The Summer of 1987
Livin' on a Prayer / Wild in the Streets
I discovered music in 1987. I was ten years old. My Dad used to work overseas, so my Mom would generally have me for the whole summer. Starting in 87 we began to visit her side of the family in Bray, Co. Wicklow. Bray is a seaside town slightly down the coast from Dublin in Ireland. It has a quaint Promenade in the style of UK cities like Blackpool, and a small mountain (Bray Head) which offers a view of Wales across the Irish Sea on clear days.
More importantly it allowed me to spend time with my cousins. One cousin in particular (Eugene), became a great friend of mine. I shared his room during those summers and my mind was blown by this poster on his wall:
I would learn a little bit more about these guys over the next few years. Eugene also had a fine collection of Rock and Metal LP’s and a turntable. I would come to realise later that some of those albums were actual all time classics. Over the course of my posts here I’ll try and remember all of them.
Vinyl is the best medium to enjoy album art. My innocent imagination was fired by album covers like this:
I was thrilled but also scared. As were a lot of parents back then. There was the whole Heavy Metal are Satanists stuff. Tipper Gore and the PMRC successfully lobbied to have ‘Parental Advisory’ labels (aka Tipper Stickers), placed on Albums that contained references to Sex, Violence, and Drug use.
What could the songs possibly be about in the above albums?
A guy riding a Motorcycle through a graveyard in an unsafe fashion?
The track lists were perplexing. On the Dio album there were song titles like ‘I Speed at Night’ (more unsafe driving) and ‘Evil Eyes’. On Meatloaf there was the track ‘Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad’. Two out of three what? My mind raced with possibilities. ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’ I assumed was about the cigarette lighter that all cars had on the dash back then.
I was afraid to play either of them until much later. The first record I picked out and played for myself was this:
This was the single release of what turned New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi into a commercial juggernaut. The B side was a jaunty tune called ‘Wild in the Streets’. I think it actually made a bigger impact on Ten year old me than the more famous A side. Wild was an immediate singalong crowd pleaser.
The album Slippery When Wet turned Bon Jovi into megastars. This was the peak of the hair metal glory days. Hysteria by Def Leppard was released towards the end of the summer. The single Animal was already on heavy rotation that summer both on radio and tv. Both bands got Tipper Stickers for their troubles.
However it wasn’t just the hair rockers that I was listening to that summer. 87 was in many ways the peak year for 80’s Pop. Here are some of the singles released that year:
Madonna - Who’s That Girl?
Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give You Up
Wet Wet Wet - Sweet Little Mystery
Los Lobos - La Bamba
U2 - Where The Streets Have No Name
Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Brunette Madonna was my first celebrity crush and I was entertaining notions of learning how to play one of those gigantic Mexican guitars. An Irish band were doing well. Anything was possible.
In my next post I’ll discuss some of the artists that influenced my current taste in music. Ultimately it came down to a battle between Mark Knopfler and Lemmy. Stay tuned to find out how important Dire Straits were to an 11 year old from the south of Ireland, and why Lemmy won.