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Talking all things Westmorland, with Gazette columnist Andrew Thomas…
Watching the various shows on television to mark what would have been John Lennon’s birthday made me realise what an amazing period of popular music many Westmorland Gazette readers have lived through.
While Lennon tragically died in 1980 at the age of 40, many of the figures who stand tall with him in rock’s pantheon are still with us – Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder – and we should treasure them while we can.
Pop and rock were so innovative in its early days, from the jangly tunes of the early 1960s to the psychedelia and blues of the latter part of the decade. The early 70s saw glam sitting side by side with ‘progressive’ rock from the likes of Genesis and Pink Floyd and sensitive singer-songwriters such as James Taylor, Paul Simon and Jackson Browne.
And then came disco, punk, heavy metal, New Wave and, into the 1980s, the New Romantics – it seemed like a new trend came along every few months.
Everyone will have their favourite era. For me, things faltered around 1985, though they picked up in the mid-90s with Britpop and re-emergence of guitar-driven bands.
Cumbria has not generated too many rock heroes, although Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, was born at Bouth; half of British Sea Power are from Kendal, as were The Wild Beasts; the lead singer of Marillion, Steve Hogarth, was born at Kendal; and It Bites (‘Calling All the Heroes’) were from Egremont.
It was said Sting had a home at Grasmere at one time. As for boy bands, Lee Brennan of 911 is from Carlisle and Mark Owen, of Take That fame, lived for a while near Kirkby Lonsdale.
Of course, many top acts have performed at a variety of venues in Cumbria. At the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal alone I have seen Midge Ure, Graham Parker and Loudon Wainwright 111, among others, although I regret not attending the gigs played there by Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant and Peter Green, of Fleetwood Mac.
Elton John, of course, played at Westmorland County showground, while Tom Jones, Simply Red, Cliff Richard and Boyzone have performed at Cartmel Racecourse.
Live music brings happiness to so many people and we all look forward to the days when we are once again able to attend concerts in the area.
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