Queen, Hendrix, solidarity, Woodstock, grunge, folk. There are moments that marked the history of world music: outdoor live, but also performances in television studios that for one reason or another will be remembered as milestones.
There are events that are milestones in our history. And this is true for many fields, including music, where marriage with pop culture has allowed exodus and mass events that have marked the path of groups, but, more generally, of world music. If we look behind us, in fact, we could recognize characters (Hendrix? The Beatles? Miles Davis? Our Lucio Battisti?) Who fall into History with a capital ‘s’, or album (Bitches Brew?) That have a specific value in the career of an artist and an influence in a genre and therefore, like a synecdoche, in the whole that is, precisely, the Music.
But if we look behind us we will notice that it is above all festivals and concerts that have marked fantastic and historical moments, which are still spoken of today (and some try to repeat them or imitate them badly). The first that comes to mind, of course, is Woodstock, but there are many events, including television appearances, which can be considered real events.
The Beatles land on American TV (1964)
1964 was an important year for the Beatles: the Liverpool quartet, a world pop phenomenon, in fact, landed for the first time in the United States to conquer the New World. A landing that could only begin, before the live shows, with a guest in one of the leading programs on American television. And so, participation in the Ed Sullivan Show, the first American TV appearance, is one of the historic moments of world music. The program was one of the most viewed in the history of overseas TV with around 73 million people connected for a total of over 23 million homes:
Electric Bob Dylan at the Newport Festival (1965)
50 years have passed and Bob Dylan remains one of the greatest songwriters and musicians that history has given us. Author of albums and memorable songs, always in the odor of Nobel for literature for his texts and symbol of folk, Dylan is also remembered for the exhibition he held at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, when in protest against the bans of the organizers he decided to get on stage, amplified. Despite the acclaim of previous years, being on stage with an electric guitar caused criticism from the public since Maggie’s Farm, the first piece played on stage and it is said of Pete Seeger who tried to cut the cables, bringing Dylan not to set foot on that stage for the next 37 years. With his Fender Stratocaster, Bob Dylan brought rock to the folk festival par excellence.
Monterey Pop Festival (1967)
Two years before what would have been the symbolic meeting of the History of Rock, the Monterey Pop Festival took place, an event in which known and young names of high hopes performed, which from then on would have indelibly marked the history of world music. Two hundred thousand people, for three days that would have marked an important step for the hippie movement and could count on the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Ravi Shankar, Otis Redding. It was the lysergic period of rock and the perfect time to start an entire movement.
Woodstock was born to be a 3 days of peace and music, with a series of artists who would have made their fortune on that stage, and History. In August 1969, about 400 thousand people gathered to listen to some of those that will be remembered as icons of world rock and to live days of peace and brotherhood. The Festival, to which many artists were invited, had to remain a “provincial festival”, an event that would not have been able to accommodate what was the total influx of people.
The 6 months before the festival we spent learning how to organize ourselves to welcome a huge crowd, bearing in mind that we had planned 200 thousand people
This was stated by Michael Lang, one of the founders of the Festival, not keeping in mind that people would be officially double, not to mention that the standing of the figure touched a million people. On stage, however, came artists and bands like Jimi Hendrix (who performed in the psychedelic version – and became a must – of the American anthem), Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead (whose performance was not memorable at all), Joe Cocker, The Who and many others.
Isle of Wight Festival (1970)
The Isle of Wight Festival was born in 1968, at that time the lysergic and hippie era that saw in Woodstock one of the highlights of the world festival history. But the year after the historic edition of the rally, there was also held what would be the last edition of the Festival that was held precisely on the Isle of Wight. About 500,000 people flocked to see artists like Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, Leonard Cohen perform on stage. A festival that has remained historical for some single episodes: it was, in fact, the last English (and penultimate general) concert by Hendrix, who would die the month after the performance and the last European of the Doors with Jim Morrison who, instead, he would die in July of the following year. Ron Faulk, promoter of the event, said in September of that year: “This is the last Festival, it started as a beautiful dream but we lost control of it and now it’s a monster”.
Live Aid (1985)
In 1985 Bob Geldof and Midge Ure organized the Live Aid, which was one of the major concerts in the history of music. An event that took place in different locations around the world, bringing some of the major international artists to perform live on television to raise funds against the famine that was afflicting Ethiopia. The event saw 70 performances (including U2, Queen – whose performance was voted the most important ever -, David Bowie and Paul McCartney) for an audience that only added the Wembley stadium and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia to about 160 thousand people for a total of about one and a half billion viewers connected live. The Live Aid raised about $ 245 million for the cause and is now a cornerstone when it comes to live.
Nirvana – MTV Unplugged (1993)
In the early 1990s, MTV was the most common way to watch music on TV. In an age when Youtube was not even remotely predictable, the TV shared with the radio the realm of music, allowing one to see videos and live shows. And if we were to look back to find what is one of the iconic shows of those years, we could not stop to dwell on the recording that Nirvana made in the studios of the television station in 1993, and defined by many as one of the most poignant and memorable of the group and not only. Although the format had seen artists like Paul McCartney and Rem perform, it was the live of Kurt Cobain’s band that everyone remembers better. An exhibition that saw Cobain perform in pieces like ‘All Apologies’ and ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’ in addition to David Bowie’s covers of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ and ‘Oh, Me’ and ‘Lake Of Fire’ of Meat Puppets, among others. Pieces that have remained in the collective imagination and that form one of the most beloved lives in history. A few months later, on April 5, 1994, however, Cobain died at his Seattle home and was found only 3 days later by electrician Gary Smith.