Being a "child of the 70's" I am occasionally asked about the music I listened to, what bands I liked when I was young and what records I bought. I always find this very hard to answer but I had never really sat down and thought about why this was so before.
The mid to late 70's are thought of as the "Punk Era". Punk supposedly rushed in and kicked the shit out of the lovey dovey romantic hippie music of the 60's and the world was changed. But I don't remember that. My earliest memories of music on the radio would probably be such things as Rolf Harris and "Lilly the Pink"; not the Sex Pistols or the Clash; the BBC didn't play them and if the BBC didn't play it, most people never heard it. What I actually remember about punks as people was that they generally had very bad skin and always carried with them a very bad odour of vomit and piss. These days punks get their laundry done by their mums so that's a pleasant change at least.
I don't want to do a "Kids these days" or "The world was different then" rant, I don't feel old enough to justify that but I do think there is a void of misunderstanding about kids of the late 60's and early 70's that warrants a bit of explanation. This is of course, simply my point of view and I wasn't in London or any of the other big cities where things may have been very different for other people.
In the mid to late 70's; I spent my nights breaking into building sites, burning things down, running away from people trying to kill me, trying to derail trains, nicking park gates, being at war with various stuck up wardens, breaking into people's car garagaes and trying to dismantle their cars, exploring abandoned buildings, having gang wars (ok, we are not talking New York and LA style ones!), exploring church and school roofs, nicking lead from church and school roofs, shooting people I didn't like with air guns and being shot back by people I either liked or disliked depending on the week and really just generally being a complete delinquent... What time or need did I have to listen to music? Music was something that my parents listened to; I wanted to be outside doing stuff, whatever the weather, whatever the time.
I guess these days none of that stuff is allowed. Back then I don't really think the police came into things; generally speaking if you did something bad to something the person responsible for it would come after you and if they caught you, you could expect to be kicked the crap out of. We didn't complain, that was how the game was played. From my memory of the police they were this remote concept used by people in a similar way to the bogey man who would lock you up in prison for doing bad things - In reality they were more likely to give you a smack around the head, or, in my case, drag you back home to ask your parents to smack you round the head and keep their little brat under control.
There was very little point in being indoors at home in the 70's. TV was just starting to take over from Radio but us kids were pretty much ignored. Andy Pandy, reruns of Muffin the Mule and Mary Mungo and Midge were ok for a while, but they soon got fairly boring. Saturday Morning TV was for kids, with "Why Don't You" on in the Holidays but even then most of the TV shows were basically saying "Get out of the house and do stuff" (although if you class Benny Hill as kids TV, that "something" seemed to involve chasing women and squeezing their bums or tits; but we will gloss over that). An interesting party-game for younger people - Get a bunch of "30 somethings" in a room together, and ask them about music. The conversation will be a bit stilted and emotionless with nobody saying much that is actually based on passioned experience from the time... Now steer the conversation to "kids TV" and listen to them bore you for hours and hours with endless garbage about how good some show you have never heard of was. You see; much as people deny it, they didn't listen to music, they watched TV and whatever they say, the TV was shit which is why it was more fun to sit in the rain smoking rolled up nettles, sniffing glue and getting chased by people intent to cause you bodily harm for some mischief you had caused.
So where did music fit in? I am speaking personally here, but it didn't. There was music for older people on the radio, stuff from the 60's and new people coming along with much the same. There was the Glam Rock and even some real Rock for them as well which I guess is where the 60's led and for the older teenagers who had access to it, there was of course Punk Rock. Like most people my age who think we had a "void" I know the history of it all very well but that is because I watched endless reruns of everything I missed throughout the 80's when music started to become popular again and you would do anything to avoid having to watch a bunch of 40 year olds dancing to The Birdie Dance.
As a complete aside, and as a way to nicely end this; I want to set up a theme park for modern kids. I will call it "70's World" and in it, they have to survive in a world where TV was still often black and white, where there are no McD's and nowhere to "hang out", where there was nothing actually aimed at them except for Saturday Morning TV and oh yea, the TV and the radio just stop broadcasting anything at night but even if you did happen to want to watch Starsky and Hutch once a week on a portable telly you had to stand there, stationary, holding up a bent coathanger to even get a fuzzy picture. There are no video games (in fact, there are no video recorders), there are no computers and the idea of cellphones and "texting" is something not even thought up by one of the terrible science-fiction series on the telly such as Blakes-7 (God save us from the people who still watch that shit on video, hardly any kids watched it when it first came out because it clashed with Crossroads!). The kitchen was out-of-bounds for kids, in any case, what would you eat in there? There were no snack foods but then, you could live on very cheap sweets and crisps and cakes you could buy stale from bakers shops for 5p a bag.
If it doesn't catch on as a holiday camp, perhaps I can suggest it to the government as a replacement for Kids prisons. Now there's an idea.