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A noble try to clarify a few of rock’s weirder traditions and behaviours – Nationwide

On the final Wednesday in August, the nice residents of Buñol, Spain, collect in the principle sq. to throw tomatoes at one another. Nobody is solely positive why, both. All most individuals care about is that it’s enjoyable to pelt buddies and strangers with tomatoes, so the La Tomatina Pageant grew to become an annual factor. (For the document, it appears so far again to about 1945, when there was some type of brawl that devolved into the throwing of fruit and veggies.)

Talking of throwing issues: In Denmark, single folks aged 25 are doused with cinnamon by family and friends on Valentine’s Day. Nobody is aware of why aside from it’s all the time been a factor. Similar factor with tossing new child infants off the 50-foot Sri Saneswar Temple in India. The tykes are caught by folks holding a giant material under. It’s simply custom, the origins and functions of which have disappeared into historical past.

Rock music has been round lengthy sufficient to have its personal inexplicable traditions and behaviours. Let’s have a look at a couple of.

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Holding lighters aloft at concert events

We’ve all been to a present the place sooner or later folks maintain lighters (and now cellphones) within the air through the gig. The place did that come from?

The reply goes again to the Toronto Rock’n’Roll Revival, a one-day live performance held at Varsity Stadium in Toronto on Sept. 13, 1969. John Lennon was a last-minute addition to the lineup, impetuously deciding to play his first-ever present exterior The Beatles. Lennon was nervous to the purpose of being sick, so MC Kim Fowley urged the gang to create a cool and peaceable vibe by bringing out their matches and lighters to show the stadium right into a blissful candlelit panorama.

It labored. Lennon got here out, performed his set with Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band, and went again to the U.Okay. to announce he was completed with The Beatles. We’ve been bringing forth fireplace (or not less than gentle) at reveals ever since.

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The “Freebird!” Man

Chances are high you’ve been to some present the place somebody insists on yelling “Freebird!” as a extremely inappropriate request at a non-Lynyrd Skynyrd present. Why?

Blame Kevin Matthews, a Chicago radio DJ who had a working bit the place he’d encourage his listeners — often known as Kevheads — to yell “Freebird” at any live performance, regardless of who was onstage. And so it started. The Chicago Symphony, Florence Henderson (the mother from The Brady Bunch) and Jim Nabors all needed to endure the calls for due to Kevheads. You possibly can nonetheless hear these calls at present nearly anyplace, be it at a efficiency of Mamma Mia and even at a hockey sport.

Umlaut bands

You realize the type: Mötley Crüe, Queensrÿche and, in fact, Motörhead. “Rock dots,” as they’re typically recognized, are Swedish and German in origin and technically often known as a “diacritic,” which is a kind of accent. Why would anybody use them? As a result of they appear cool, overseas, Gothic and unique.

So far as we all know, the primary band to make use of umlauts/rock dots on this method was Blue Öyster Cult for no objective aside from it appeared like enjoyable. They could have been impressed by Amon Düül, a psychedelic band from the ’60s who had been, in truth, very German. We are able to additionally embrace the American hardcore band Hüsker Dü — besides that they use umlauts accurately. “Hüsker Dü” is definitely Swedish for “Do you bear in mind?”

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Lengthy hair for male rock followers

Lengthy hair on males has gone out and in of fashion over the centuries and was typically the goal of scorn. In 1842, The London Saturday Journal wrote: “Many vagrants are musicians, but it surely doesn't observe that each one musicians are vagrants. It's anticipated of musicians these days to put on lengthy hair as an appendage to their expertise.” An extended screed in opposition to lengthy hair adopted.

Quick-forward to the Nineteen Thirties, Forties and Nineteen Fifties, when brief hair was culturally enforced. White males who didn’t hold issues trim had been thought-about all the pieces from effeminate to subversive to unhygienic. However then alongside got here rock ‘n’ roll within the Nineteen Fifties and its rebellious attitudes, expressions of private freedom and new trend types. Lengthy hair signalled a person’s membership within the new counterculture, societal pushback be damned.

After The Beatles and their moptops, tresses on males started flowing longer and longer. This continued till the punk backlash of the center Seventies when lengthy hair was thought-about an outmoded hippie attribute. Nonetheless, lengthy (or not less than longish) hair on males continues at present, even when meaning such unlucky types because the mullet.


Any steel present options members of their viewers violently shaking their heads in time with the music. How did that change into a factor?

This isn't a brand new factor. If we go method again into music historical past, the same exercise was related to Islamic music within the Sufi custom. Qawwali music from India, Pakistan and Iran has additionally employed headbanging-like actions. Each will be traced again centuries and are associated to worshippers falling into trance-like states.

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Fashionable headbanging may need begun with Jerry Lee Lewis and his behavior of flicking the curls off his face as he pounded on his piano. It grew to become one thing of a signature transfer so followers started to mimic him.

Perhaps we are able to level to a 1969 North American tour by Led Zeppelin the place followers — particularly punters at some reveals in Boston over a number of nights that January — had been seen banging their heads on the stage in time with the music.

Shifting deeper into the Seventies, the identical behaviour was seen at Black Sabbath reveals, AC/DC gigs and Motörhead performances. In reality, Lemmy preferred to take credit score for the time period itself, saying that it was derived from the sight of individuals “Motörheadbanging” at their concert events.

Stage diving

There are two sorts of stage diving. The primary is when a performer leaps off the stage into the gang. The second is when a member of the viewers clambers up onstage and dives again into the gang. Let’s start with the previous.

The primary rock performer to leap into the gang may need been Jim Morrison of The Doorways, who's reported to have gone airborne from the stage between 1967 and 1969. The primary really documented stage diver must be Iggy Pop, who was making it a daily observe throughout reveals with The Stooges by 1969.

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As for viewers members entering into the act, the primary documented crowd collaborating in stage diving dates again to Aug. 8, 1964, when followers had been leaping off the stage at a Rolling Stones present within the Netherlands. That’s so way back that nobody was calling it “stage diving” but.

Lastly, an unsolved thriller: The particular viewers participation lyrics with Billy Idol’s Model of Mony Mony

I can’t repeat them right here, however at any time when somebody performs Billy Idol’s rendition of Tommy James’ Mony Mony, the gang will erupt with a profane chant that continues usually all through the tune. There are slight variations within the chant based mostly on geography (Ontario is totally different from Colorado, which is totally different from Texas, which is separate from what they chanted within the U.Okay.) however nobody has ever labored it out. I’ve completed some severe examine into this pre-internet meme however I’ve by no means been capable of finding an evidence of the place it got here from or the way it unfold across the globe. I’ve even put the query to Idol himself and he claims to do not know.

Some other questions?

Alan Cross is a broadcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for International Information.

Subscribe to Alan’s Ongoing Historical past of New Music Podcast now on Apple Podcast or Google Play


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