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On The Road To Rock Excess: Why The '60s Really Ended In 1973 : NPR

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How could he mention Alice Cooper in the same breath as Led Zeppelin and The Who?

"So when the early '70s got there," Walker says, "this half of the baby boom decided to have their own party, and they wanted their own bands. And they brought to prominence bands like Led ZeppelinAlice CooperThe Who — sort of from both generations. The late-born baby boomers, that was their moment."

That moment is the subject of Walker's new book, What You Want Is in the Limo: On the Road with Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, and the Who in 1973, the Year the Sixties Died and the Modern Rock Star Was Born. In it, he argues for that year as a tipping point, when big tours — and bigger money — became a defining ethos in rock music. He speaks about it here with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish.

There are so many bands that hit the road on big tours or have seminal albums in 1973. You list some of them: Rod Stewart, Bob MarleyPink Floydhas Dark Side of the Moon; Elton John hasGoodbye Yellow Brick Road; there are debut albums from Queen and Aerosmith. Why do you choose — out of this massive list and range of music — these three bands? What do they represent?

In 1973, Alice Cooper was that big a deal.

"It's partially arbitrary, because I had great affection for all three bands and those albums. But there's a very specific reason I did choose them: because 1973, unbeknownst to any of them, was going to be their peak year. Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies was the culmination of the band's march towards superstardom. It finally hit No. 1 in 1973; they have a sold-out tour of North America and they break up in 1974. I mean, they barely made it out of the year before they broke up. For The Who, Pete Townshend was obsessed in the early '70s about The Who shedding their '60s past, really kind of wrapping it up in a neat bow so that they can move on into the '70s and progress as a cultural influence. And there's a song called '[The] Punk and the Godfather' fromQuadrophenia, and it's basically this kid in the audience sneering up at the performers just saying, 'Look, I made you.' Quadrophenia turned out to be the last great Who album and Pete Townshend pretty much admitted it over the years.

"Led Zeppelin, unbeknownst to Led Zeppelin as well, was reaching their peak with Houses of the Holy, which was a really great, eclectic and fun album. But after [that album] and the subsequent tours, they went off the road for 18 months. They spent the '70s in a long decline and they never really got back out of it."

Me:  Bob Marley didn't hit the US big time until '74.  I saw him in NYC as a opening act for blues great Taj Mahal.   And because the audience came to see a blues performer and were hard-core blues fans, they booed Bob and the Wailers ..... for awhile ..... and then they got it.  Feet started tapping and people climbed up on the tables and DANCED.

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