A growing number of young adults are making room on their iPods for the music of The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles — artists who began recording before they were born.
Mike Evansfield is one of them.
The 21-year-old ASU student rummages through stacks of vinyl at Zia Records in Tempe on a recent Sunday afternoon before his eyes light up as they target “a must-have record.”
Evansfield, dressed in a faded blue The Who T-shirt, worn-out jeans and black Van’s, holds up Bob Dylan’s 1986 album “Knocked Out Loaded,” which he says he can’t wait to add to his classic rock collection.
“I think a lot of people my age are bored with what’s on the radio and MTV because our musical tastes are maturing,” he says, running a hand through his wavy brown hair. “Now there are more outlets to discover music. We’re able to surf through a large selection of what’s out there and find something that strikes a chord with us thanks to iTunes and satellite radio.”
Evansfield, who says he prefers artists such as Dylan to Rob Thomas, AC/DC to The White Stripes and Joy Division to The Killers, isn’t alone.
According to the radio-ratings company Arbitron, 9 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 listened to classicrock radio — music from the early 1960s to the late ’70s — in any given week in 2005 with a total of 2.3 million teens tuning in each week.
Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture at New York’s Syracuse University, credits the 2003 Jack Black film “School of Rock” with jump-starting the trend.
“I remember talking to a 9-year-old who had seen the movie and went on a CD buying spree and put together a CD collection that looked like a teenager from 1975 might have had,” he says of the film and its soundtrack, which included music from Cream, The Who, The Doors and The Ramones. “This music never went away. It was played on the radio when it first started coming out, and it never stopped. And some of these classic rock performers have never gone away, so the younger kids have the opportunity to stumble upon them.”
Thompson says the music genre is extremely accessible.
“This stuff is in the air,” he says. “You hear it playing on radio stations and in the grocery stores. And once the kids hear something they like, it’s easy for them to find it and find more stuff by that person.”
OLD MUSIC, NEW OUTLETS
Jim Owen, program director at Valley classic rock station KSLX (100.7 FM), says that classic rock is making a comeback with the younger set for a variety of reasons.
“Over the last 10 to 12 years, they have reissued a lot of classic rock CDs that were on vinyl,” he says. “And then there’s the box sets and collector type of things that have come out . . . I have a 12-year- old son who has iTunes, and he’ll end up downloading a Doors song from the Internet.”
Kristian Luce, co-owner of Hoodlum’s, a new and used music store located in ASU’s Memorial Union, also credits the iPod with helping kids discover classic rock.
“They’re not buying the stuff that you hear on the radio,” he says. “They’re buying the stuff that they’re uploading to their iTunes . . . People are buying more Tom Waits and Joy Division and Velvet Underground — deeper stuff. They’re going back and finding bands that influenced the bands they’re listening to.”
Evansfield — who says Dylan, Queen and Black Sabbath are among the top artists in his iPod catalog — says he prefers classic rock to “what’s on the radio” because it’s “intense.”
“Classic rock has a point,” he says. “It’s not mindless music. The lyrics have more meaning than the stuff you hear now.”
PASSING THE TORCH
Isaac Stroup, 24, credits his parents with turning him onto classic rock.
“Just hearing it growing up made me appreciate it,” says Stroup, a Chandler resident who works for an overhead garage door company. “My mom really loved Fleetwood Mac so I grew up listening to it. I was a teenager listening to Neil Young . . . That kind of music is so real. It’s the roots of what we’re hearing now.”
KSLX’s Owen says that his station sees a lot of father-and-son music fans at station events.
“The son will be in his teens and he’s a classic rock listener,” he says. “That’s always cool to see. It’s an interesting phenomenon. I think the other thing you’ll see in certain stores T-shirts that are certainly aimed at younger guys — 15 to 24 — with Aerosmith or AC/DC on them.”
Hoodlum’s Luce says it’s cool to see kids discovering the music of their parents’ — and in some cases their grandparents’ — generation. Artists such as Dylan, Waits and the Velvet Underground are big sellers at his store.
“You have kids finding old Clash records, old Ramones records, old Rolling Stones,” he says. “To the 18- and 19-year-olds, (’80s punkers) Fugazi is old. If the music came out before they were born, then it’s kind of classic to them.”
“I remember thinking it wasn’t cool to like the music your parents grew up on,” he says. “But now it is. It’s vintage music. I’m more impressed when someone tells me that the Beatles or Jimi Hendrix are on their iPod or that they influenced them in some way compared to someone like Linkin Park.”