Monday, May 29, 2006

1976: R. Stevie Moore Was There First

Others may disagree, but personally I feel that in the modern rock era (circa 1976-2006), R. Stevie Moore can lay claim to being the first original rocker in Nashville. Those of us old enough to have been going to clubs thirty years ago (when the drinking age was 18) remember the fare we had to choose from -- "Top 40" cover bands and "cosmic country" songwriters was all that you'd find around town. Some might argue this point, but since this is my project, I'm going to stake a claim for Moore. He was playing original rock music at a time in the city when original voices were very hard to find.

Sure, there were garage rock bands around town in the '60s and pop songwriters and sessions with Elvis (with Moore's father Bob playing bass), Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Skip Spence, among others. There was also a thriving R&B scene in place in the Music City from the late-40s well into the '70s (see Night Train To Nashville), as well as blues players and gospel, but all of that is beyond my purview. Moore wrote his own songs and recorded what was the first indie rock album in Nashville, Phonography, in his home studio in 1976. Sadly, Moore left Nashville shortly thereafter and relocated to New Jersey, where he has since written hundreds of songs and recorded dozens of albums, receiving widespread critical acclaim and influencing a generation (or two) of pop/rock artisans that followed.

It's with this milestone that "The Other Side Of Nashville" will begin, because everything that happened after Phonography was part of a natural evolution that brought us to the present day. If R. Stevie Moore was the spark that fired off the indie rock revolution in Nashville, then the Ramones threw gasoline on the fire with their 1977 shows at the Exit/Inn. But that's a story for another time....

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