As Homer J. Simpson once said, “Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974. It’s a scientific fact.”
Roger Boyd, keyboardist and frontman of classic rock band Head East, agrees.
“Pretty much, plus or minus a couple of years,” Boyd said. “The late 60s to the end of the 70s … have you ever seen that movie, the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood?’ Keystone Cops and Laurel and Hardy. That is what the late 60s to the late 70s was in rock and roll. There is no question about it.”
Head East is headlining this weekend at Classic Moonfest.
It is no coincidence Head East recorded their first album, “Flat as a Pancake,” in 1974. The breakout song on the album, “Never Been Any Reason,” helped the band land a record contract with A&M, which re-released the album the following year.
A head full of acid
It has been almost 50 years to the day since Head East adopted its name, Boyd said, which came during an acid trip at a hippie commune.
In the late 1960s, the band was known as the TimeAtions. But when dawn broke one summer morning in 1969, the band’s roadie, Baxter Forrest Twilight, woke Boyd to tell him of a vision he had seen while tripping on LSD.
Baxter said as the sun rose over the horizon it transformed into a talking head which told him the band should be renamed to “Head East.”
“I said, ‘sure,’” Boyd said. “We had been looking for a new name. The name we were using before was when we were doing teen centers and we were getting ready to play our first big college concert club.”
After rehearsing all summer long, the band formally changed their name during a concert at a college bar on Aug. 6, 1969, Boyd said.
Boyd never thought the band would make it big, he said.
“In the late 1960s I just played music for fun. I never thought about making it a career. I was studying to be an engineer. I was going to be a college professor. I found out playing rock and roll was a heck of a lot more fun than studying calculus and differential equations.”
With a new name, and mainstream success in the mid-1970s, the band enjoyed life in the limelight.
They found success being in the right place at the right time, smack dab in the middle of the massive political and cultural upheaval America was facing at the time, Boyd said.
“The Vietnam war was going on and people were talking about living in the communes. That didn’t work out so much because all those people became the hardcore capitalists you are seeing today.”
The band’s popularity began to diminish with the arrival of New Wave in the 1980s, Boyd said.
“In the 80s, people from the 70s were kind of considered dinosaurs. We were out for a while, which happens. It kind of cycles. We still played, but the big hair band thing was going on and music was going through a different revolution at the time.”
It really wasn’t until the mid-90s the band would enjoy a resurgence, Boyd said.
“All of a sudden we became classic and dinosaurs no longer,” Boyd said.
While the 80s had been frustrating, the 90s was a decade of rejoicing, Boyd said.
“You really had to hang in there if you loved your music.”
The problem was the free-spirited fans who came of age in the 1970s were suddenly swamped by jobs and kids in the 1980s, Boyd said.
“They weren’t coming out to the shows as much. In the mid-90s the kids were starting to move on a little bit to college and whatnot. The parents were ready to come back out and start enjoying the things they had enjoyed in the 70s.
During the 90s, Boyd decided to head back to college and earned a PhD in social sciences.
“I was going to be a college professor when I left in 1969 to play music and I thought I would only be gone six or eight years.”
But even while in school full time, Boyd still found time to rock.
“I went back after Labor Day and about Memorial Day it was time to put my college stuff away and put my rock and roll duds back on and hit the road,” he said.
Fifty years later, fans are eager to get their socks rocked off again, Boyd said.
“Now they are starting to come back out again and are bringing their kids because they want their kids to see how neat and wonderful it was back then. The music was a lot happier. There were songs that weren’t happy, but most songs were really more uplifting and more positive. That has changed.”
Back in the 70s, the dawn of FM radio played a huge factor in that dynamic, Boyd said.
“FM radio really started breaking and so you are making the transition from Top 40 to FM which changed the kind of music that was being played and people were hearing. And so the music industry was still new enough that you had a lot of different bands doing all kinds of different music, which really made it special. You just don’t hear any kind of killer song writing anymore. That made it really special.”
Turning back time
Head East is but one of several bands slated for Moonfest who will bring the sounds of classic 70s rock to the masses.
The remainder of the band lineup for the festival includes EvoFloyd, Geoffrey Castle, RocknDoc and the Backbones, Petty Fever, Rockfish and Friends, Kalan Wolfe, and the Shula Azhar Dancers. Randy and Bridget Linder from Creedence Revelation will provide music between bands with Bridget as Master of Ceremonies.
“The caliber of musicians is really high,” said Pamela Roberts, Classic Moonfest webmaster.
The lineup is also meant to be fun and casual, Roberts said.
“It is not anything that anybody would feel out of place. It was such a wonderful way to get friends together around the lake, enjoy some music and have good camaraderie.”
The current lineup of Head East, which has been together for about the past 14 years, is eager to perform Classic Moonfest, Boyd said.
“We are really excited. We are playing in North Dakota at a huge outdoor show the night before and we wanted to play the Moonfest so bad (we couldn’t say no). We are really looking forward to it.”