THE CULTURE HISTORY OF AIR GUITAR
Do you know the name of the man who played the first verified air guitar ever?
Do you know which other air instrument was played 102 years before the first air
guitar? You think Joe Cocker is the only important guy in the air guitar history?!
Did you ever hear something about the “Soundhouse Story”, about Neil Kay or
I have all the answers! As you could read in my last blog text, my first serious contact with air guitar was at university in 2009. We did an intensely work on the history of Rock’n’Roll, the electric guitar as cultural icon and we created a Guitar Hero-Checklist for example. Just 2 years later I’ve written my thesis about this subject, about “The Culture History of Air Guitar”. I was really interested in the important events in the history, in the persons who gave air guitar the significance we know today. So I started my historical investigation.
Of course Joe Cocker and this epic appearance at the Woodstock Festival in 1969
was the first topic of my scientific study. I attempted to interpret Cockers
performance by watching a video of his last song at Woodstock called “With A
Little Help From My Friends”.
But Cocker wasn’t the first man who played air guitar in public. It was Bill Reed,
the bass singer of the Canadian Doo-Wop-Band “The Diamonds”. In 1957 the
music group had an appearance in an American TV-show by performing their
song “Words of love”. Reed was playing air guitar in an unobtrusive way and just
for a few seconds, but it should go down in (air guitar) history.
And what is about “The Soundhouse Story”? The Soundhouse was a night club in
the North West of London opened in the early '70s. "London's Only Heavy Rock
Disco" began taking place five times a week, drawn to the sounds of Black
Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Rush and Thin Lizzy. Quite often the owner Neal Kay
arranged imaginary band competitions in the club. The participants were playing
on crafted cardboards in shape of guitars. Rob Loonhouse was the most famous
headbanger in the Soundhouse. Later he asked Iron Maiden to become their
unofficial sixth member.
1855 by the way the main character in the novel “The Warden” written by the
English author Anthony Trollope was already playing an air instrument: air
vioncello! The preceeding model of our air guitar!
I could write so much more about the culture history of air guitar. Maybe I’ll
bring out a book about it one day?!
Fri 10 Aug 2012
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