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Great Moments in Popular Music Overlooked by The o2

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by Chris Henniker (subscribe)
There are 6m postcodes in London, what's happening in yours?
Published January 17th 2014
Chess Records / Wikimedia Commons


Looking at the o2's hoarding that shows highlights in popular music, the more knowledgeable amongst us realise there are quite a few milestones missing. Let's have a look at them.

As you exit North Greenwich Tune station, the tale starts in 1951 with Frank Sinatra playing The Desert Inn. What it doesn't tell you is that Ike Turner played guitar on the first rock'n'roll record ever. In that same year, Jackoie Brenston & The Delta Cats recorded "Rocket 88", setting in motion the link between hot guitar licks and hot wheels that continues to this day, even in the hip hop that celebrates Donks.

Seven years later, these hoardings ignore the fact that Link Wray recorded "Rumble", introducing the power chord that shaped surf rock, garage rock, punk and heavy metal. Black metal wouldn't exist without it. 1959 brings Berry Gordy's Mowtown records, but the first soul record was recorded in New York by The Falcons that same year.

Moving into the 1960's, it starts with Beatlemania in 1963. However, they conveniently ignore that the first psychedelic band was a Texas outfit called The 13th Floor Elevators. Sgt Pepper would only be a corporal if it was wasn't for Roky Erickson. The fact Erickson was busted for possessing one spliff, pleaded insanity and got ECT was important enough to show how people suffer for their craft.

As the 1960's ends with Woodstock, these hoardings ignore the darker moments of pop music history. The Altamont riot In which Meredith Kircher was murdered by the Hells Angels, bringing the hippy dream into disrepute, along with a small time crook and aspiring folkie who ordered the death of Gary Hinman, a musician and hippie. There is a theory that this petty crook was after Terry Melcher, who rejected him on grounds of lack of talent. The aspiring folkie's name? Charles Manson.

The hippy dream In tatters, it lazily brings us onto punk and glam rock. Yet these hoardings ignore that Krautrock bands like Can were rejecting the blues & R&b to shape new sonic territory that has influenced pop today. Where would Jesse J be without their motorik rhythms? Without Krautrock's English Heirs, Throbbing Gristle, you'd have nothing like Dubstep or noise music.

Going back to punk, these hoardings gloss over the fact The Ramones formed in 1973 , but the first punk records were recorded in the 1960's by The Seeds and bands that would be called "garage". Crass were not even mentioned at all; they invented anarcho-punk. The Sex Pistols meant anarchy as a joke, Crass meant it!

As we move into the 1980's, Acid House and Post-punk developments are given short shrift or superficial mention. For instance, it mentions Metallica's "Kill 'Em All" but ignores that Venom were inventing black metal. Indeed, pop music is too big to put in one narrative, but the 1990's are just a bland out.

At that time Nirvana and their ilk are absorbed into the mainstream, but notable events in that decade overlooked the death of GG AlLin, the biggest degenerate in rock'n'roll history.

As you reach the o2's entrance, you feel that as you approach the present day, you weren't given the full picture. Where were the underground movements mentioned? When they are co-opted into the music industry, of course.

One glaring error: "2003: Beyoncé Knowles and the triumph of R&B." Wrong! It triumphed in 1951 with Jackie Branston & The Delta Cats playing "Rocket 88".
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Where: The o2 / Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX, United Kingdom
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