Born in 1958, American actor Kevin Bacon grew up during perhaps the most emphatic moment in the history of pop culture. The 1960s brought on radical changes within the arts that had an unprecedented impact on the wider world. The countercultural “hippie” generation demanded change in the face of war and archaic values. During this period, rock music was out in front as the prime conduit for revolutionary energy. Spearheading the era was The Beatles, one of Bacon’s first musical infatuations.
In the late 1960s, a young Bacon found himself spoiled for choice as he fell in love with pop music. In a 2013 interview with Music Radar, Bacon described his early passion for music. “I’ve often said that my heroes played guitars, and in a way, it all started at home,” he said.
He added: “Michael [brother] played guitar, and my sister played cello, oboe, guitar, banjo, piano – pretty much anything. They sounded great. Seeing them make music in front of me, the fact that they played instruments and were in a band, it really got to me. It seemed really cool.”
Aged 17, Bacon followed his nose into the arts by enrolling at the Square Theater School in New York City. “I wanted life, man, the real thing,” he once recalled in conversation with Nancy Mills of Cosmopolitan. “The message I got was ‘The arts are it, business is the devil’s work. Art and creative expression are next to godliness.’ Combine that with an immense ego, and you wind up with an actor.”
While Bacon’s career flowed down the stream of acting, he’s kept very much in touch with his musical side, appearing most notably in the 1984 musical Footloose.
Speaking with Music Radar, Bacon discussed some of the music that changed his life. Picking out The Beatles’ 1967 psychedelic classic, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, as one of his all-time favourites, Bacon revealed the cheeky way he managed to save up for the album in the innocence of youth.
“When I was a little kid,” Bacon recalled. “I had an AM radio, and I listened to soul music on WDAS and pop-rock on WFIL – this was before FM rock. I had a 45 record player, too, and I was always trying to score a single or even just borrow one from somebody. Then Sgt. Pepper came out, and it seemed like it was this new thing”.
“When my father came home from work, he’d go into the bedroom to change his clothes and get ready for bed. He’d turn his pants inside out, and all of this change would fall out of his pockets and hit the floor. For some reason, he’d always forget to pick it up, so what I would do is, I’d go into my parents’ bedroom, and I would steal it. [Laughs] Eventually, I collected enough to buy Sgt. Pepper. It was the first album I ever bought. I might have even split it with my friend Harry – I’m not sure”.
Bacon continued, explaining how the groundbreaking release grabbed his youthful imagination. “To come home and hold it and look at it… There was the music, which was mind-blowing, of course, but it was also this thing. It had stuff that you’d cut out, and there was the cover – you could stare at it for hours. There were records before, but this was a record. This was different.”
Adding: “It was crazy, it was fresh – sonically, it was so advanced – but it was also very accessible, even for a kid. It was just wonderful.”
Listen to the groundbreaking Sgt. Pepper finisher, ‘A Day In The Life’, below.