"From the Desert to the Sea, to All of Southern California." - Jerry Dunphy

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Thursday, May 8, 2008


Where were you when the music died in 1980? I was driving home south on Van Nuys Blvd. to our apartment on Chandler Blvd. So many years have passed that I don’t remember where I had been, but I remember hearing Don McLean’s “America Pie” come on the radio and having the words finally sink in. KHJ Boss Radio was going off the air to be replaced by the Urban Cowboy and his posse.

By this time I was like so many others listening to FM radio for the extended playlists and lack of small talk and commercials. Still it was like the guilt you feel after hearing an old friend you hadn’t gone to see in so many years had died. The song and the moment brought back a flood of memories from the summer of 1966 when I was swept away by the Beatles, Rock and Roll and Boss Radio. I also remembered that our band used to play American Pie at every gig. The song had just been released and like so many other bands we had to learn it to survive. I didn't like the song back then. It didn’t have a Rock and Roll beat and I wanted no part of it. It’s only redeeming value being it was a good easy song to play while checking out the girls in the crowd.

As I took the long turn from Van Nuys Blvd. to Chandler Blvd. the song finished and the switch to country music came squawking out of my speakers. I turned it off and coasted the rest of the way home. I probably went upstairs and turned on the stereo as I lay in bed. I remember thinking this was the first time I had really listened to the song and I came to appreciate it over the following years.

Later that year I was sitting at home watching a Monday Night football game when the news came on that John Lennon had been murdered in New York City. I realized at once that this time the music really had died and not just gone away. I got up out of my chair, grabbed my dogs leash and motioned for her to come to me. I could not talk. We went outside for a long walk and some air. I wandered up and down the street but it didn’t help. 1980 took away more things than it gave us.

I greeted the New Year as best I could. But a few months in 1981 took away my real life hero, and the man who made music such an important part of my life, my Dad. It hasn’t been as joyful since. The happy major chords of youth gave way to the mournful minor chords of real life.

This post is dedicated to Pam who also lost her hero that night in December of 1980.


Rebecca Camarena said...

How about the death of KMET radio? KMET, that was the coolest station ever.

Guitar Rat said...

KMET was also great. I forget now why I listened to KLOS more on the FM side. Wasn't Mary Turner on KMET? I used to really like her.