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Page and Plant, Mick and Keith, Chris and who?
I was recently having a discussion about guitar players with somebody and it really got me thinking of something that I think has disappeared in music today; the lead singer/lead guitar player combination.
Back in the 60’s and 70’s and to a lesser extent the 80’s, rock music primarily consisted of the lead singer and lead guitar player. If you didn’t know the rest of the band that was ok, as long as you knew who the singer and guitar player were. The list including, Mick and Keith, Page and Plant, Daltrey and Townshend, Ozzy and Iommi, and so on. You probably recognize each of these musicians I just mentioned.
Fast-forward to today and let’s think about rock music and does any of this matter anymore? There really isn’t a new band in the last 5-10 years that has this kind of relationship. For example, most people know who Chris Martin from Coldplay is but do they ever think of guitarist Jonny Buckland or simply refer to Martin and Buckland?…definitely not. Granted rock music has changed and for the most part you don’t have music driven by major ripping solos, but still there is a guitarist, there is a singer. Chances are you don’t know who either one of them are. In fact, the only modern band I can think fitting the mold would be Oasis and they broke up years ago.
Why has the lead singer/lead guitarist phenomenon completely disappeared from rock music? There is the obvious reason, rock music has changed. To be in a modern band in rock music, you don’t need to have ripping solos, and if you do, they don’t last for over a minute much like they did in the 70’s and 80’s. I also think it’s the time period we are living in. We are constantly inundated with garbage popular music that has a single-serve purpose. It’s all about how much money can be made by a single track by a forgettable “artist”.
It’s feeding this new generation of people without attention spans. People really aren’t taking the time they did in the past to really digest bands and get to know and care about the artist. Artists don’t have a mystical quality they did years ago because of the internet and social media such as Twitter, Facebook etc. bridging the gap between the artist and the consumer.
The age of the lead singer/lead guitarist is over and let’s face it, the age of single-serve bubblegum pop stars has unfortunately taken over without an end in site.