Although there are many different generations of rock stars, people always forget that within the murky realm of rock music, there are many different generations all hailing from different cultural backgrounds.
The genre is comprised of an extensive family tree, dating all the way back to the Delta bluesmen of old, each generation bringing something different to the fold, helping to develop and progress the movement, keeping the flame alive in a way that no other genre can claim to do. However, whilst there are many similarities between rock stars of various generations, there are also slight differences.
For some of the classic rock guard, this came to the fore during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in 2009. The story was recounted by iconic Aerosmith guitarist, Joe Perry, during an interview with A-Sides back in 2015. This involved some of the biggest names in rock history, including himself, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and thrash metal pioneers, Metallica. Perry said: “When Metallica was inducted into the Hall Of Fame they had Jimmy Page and I think that Jeff Beck was being inducted too and me coming up to play with Metallica. The song is ‘Train Kept A’ Rollin’, Metallica didn’t know it. They did not know ‘Train Kept A’ Rollin’. It was like a drummer not knowing ‘Wipeout’ (The Surfaris). Jimmy and Jeff kind of looked at each other like ‘Okay, we will have to run through for them’. They had the teleprompter and of course, it was no pun intended, but it was a trainwreck after Jeff brought the ‘train’”.
He continued: “I mean, we made it through it. But it just showed that a generation in rock and roll can be two years. Like Alice (Cooper) said, we’ve learned from these guys even though they were maybe a couple years older than us, maybe even younger.”
Joining Perry, Page, Beck and Metallica for the song were Ronnie Wood, Flea and Jason Newsted. During a 2014 interview with Vanyaland, Perry shed more light on this star-studded lineup and elucidated his thoughts regarding the intergenerational differences between those on stage. He clarified that he wasn’t trying to criticise Metallica either, but wanted to show just how myriad the influences in rock and roll are.
Perry explained: “Metallica has made great music and a great name for themselves. Their sound is original. They deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. The story wasn’t meant to be a putdown. I hope it doesn’t come across that way. It’s not how I meant it.”
Adding: “It’s more of an observation that every generation seems to get away from the original stuff. Also that each generation is going to have to find their inspirations. They’re going to hear something and they’re going to go, ‘I like that or I don’t like that.’ It may be the type of thing where you’re not hearing something and you know you can do it better”.
He concluded: “I know that is part of what I was feeling. So I was thinking, ‘Well I can do that. I can get on stage and do that or I’m missing something when I see this band or that band. We can put another twist on it. Or we can try this or try that and then add a little bit of our own originality to it.’”
Rock and roll is only the sum of its parts and should be celebrated as such. It’s brilliant to see that the old guard and younger legends can all join forces with such ease, regardless of the fact that some cultural signifiers are lost in translation. Moments such as these are what it’s all about, people coming together, no matter what generation they’re from, or who their influences are.
Watch the stellar performance of ‘Train Kept A’ Rollin’ below.