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BOOK 4: FRAGMENTATION

OVERVIEW

For a brief time, Rock and Roll seemed almost to be building its own utopia. In late sixties Rock and Roll culture in particular, the walls erected in the wider world - between the races, between men and women, between nations - seemed to collapse. The record collections of the young Rock and Roll audience often included R&B, Hard Rock, Blues, Pop, Jazz, Country, and more. Free Form FM radio mirrored this eclectic but inclusive approach to music by creating inventive playlists unbound by genre. And, then, as the “Fragmentation” crept in, the old walls seemed to reassert themselves. Fan communities, radio formats, and, indeed, even personal record collections came to be defined by genre. Hard lines were drawn. Punks defined themselves in opposition to the fans of arena rock groups like Led Zeppelin. Grunge borrowed from Heavy Metal but, more adamantly still, refused the theater of Heavy Metal. Radio was again split down racial lines. If Rock and Roll culture, in the broad sense, had been connected with youth culture as a whole, and this brought different genres and traditions into dialogue with one another, now Rock and Roll culture grew increasingly fragmented. It wouldn’t mean the end of the music. But some of the promise of late sixties Rock and Roll was, for the moment, compromised.


Minor Threat, The Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.,1981     |     Credit: Malco23