back in our era, the first day of school usually was the Tuesday after Labor Day.

For the kids who ruled the hallways, the ones who found refuge from troubled home life, or the students who truly loved school, there was excited anticipation in the air on Labor Day Night. For the bullied, ignored, unpopular or the kids who just planned struggled, the night was filled with dread and June could not come fast enough. For others, it was a drag because you could not watch The Price is Right at 11 am anymore.

What are your favorite memories of the telethon or the holiday?

Film, Generations, TV

May the 4th be with you!

It’s May 4th and this is the day that we celebrate Star Wars. The original film released in 1977 is by far the most important film of our generation. From the first film and the two sequels, and for all the toys, t-shirts, lunch boxes, and posters we purchased, there was never another film franchise in the Gen X era that came close to it in terms of profit or influence.

Here’s how some of us first found out about a new movie called Star Wars that would be hitting theaters soon. This is the original TV spot that aired in 1977.

Film, Generations

The top 25 Gen X films.

These are the essential 25 Gen X films that we feel every member of our generation should watch at some point in their lives. The list is made up of films that are about us and not just the biggest hits that came out during our era. That’s why you don’t see a Star Wars, Rocky, or Indiana Jones movie on the list. Tell us what you think about our choices and let us know if you think we missed a film.

Reality Bites

The Breakfast Club

Farris Bueller’s Day Off

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Risky Business

Pretty in Pink

16 Candles

The Karate Kid

Back to the Future

Heathers

Singles

Less Than Zero

Boyz n the Hood

Clerks

The Lost Boys

Weird Science

War Games

Red Dawn

Secret Admirer

Some Kind of Wonderful

Breakin

Better Off Dead

Foxes

Lucus

Generations

Who is Generation X?

Generation X by all accounts lies in between the Baby Boomers and Millennials. What is in question though, is exactly when does Gen X start and when does it stop. Gallop says 1965-1979. The Pew Research Center has it listed as 65-80 while the Harvard Center uses 1965 to 1984. We have even seen the first year listed as early as 1961!


For this site, we will agree with Gallop and start with 1965, but we will end in 1976. In the last few years, a new term called “Xennials” has been used to describe a micro-generation of folks born between the late seventies and early eighties. This group would be the middle ground between Gen X and the Millennials.

For this website, our main focus will be on media related to those whose childhood was mainly in the seventies, those who came of age in the eighties and the young adults in the nineties. We also understand and respect the fact that many folks who are considered Xennial refer to themselves as Gen X. We consider this group to be a sub generation of Gen X, so there will postings designed to reach this audience as well. If they prefer to call themselves Gen X, that is fine with us.

What do you think? Do you agree with the starting point being 1965 or should it go lower? Do you agree that Xennials are the middle ground between X and the Millennials and that there is a difference between the three?