There have been numerous landmark events in music history that have made certain years seem more significant than others, such as the death of Johann Sebastian Bach in 1750, which signified the end of the Baroque period, or the dawn of the jazz era following the release of the first Original Dixieland Jazz Band album in 1917. And who can overlook British pop/rock’s global takeover following the Beatles’ 1964 debut appearance on American television?
But what about the stretches of time that passed between those rare, singular events? As an experiment, we decided to take a more macro look at one of those transitional periods, 1978, and quickly realized that a ton of things went down that year. The pioneering punk band the Sex Pistols played its final show, disco music took over the mainstream following the release of Saturday Night Fever, Van Halen blew minds for the first time with its new brand of power rock, legendary drummer Keith Moon died from a drug overdose just twenty days after the Who released Who Are You, and this month’s cover artist, Stewart Copeland, helped usher in a new wave of alternative rock on the Police’s debut album, Outlandos d’Amour. You can read more about Copeland’s early years and what he’s been up to lately, and we catch up with several other top drummers who had a particularly fruitful output in 1978 to get an insider’s perspective on the music scene from forty years ago.
Also included is the first installment of a revamp of our popular online series “What You Need to Know About….” This month we take a look at bass drum heads, including a survey of the various available models, what each type is designed to do, and which heads would be the best choices for specific kinds of sounds. The goal with this series is to help you make better-informed decisions for purchasing gear that matches your playing style and tastes.
We’re also super-excited to kick off a brand-new educational series by Rascal Flatts drummer and renowned author/educator Jim Riley that focuses on crucial grooves for every working drummer to know. In honor of this month’s 1978 theme, Jim takes a look at a few variations of the infamous disco beat.
Enjoy the issue!