From now until the 25th, every day we will celebrate Gen X Christmas on all of our social media sites. We will look back at the Christmas related music videos, films, TV episodes, and specials from our youth. There will also be some holiday blogs coming out on this site as well.
Does your family have a special film that you always watched during the holiday season? Do you have a favorite Christmas episode? Is there a favorite album of yours from the Gen X era that is now a Christmas staple in your household?
Let’s kick this off with the 1987 rap classic, Christmas In Hollis by Run DMC. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
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 it also represented our era and the two scenes in Back to the Future that features 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.
Grease 2, the sequel to the 1978 blockbuster was released on this day, June 11, back in 1982. The opening of this film however took a back seat to another film released on the same day. A little film that you might have head about that was directed by Steven Spielberg called E.T.
E.T. went on to become the highest-grossing film of the decade and knocked off Star Wars as the all-time box office champ. Grease 2 made a small profit with 15 million at the box office against a 12 million dollar budget. The film also opened to mostly bad reviews.
Grease 2 found a bigger audience on pay cable stations like HBO, Showtime, and The Movie Channel. The film also found a Gen X audience who many were too young to really appreciate the first film when it came out in 1978. Another big impact on Gen X can be summed up in two words: Michelle Pfeiffer.
Many a young Gen Xer fell in love with Pfeiffer who was playing a female version of the John Travolta role in the first film. Her co-star Matthew Caulfield played the clean-cut cousin of Olivia Newton John’s Sandy. Pfeiffer had been in a few movies before Grease 2, but this was her first starring role. She made a bigger splash the following year with her role as Al Pachino’s girlfriend in Scarface. By the end of the decade, she was one of the most in-demand leading ladies in film.
Were you a fan of the movie? Did you have a favorite song or musical sequence from the film?
Private Dancer, the fifth studio album by Tina Turner was released on this day back in 1984. The record was a huge success and kicked off a resurgence in Turner’s career.
The album peaked at #3 on the album charts and went on to sell over twenty million copies. It contained the hit singles, Let’s Stay Together, BetterBe Good to Me, Private Dancer, and her only #1 hit, What’s Love Got to Dowith It.
Turner had been a solo artist since 1976 when she left her husband and duo partner, Ike Turner. Prior to the release of Private Dancer, she was playing mostly clubs and hotel ballrooms. The album’s success led to Turner going on an area tour that lasted from February to December of 1985.
A number of artists, who like Turner, became well known in the sixties made comebacks in the eighties. Acts like The Kinks, The Moody Blues, and The Monkees all had hits for the first time in years. No other comeback led to the level of Superstardom as Tina Turner’s did.
On this day in 1987, U2 released their album, The Joshua Tree. It was their biggest selling album of all time and went on to sell over 25 million copies. The record went to #1 in over twenty countries and was the fastest-selling album in British history.
The album contained several U2 classic hits. With or Without You and I StillHaven’t Found What I’m Looking For, both went to #1 and are the band’s only hits that topped the singles chart in America. Where the Streets HaveNo Name was also a top forty hit and In God’s Country gets frequent airplay to this day on Classic Rock radio.
The Joshua Tree won the Grammy for Album of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. It is listed as one of the greatest albums of all time by many critics and was selected by The US Recording Registry for preservation as The Library of Congress deemed it culturally, and historically significant.
U2 were already major stars before the album was released, but it certainly took them to another level. If you were a fan of the album, what was your favorite song? Why also do you think this album made such an impact at the time that it was released in the late eighties?
The number one song in America this week back in 1982 was Physical by Olivia Newton-John. The song spent 10 weeks at the top spot from November 21, 1981 to January 23, 1982. It was also Billboard’s number one song of the year as well as being the top song of the decade.
Physical was Newton-John’s biggest hit. It was her fifth and final #1 on the Hot 100. The song also reached the top spot in five other countries. It was also a cross over hit and went to #28 on the American R&B charts.
The song was originally intended for Rod Stewart. It was also offered to Tina Turner who took a pass on it. With its suggestive lyrics and controversial music video, Physical forever changed the squeaky clean image that Newton-John has had since bursting on the music scene in the early seventies.
As we welcome in 2020, we say goodbye to 2019, the last year of the 2010s. Since this was the last year of the decade, all this month on our social media sites, we looked back at the last year of the eighties, 1989.
1989 looked much different than 1980 did in regards to TV. Most of Generation X can probably remember their family or others they knew who still had antennas on top of their TV or their roofs in the early eighties. Only 17 million homes in America had cable TV in 1980, by 1989, that number was at 50 million.
Another significant change was the fact that if we missed a show on TV, we no longer had to wait for the summer reruns in order to watch it. Video Cassette Recorders were the norm in households by the end of the decade. Not only could you record your favorite show, but you also could rent a movie at the local video store, or at your neighborhood grocery store. The video revolution also included making your own videos. By 1989, some younger Gen Xers had much of their early childhood recorded on the family VHS camcorder.
When it came to recorded music, audio cassettes were at their peak in the mid and late 80s. This was due in part to the popularity of The Walkman and boom boxes. Although Compact Disc came out in 1983, they did not outsell cassettes until the early 90s.
For broadcast TV, sitcoms ruled the small screen. The Cosby Show and Roseanne tied for the #1 show of the year. 8 of the top ten shows for the year were sitcoms.
When it came to movies in 1989, The most anticipated film of the year was Batman. The summer blockbuster earned over $411 million and became the highest-grossing movie in North America for the year. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was the worldwide #1 film of the year and Batman was #2.
Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel was the #1 albums of the year. Look Away by Chicago was Billboards #1 song of 1989. This is despite the fact that it never hit #1 in 89 but did top the charts in Dec of 88. The debut album of Garth Brooks was released in 1989 and Country Music was never the same again.
What were your fave TV shows, movie or music of 89?
It’s been New Wave November on our blog and social media sites this month and since today is the last day of the month, we want to go out on a high note. We will do just that by introducing you, or re-introducing some of you to a great New Wave/Power Pop band out of Atlanta, GA called The Producers.
The band released two albums on Portrait Records in the early eighties. The debut album was self-titled and was released in 1981. The follow-up, You Make the Heat came out in 82. She Sheila from that album went to #48 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.
Although the band never hit the top 40, they did have success on an upstart cable channel that also premiered in 1981. Music videos for She Sheila, What’s He Got and a few other songs got airtime on MTV in the very early days of that station. They also appeared on MTV’s New Year’s Rockin Eve in 1982.
The band was dropped from Portrait Records after the second album. They released a third album on an indie label but was back to the major leagues with MCA for their fourth album, Coelacanth. Before that album was released, the band was let go from MCA as part of a label purge in 1989.
The Producers “retired” in 1991, but they still get back together for shows every once in a while. If they come to your town, check them out for sure. They were a band that created great music and every New Wave and Power Pop fan should know who they are and know their music. Take a few minutes and watch the videos below and we think you will agree with us!
In June of 1981, a few months before the premiere of MTV, The USA Network started airing a late-night weekend variety show called Night Flight. The show featured music videos, cult and B movies, music-themed documentaries, animation, stand up comedy and a program that is now somewhat legendary among the early shows of cable, New Wave Theater.
Originally airing on KSCI in Los Angeles, the show featured LA-based New Wave, Punk and underground bands and artists. Well known acts such as X, The Blasters, Fear, The Circle Jerks, 45 Grave, and The Dead Kennedys appeared on the show. It was hosted by musician and songwriter Peter Ivers.
New Wave Theater usually aired during the last hour block of Night Flight. With that late time slot, Iver’s offbeat monologues, and the public access look about the program, you truly did get a feeling that this was underground television being piped into homes all across the nation via this new thing called cable tv. It truly brought the LA alternative scene to folks who previously could only read about it in music magazines.
Sadly the show came to an end with the death of Peter Ivers. He was found bludgeoned to death in his apartment on March 3, 1983. The case remains unsolved to this day.
When music historians and writers talk about the history of New Wave, the mid-seventies scene at CBGB’s night club in New York will always come up. Bands like Talking Heads, Television and Blondie will always be mentioned, and rightfully so. Some will even go back further and bring up names like The Velvet Underground, The Modern Lovers, and The New York Dolls. Anytime you talk about the history of New Wave it should be mandatory that you also have to talk about the first album from The Cars which was released on June 6, 1978.
The band and legendary producer Roy Thomas Baker created a masterpiece that fused rock, pop and synthesizers that perhaps more so than any other record set the tone for the early 80’s new wave heyday. The self-titled debut featured three singles, two of which hit the top forty. All three songs, while never going any higher than #27 on the singles charts in America all became classics. Just what I needed, My Best Friend’s Girl and Good Times Roll have never left the airwaves becoming staples of album-oriented and classic rock radio.
Three other songs, You’re All I Got Tonight, Moving in Stereo, and Bye Bye Love, while never being released as singles also became mainstays on rock radio. The eighties classic film Fast Times at Ridgemont High featured Moving in Stereo in a memorable scene featuring Phoebe Cates and Judge Reinhardt. The album went on to become six times platinum.
The Cars should be in the mix of every true New Wave fans music collection. The album was ahead of its time then and still sounds fresh forty-one years later.
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