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TV: R is for...

Rock’n’Roll Years, The

PREEMPTING THE keenness of all VT editors to stick a pumping soundtrack of the day behind anything recorded, albeit in a more measured fashion, the changing face of pop was measured out in newsreel footage that eventually covered 1956 to 1980 inclusive. Trevor Dann’s idea, apparently. Inspired by the baby boomers and inventing the TV easy uncritical nostalgia boom, so has a lot to answer for.



  1. Paul

    March 13, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Biafra, overlaid with Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” made me cry.

  2. Droogie

    March 13, 2016 at 2:57 am

    This was a great show! It may look hackneyed now, but for a bored 80’s teenage kid fascinated by the 60’s it was a wonderful opportunity to see a lot of classic rock TV performances for the first time ever. 1967 and seeing the Doors perform Light My Fire on the Ed Sullivan Show especially sticks in the memory.

  3. Richard16378

    March 14, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    I also really liked it, & still have some on video.

    There was a later series covering 1981-9.

    It would be great if they made some more.

  4. Droogie

    March 15, 2016 at 2:03 am

    I can only guess modern copyright issues regarding the music and the band clips stops this show being repeated

  5. Richard16378

    March 15, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    I guess the same applies to the semi spin-off The Rock & Goal Years, profiling a football season with the songs from the time playing in the background.

  6. Des E

    March 16, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    RTE’s Reeling in the Years is a straight copy. Unsurprisingly its producer, John O’Regan, was the music editor on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Years.

  7. Paul Bovey

    December 30, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Some apt choices of songs, such as ‘Invisible Touch’ played over Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ in the 1986 episode.

  8. Glenn Aylett

    November 13, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    It was often shown opposite Coronation St, or on Friday evenings in the mid eighties. I can remember them featuring 1975 and Kraftwerk appearing on Tomorrow’s World and Yes playing at Tintagel with giant keyboards and wizards hats.
    I’m sure The Rock And Goal Years was Granada, not BBC, and rather than news, mixed music with football events from a certain year.

    • Sidney Balmoral James

      November 13, 2021 at 7:19 pm

      It would have been Rick Wakeman without his Yes colleagues at Tintagel, playing The Myths and Legends of King Arthur etc. Rock and Roll Years was extremely watchable, although it did seem to offer a lot of footage of atrocities and accidents backed by mournful music (example: death of Wolfgang von Trips at Monza in 1961, accompanied by Johnny Remember Me by John Leyton) giving a slightly morbid picture of the past.

      • THX 1139

        November 13, 2021 at 9:33 pm

        “Slightly morbid” is an understatement, it was a chapter of accidents from start to finish, all the disaster porn news junkies could want. With the hits of the day over them. Just shows you how we measure history: “How many people died this time?”

        • Richardpd

          November 13, 2021 at 10:18 pm

          Something the writers of The Day Today Were aware of when they featured a video of war footage set to the beat of 1000 pop classics such as You Really Got Me & Burn Baby Burn! Bang after bang after bang!

          • THX 1139

            November 13, 2021 at 10:28 pm

            Yes! There was a 1970s movie called All This and World War 2 that collected a number of WW2 clips and put cover versions of Beatles tracks over them, I do wonder if that was an influence on the RnRY?

  9. Richardpd

    November 13, 2021 at 2:33 pm

    The Rock And Goal Years might have been on ITV, there was also Match of the 70s around the same time, which I think was a BBC show, but didn’t feature music.

  10. THX 1139

    November 13, 2021 at 11:05 pm

    Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? about the 1930s Depression told in vintage clips form may have been another influence on RnRY.

  11. Glenn Aylett

    November 14, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    @ Richardpd, can’t remember Match of the 70s, although my interest in football was zero, so probably didn’t watch it.
    Also wasn’t there a Radio 1 equivalent in the mid eighties that mixed BBC Radio news clips with hits from a certain year?

  12. Tom Ronson

    March 31, 2022 at 3:08 am

    Great series, one that should ideally be repeated in perpetuity. The revolving guitars on the Abbey Road crossing is an iconic image.

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