I’m too young to have experienced the late ’60’s and 1970’s. My musical education for this period came in the form of classic rock radio. They’d play the biggies–Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Beatles, the Who, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, artists like that. It seemed like they’d play a song from one of those groups once an hour, if not more. Hell, Led Zeppelin had it’s own hour on my hometown station and now it seems Pink Floyd is played at 4:20 on every classic rock station out there (For the record, i personally consider classic rock anything from the psychedelic, album rock , and arena rock periods–roughly 1967-1982. Many classic rock stations now play songs from the 1980’s and early 90’s. I even heard “Caribbean Queen” the other day on our local station. I almost puked). Any way, there are 2nd tier classic rock artists like say Aerosmith or David Bowie or Journey–artists that fit the classic rock bill but don’t have enough songs to be played once an hour–and there are third tier artists like James Gang and The Band who have some good songs that maybe get played once a day. I’d like to send a tribute to my favorite artists I’ve grown to love from this period that I never, ever ever heard once on classic rock radio (but in the case of Little Feat, I think I heard “Dixie Chicken” once or twice)
1. Little Feat
Led by the great Lowell George, Little Feat was a rock band that seamlessly melded rock and roll with blues, soul, funk, even gospel. They sounded like they were from Memphis or New Orleans, when in fact they were based in California. They never really had a hit song–I think Dixie Chicken made it to #30 on the charts or something. Nevertheless, their first four or five albums stand up with the output of any group from this period, if you ask me. Little Feat is easily one of the most underrated rock bands of all time.
2. Roy Harper
Roy Harper is an extremely prolific singer/songwriter from the UK, active since the late ’60’s. He’s recorded a bevy of fantastic classic rock albums, but hasn’t seen a lick of success in the US. Led Zeppelin fans know his name from the song “(Hats off to) Roy Harper” released on Led Zeppelin III.
3. Dr. Feelgood
British Rock n Rollers Dr. Feelgood never even sniffed the charts in America, and achieved only a modicum of success in Europe. Yet this band was extremely prolific and churned out some fantastic albums from the mid ’70’s onward.
Scott Boyer and Tommy Talton were the driving forces in the band Cowboy, an American country-rock band that recorded six excellent albums for the Capricorn Label. This band toured with many of the genre’s best, including The Allman Brothers Band, Heartsfield, The Marshall Tucker Band, Randall Bramblett, Dixie Dregs, Wet Willie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Michael Martin Murphey.
5. J.J. Cale
JJ Cale is an American rocker that consistently put out excellent material that was/is ignored by the airwaves. Thankfully, other artists didn’t ignore his songs and turned them into rock standards, including “Call Me the Breeze” “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” Not only did Eric Clapton record his songs, but he stole his image as a laid back hipster following his “guitar god” period. If you listen to Eric Clapton the solo artist in the late ’70’s, it’s remarkable how much he sounds like Cale in the early-mid ’70’s. They even did an album together in the mid 2000’s. His songs are great, and he is largely forgotten.