I love rock n’ roll…….
Actually, it’s more a case of, I loved rock n’ roll once upon a time in that far away era known as the eighties. The good ole days. The glam rock, the pub rock and the new age pop. Hair teased into bouffant bird’s nests, mullets and undercuts. Severe slashes of rouge and three toned eye-shadow. Puffy pirate shirts over leggings and ankle boots, shoulder pads and leather pants. Music that swung like a synth-pop monkey over a uniformly swaying tide of young people. Our anthems were belted out by the likes of Bon Jovi, our sexy tunes pouted by pretty boys Duran Duran and our solid thumping bass lines pumped quite seductively by INXS with a sultry blast from Kirk’s sax..
Australia was lush with talented rock-stars and our bands did the rounds of the country, working tirelessly to share their sweat with us. The bands looked good and serenaded us with provocative tunes. To this day, every time I hear ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ croon Current Stand on the radio I am transported back to a time when I could almost smell my hormones bubbling over. And just the opening line of the ‘Sunnyboys’, ‘We can lock away the bad memories forever….’ from Alone with You can get me up on the nearest table strumming an air guitar. Perhaps this reaction is indicative of all the youthful memories of any age, but I feel my memories of the ‘eighties’ are the sharpest and most emotionally recalled. The music of the eighties, most particularly though, elicits a response from me that is sometimes beyond enthusiastic. Just the opening harmonica riff from Boys Light Up by Australian Crawl is enough to have me swooning into my tea-cup and grinding a little deeper into my rocking-chair and don’t even get me started with Unguarded Moment by those gorgeous boys in ‘The Church’. That’s tantamount to a religious experience.
The reason for this is that from the age of almost sixteen, I crept out of my bedroom window and fast-tracked my way to Bombay Rock in Surfers Paradise, at least once a week, where I bopped to the beats hammered out into the salty Gold Coast nights. Live shows were the back- bone of the industry and Australian Crawl, The Church and the Radiators did not disappoint. Pseudo Echo, Uncanny X-Men, The Angels, The Divinyls, INXS, Cold Chisel and Mondo Rock kept the place jumping. Most bands were friendly and had plenty of time for their fans. I took advantage of the hospitality and found myself getting deeply involved in the ‘groupie scene’, where I’d enjoy more intimate attentions from touring rockers. The more ‘successes’ I had, the more bold I got and it soon grew into a crazy hobby. I became a musician collector. In the back of my diary I had a list of the conquests. And I rated their off-stage performances. I was only one of many, many other young teenage girls doing the same thing. By day I maintained my grades and was appointed Vice School Captain!
Every Sunday I was glued to the television set watching my idols play and laugh and joke with Australian rock guru Molly Meldrum. As my hobby took flight, I would get an extra thrill when I watched a performance on screen by someone I had been more intimately entertained by. I guess that’s why I still get a tingle of nostalgia when an old eighties tune hits the airwaves. Most songs bring back torrid memories and remind me of the excitement of my burgeoning sexuality and the hedonistic excesses that went along with rock and roll. The drug experimentation. The devil-may-care attitude that played alongside the tunes. The rebelliousness of adolescence. The hope and promise of a golden future that lay stretched out as far as the eye could see. A time when I felt invincible.
And then came AIDS and political correctness and temperance and by the nineties the party was over..
Now, I worry about my own children. I cringe at their music and bristle at their fashion choices. The piercings. The tattoos. The fringes that hang like curtains over one side of their face (the last one I can understand from a ‘Human League’ point of view). It’s difficult to sell my eighties as a time of innocent, boisterous fun. We did drugs. We were promiscuous. We trashed venues and motel rooms. And yet I remember such times fondly and without regret. The music scene these days seems more sinister, the music sounds angrier and the self-destructive fashion reflects that. (I don’t count ‘One Direction’ – but what lies beneath there, eh??? No-one can be as wholesome as they pretend…they scare me!!!)
And yet, I guess, I’ve just morphed into an older person who believes their glory days were the last of them. I look at those screaming teenage girls and wonder if Justin won’t be their Hutchence memory of the future…oh no! That was sacrilege. I apologise. No. Dammit. The eighties were the last golden days. Nothing before or since has spoken to me the way those lovely boys did. Don’t you, forget about me, don’t, don’t, don’t you, ‘ Simple Minds’ purrs from the radio and I smile. ‘No, no, no. I never will!