Rock ‘n’ roll continues to live in the Fullerton community with all the institutions and cultural events that share the music with younger generations.
Rock ‘n’ roll has definitely been at the forefront of American culture in the later half of the 20th century and into the present day. It started many different social movements, music styles and fashions.
It also has been cherished in motion pictures and current music artists give the credit to past “Rock ‘n’ Rollers” as influences to their modern songs.
The generations that first listened to rock ‘n’ roll do believe in what folk singer Don McLean coined as “The day the music died…”
In February of 1959, three of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest artists, The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly died in a plane crash while on tour. The generations of “Rock ‘n’ Rollers” that listened to their music claimed that the death of these three influential people led the way for music movements like Surf Rock, the British Invasion, punk rock and many more.
In George Lucas’ motion picture “American Graffiti”, the characters reflect the perspective early rock ‘n’ rollers, like Don McLean, from the generation that first listened to the music in the 1950s. With the film setting in September of 1962, actor Paul Le Mat’s character says, “Rock ‘n’ roll’s been going downhill ever since Buddy Holly died.”
History major Diego Gonzalez, does not think the music actually died with Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper. While he does recognize that fateful day as a turning point in the music’s history, he views it rather as an evolution rather than total loss.
“I believe early rock changed for the worse about 1966 or 1967. The Beatles’ ‘Sergeant Pepper’ album definitely marked the end of the style of music that started in the 1950s,” said Diego Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is a fan of rock ‘n’ roll from the 1950s and the early 1960s. His favorite songs are “Come Go With Me” by the Del Vikings, “Maybe Baby” by Buddy Holly and “Heart and Soul” by the Cleftones. Diego collects vinyl records and wants to learn how to swing dance so he can take his girlfriend out to venues that play their favorite music.
Another fan of rock ‘n’ roll music is psychology major, Jake Avalos and also collects vinyl records of his favorite rock ‘n’ roll artists. Avalos is a fan of rock ‘n’ roll from the 1960s through the 1990s. A couple of his favorite songs are “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen and “Time” by Pink Floyd.
“All my favorite artists are either dead, retired or only perform at really expensive venues,” said Jake Avalos.
In the Fullerton community rock ‘n’ roll lives on through the event, A Day of Music, put on by the businesses in Downtown Fullerton for the past seven years.
Black Hole Records owner Bill Evans, has been a big contributor to this event by finding local rock bands to perform. Evans gives local rock bands exposure to the younger generations of rock ‘n’ roll in the Fullerton community.
Evans has owned his business selling vinyl records, band posters and other band merchandise since 1986. Ever since he moved his business down the street from Fullerton College it has been a popular hangout for fans that cherish rock ‘n’ roll.
Black Hole records is not the only place where rock ‘n’ roll lives on there’s also the Leo Fender Gallery in the Fullerton Museum Center. Leo Fender, a Fullerton native, was the inventor of the solid body electric guitar.
Aimee Aul, the museum’s educator insisted the younger generations appreciate the the first “Rock ‘n’ Rollers” history and music. She explained how college and high school students regularly visit the Fender gallery because they’re interested in seeing the exhibits that change every two years.
The curator of the Fullerton Museum Center and former Fullerton College student Kelly Chidester was adamant about how rock ‘n’ roll history is appreciated by the young visitors to the Fender Gallery.
“Music transcends generations. Whatever high school students listen to now, (their current music styles) use the same instruments and it hasn’t changed because it hasn’t needed to,” said Kelly Chidester.
Since rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well in the Fullerton College community, students have pursued music careers with the guidance of talented teachers such as Professor Markus Burger.
Professor Burger, a successful pianist in three bands and a music producer in Cologne, Germany, has been helping aspiring music students at Fullerton College since 2005.
Professor Burger hopes to enhance the Fullerton College music program he feels more Fullerton College students could pursue rock ‘n’ roll careers. If only the school could receive more funding to buy the necessary equipment to produce quality music.
All the activity in the Fullerton community involving younger generations with rock ‘n’ roll it’s clear to see the music didn’t really die. The music is making a vibrant comeback.
Music outlets such as record stores, museum galleries and music programs are the channels in which the rock ‘n’ roll is traveling to the younger generations.
People like Jake Avalos, Diego Gonzalez and their friends cherish the music of the past. To them, this music is a unique art form that can’t be outdone by modern forms of music.
As the music group Danny and the Junior’s put it in 1958, “Rock ‘n’ roll will always be! It’ll go down in history!”