Present Day: So, this little thing called, “the Pandemic” has brought the performing arts to its knees. Among the most vulnerable are the rockers of yesteryear who wonder what the future holds.
The fallout from cover can’t be overstated…The landscape for the performing arts is surely grim at the moment. Social distancing, lockdowns, and a landscape void of concerts have all taken their toll. But, here’s the good news – Rockers still want to rock and their fans can’t wait to see them again.
For the glam rock stars of yesteryear though, it’s a little more complicated.
Performers like Darby Mills who is best known as the front-woman of the Canadian rock band, The Headpins, wonders what life will look like after the pandemic. When you snarl, scream and roar for a living, vocal cords take a beating and the passing of time creates challenge. As all things do, vocal cords age and Ms Mills wonders if she be able to do what she loves when festivals and concerts begin to welcome fans once again?
However, confidence is high. Ms Mills reminds us all, "Personally, I've learned if you've got the time, just keep moving forward best you can. One day opportunity will come your way. Be READY!”
Now, let’s consider the current state of the vinyl record market. Fast forward 30 years to today. Vinyl is back and classic rock dominates that market.
Sure, most people still consume their music via streaming, but the global pandemic has the world on edge. Covid-driven lockdowns have people racing for comfort wherever they can find it.
Thus, dropping the needle gently on our favourite vinyl records has become part of the comfort regimen. The warmth of the analog sound soothes the savage beast, it seems. The trend had been growing for a while and the pandemic has created the perfect storm.
Let’s consider some numbers:
More than 18.84 million records were sold in 2019 and for the 14th consecutive year, vinyl album sales grew to a new yearly high, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.
Rolling Stone magazine reported, Vinyl Is Poised to Outsell CDs For the First Time Since 1986” (Spoiler alert… It did). And, Forbes magazine proclaimed, Vinyl Is Bigger Than We Thought. Much Bigger.
Even the kids totally get it. Whether they connect with the coolness of their parent’s vinyl or discover the joyful inaccuracies of records for the first time, they are undeniably driving demand. Record companies see opportunity as they regularly release new music on vinyl and re-release old classics… If only the pressing plants could keep up. Limited production and distribution create bottlenecks in a world where the demand for vinyl has roared back to life.
> Watch: http://thevinylrevivalfilm.com
And now back to classic rock musicians, vintage vinyl and the connective tissue between the two. Companies that specialize in the sale of collectible albums such as Vinyl Pursuit Inc., see a clear trend. Owner Tammy Brown notes, “For us and most record merchants I know, the demand for classic rock outpaces all other genres, by far.”
As the demand for vintage classic rock vinyl grows, fans are reconnecting with their favorite artists from the 80’s and 90’s like never before. And, that leads us back to Darby Mills.
So, who is she? When The Headpins released their debut album Turn It Loud in 1982 which quickly went Double Platinum, marking the fastest rise of a record in Canadian music history. The album topped the charts for six weeks with the hit single Don't It Make Ya Feel leading the way.
On their second album, Line of Fire, the band offered more hit singles like, Just One More Time and Feel It (Feel My Body) which respectively went Platinum and Gold. The Headpins also toured with acts like Whitesnake, Eddie Money, ZZ Top and Kiss.
As with many artists, the feeling goes deep. Ms Mills says, “I knew as a kid that I wanted to be on stage… I always knew.”
But time has not been kind to hair metal bands. Case in point – what do Nirvana’s Nevermind, Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger and Pearl Jam’s Ten albums all have in common? They were all released within a span of three weeks during August 1991. And just like that, the age of grunge was born.
The coiffed theatre of hair metal immediately gave way to the plaid shirts and greasy hair of disaffected youth. The transition was abrupt, undeniable and not without a lot of rock n’ roll roadkill along the way.
The rock stars and guitar heroes of the eighties became persona non grata in the nineties. Market tastes shifted and hair metal bands simply ceased. Bookings stopped and the subsequent money generated did too. Frontmen like Kevin DuBrow from Quiet Riot lost his home as did many others. Bankruptcies and divorces soared.
But time is also the great equalizer as all three of the aforementioned monster grunge albums are now considered Classic Rock. #Irony
Here’s the thing… For performers like Darby Mills, there’s plenty of hope and here’s why…Nostalgia is profitable. In pre-pandemic times, ticket sales of classic rock acts were at an all-time high. Band from the 80’s were packaged together and presented as a festival or tour aimed at zoomers and GenX’ers.
The highest grossing tours in 2019 were mostly delivered by classic rock bands whose help fans reconnect their glory days. Bands like Metallica - $179 million, The Rolling Stones - $177.8 million, Bon Jovi - $134.2 million and Fleetwood Mac - $112.2 million raked in the cash.
Simply put, people want to classic rock.
Creators gotta create and to pass the time, Ms Mills now heads the Darby Mills Project. Here she gets to call the shots put a voice to the music that moves her. “This Project is great. its like comfort and therapy all at the same time she laughs. “I get to sing classics like, When a Man Loves a Woman and it’s so good to be at one with the music.”
While we wait for this pandemic thing to pass, the next best thing to live performance is of course, vintage vinyl. And, as fans rediscover their favourite old bands during the covid era, the desire to see them perform once again will create fresh demand and thrust these acts back into the spotlight once again.
We foresee a glorious renaissance for these artists as fans reconnect and remember just how great the music was and remains.
So, can the newfound love of vintage vinyl save rock n’ rollers like Darby Mills?
We say… Yes, it can! But, do you agree?! Let us know your thoughts below!
And Now for Something Different
Now on the Rock Shop...
We have one beautiful, autographed copy of the Headpins album, Head Over Heels and a few other vintage Pins albums now available on our Rock Stop store. Grab em while they’re hot!
Autographed Album, Head Over Heels by the Headpins on Sale Now!
Vinyl Pursuit would like to thank Darby Mills for her contribution. And where is she now? Ms. Mills has been building the which is a showcase for the many classic Headpins songs she is credited as co-writer, epic covers and great new music too. Check it out and TURN IT LOUD!!