Why does metal rock music fade away

Rocked out! Why rock music and electric guitars are slowly running out of juice

Prize question: Name a rock star under the age of 30. You have 30 seconds. Do not cheat! One that everyone knows - not a Finnish heavy metal singer with a three-meter beard. No, we're talking about a Mick Jagger in Jung, a Jimi Hendrix in Alive. Do you need another 30 seconds? No problem! Take yourself 30 minutes. You won't find one.

Rock music is in crisis. It's not just someone who says that, but someone who fits the Rockstar label like a jack plug into an amplifier socket: Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant. “Rock has lost its steam. The associated ideas have passed their peak. "The British DJ Paul Gambaccini - they call him Professor Pop - sees it exactly the same way:" Rock as a dominant style is music history! "

But away from the British music greats. Into our region. In Rheinfelden, Peter Linsin feels how rock music is running out of juice. His music business hasn't sold electric guitars for two years. The simple reason: “In the end nothing gets stuck.” 150 kilometers away, Folker Vollberg in Überlingen also observes that electric guitars are becoming slow-moving. “I don't know why,” the man with the unusual first name told the newspaper. But he had heard something similar from many colleagues.

The music dealer Helmut Assfalg from Singen is no less frustrated. He suspects that more expensive electric guitars have reached a certain degree of saturation. “And the age group that is interested in these instruments is slowly dying away!” Patrick Ziegler from Guitarra in Villingen has even developed a thesis as to why the sales figures for rock guitars are falling: The role models are missing. “There are hardly any young bands with whom you can identify.” The last time that young people, inspired by a guitar band, bought the store empty was a good eleven or twelve years ago. The teen heartbreakers from Tokio Hotel ensured increasing sales at Guitarra at the time.

The music dealers have trouble getting rid of their instruments. Well. Maybe today's young people prefer to buy their rock axes on the Internet? Not quite. Last year, the Washington Post stated that electric guitar sales in the US had shrunk from 1.5 million in 2007 to a million recently. The largest American music retailer Guitar Center has now accumulated 1.6 billion in debt. And the renowned manufacturers Gibson and Fender have also been in the red for some time.

The collapsing sales figures are a symptom. How bad the patient is in rock music is only noticeable when you compare his condition with that of other music genres. Roger Daltrey, singer of The Who, sang in 1965 in the song "My Generation" that he would rather die than grow old. Today he is 73 years old and has an astonishing diagnosis: "The only ones who really have something to say are the rappers," Daltrey dictated to a journalist for the London Times last year.


Highlights from four decades of rock

The blues had a baby and they called it rock and roll. At least that's what blues singer Muddy Waters says. To this day, historians disagree on how and when rock music came about. One thing is certain: these nine moments are definitely rock history.
  • 1954: "Rock Around the Clock"
    Bill Haley is the first rock ’n’ roll singer to break into the charts. Youngsters celebrate the new music. Frank Sinatra describes it as the ugliest form of expression he has ever had to listen to.
  • 1957: The king and the swing of the hips
    Elvis Presley popularized the new style of music - with a lot of sex appeal. Too much for the creators of the Ed Sullivan Show: They decide to only film the King from the waist up.
  • 1962: The Beatles in Hamburg
    John, Paul and George are still largely unknown. On the Reeperbahn they already encounter a grateful audience. A year later, Ringo completes the quartet. The first number 1 hit follows with “She Loves You”.
  • 1965: Bob Dylan and the socket
    The folk messiah swaps his acoustic guitar for an electric guitar. Dylan is then referred to as Judas, and his rocking "Like a Rolling Stone" is celebrated as a work of the century.
  • 1967: The summer of love
    It is the time of flower power. With “Light my Fire” the Doors deliver the suitably sensual soundtrack. Two years later, the hippie movement culminated with the Woodstock Festival.
  • 1973: Psychedelic best seller
    The British band Pink Floyd released "Dark Side of the Moon". The spherical album stayed in the US charts for a record 744 weeks.
  • 1977: Punks against the monarchy
    The Sex Pistols celebrate Queen Elizabeth's silver jubilee with a punk rock version of the national anthem. "God Save the Queen" is provocative. The BBC refuses to play the song.
  • Almost two billion TV viewers watch as the stars from rock and pop give each other the handle at the Live Aid benefit concert.
  • Kurt Cobain, singer in the band Nirvana, takes his own life with a shotgun. In his suicide note, he quotes Canadian songwriter Neil Young: "It's better to burn out than to fade."



A look at the German music scene proves him right. Rap stars like Kollegah and Haftbefehl speak a different language than the generation over 50. Your texts lead to heated discussions in the playgrounds as well as in the feature sections. The rapper Casper was attested to have expressed the desperation of a disaffected youth with his album "XOXO". The daily newspaper “Die Welt” wrote of the “voice of a generation”.


In his mother country, rap has been on the rise for a long time anyway. Born in the New York ghettos, the former minority music grew to become America's best-selling music style in 2017. Linguistic artists like Kendrick Lamar prove that rap has freed itself from the chubby gangsta image. They are the anti-Trumps who deliver the soundtrack to the Black Lives Matter movement with their experimental albums. And while Lamar and colleagues use the mouthpiece of social protests, the President plays old Rolling Stones songs at his major events. Not really surprising.

The rebellious messages are one reason the youth feel inspired by hip-hop. In addition to purely practical considerations - composing on a laptop is convenient and cheap - rap also simply appears to be the more contemporary art form: rap songs are composed of a multitude of fragments in music and text. The collaboration of different artists is not an exception, but a genre convention. This diversity, pushed by digital technology, reflects the zeitgeist of the smartphone age more than the more than 70-year-old classic rock combination of bass, voice, drums and guitar.

Rock is no longer protest

So that was it? The rappers come out of the underground with thick beats and blow the rockopas off the stage? If you believe Udo Dahmen, things are not that simple. In an interview with SÜDKURIER, the professor at the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg points out that listening to music has generally changed. "The normal consumer today listens everywhere." The word consumer is no coincidence: In times of streaming services like Spotify, the focus is on the mood of the user. And instead of the albums of his favorite rockers, he has the complete catalog of music history available. Because this can quickly become overwhelming, the machine makes a selection of songs that adapts to the desired mood. "The playlists have names like 'Morning Mood'. Often it is no longer clear to the users what they are hearing. "

But also the musicians themselves blur the genre boundaries. Bruce Springsteen attends Taylor Swift concerts. Bushido raps the stanzas to refrains by Karel Gott. The old "tell me what you hear and I'll tell you who you are" no longer seems to work.

"The break lines between the generations are no longer there either," emphasizes Udo Dahmen. “In the past there were irreconcilable rifts between the Rolling Stones and Heino listeners.” Today, parents and children can easily listen to the music of Sting or Beyoncé together, says the professor happily. In his eyes, rock has long since become a multi-generational project. “Rock music connects instead of dividing! That's a positive development. "

The last megatrend

Dahmen is fed up with the nonsense: The selection of good rock music is greater today than ever before. Because in addition to established artists like Deep Purple, Eric Clapton and Co, who still fill arenas without any problems, there are plenty of great young bands. It is reminiscent of Sizar and The Intersphere. Admittedly - these are both bands from the own four walls of the Mannheim Pop Academy. But Dahmen is not easily beaten: "In every region of Germany there are still at least 1,500 bands who let off steam on the stages and in the rehearsal cellars." It is easy to say that these artists no longer attract the same attention as the rock stars of past decades To do with the fact that rock has split into countless sub-genres.

“The break came in the nineties.” In a few years, different styles dominated by electric guitars would have gained in importance. Styles that don't reveal a syllable that they have anything to do with rock: Dahmen speaks of grunge, which groups like Pearl Jam and Nirvana would have made known. “At the same time, Britpop came up with Blur and Oasis. There was also the neopunk from Green Day and a flourishing heavy metal scene. ”As soon as a style diversifies so widely, an umbrella term like rock just doesn't work anymore. "There will then no longer be a new megatrend within the genre - diversification itself is the megatrend."

It is interesting that this last megatrend coincides with the time when Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, the last prototypical rock star, dies. Perhaps this is the consoling message for rock fans: Rock is not dead. If anything, then the rock star! But this does not mean the deaths of Kurt Cobain, Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, Tom Petty and other genre greats. No, the rock god is meant as a mythically inflated figure. In our democratized music world he simply has no more place. And maybe that's not so tragic at all!


Turned off the power

Jimi Hendrix played them behind his back and with his tongue. In Monterey he knocked his Fender Stratocaster on the stage floor and set the remains on fire: “You sacrifice the things you love: I love my guitar.” The rock star and his electric guitar, they had a very special relationship for decades. Today the instrument seems to have lost its attractiveness. In 2010, for the first time in decades, more acoustic than electric guitars were sold in the US. Even the most successful guitarists under 40 can no longer be found in rock. British pop star Ed Sheeran is an example. Fender guitar company executive Andy Mooney believes the most influential guitarist is now a guitarist: Taylor Swift. She also plays acoustic guitar and is a real role model, especially for girls. (the)


Published in the supraregional section