In the early 1970s the outlaws of the West were romanticized and very much in fashion. This played out in the music and was echoed in the style of the day.
The dawn of the ‘70s Western rock music was on albums by Eagles, James Gang, Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker Band and the Outlaws. These bands all wrote songs about cowboys, desperados, horses and riding the range.
Eagles (they did not want to be called THE Eagles) released an album in 1973 called “Desperado,” with the band members on the cover all dressed in cowboy garb, replete with bandoleers of bullets. This album moved the band from the romantic acoustic sound they were known for into the electric era and a new sound.
Guitar hero Joe Walsh rode into town with his backing band, the James Gang. Their big song, “Rocky Mountain Way,” branded them as the Colorado Cowboys of FM stations across the country.
Charlie Daniels was a Southern rocker who took to the stage with a vest and 10-gallon hat as he played the fiddle. Charlie was a consummate storyteller with songs like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “Long-Haired Country Boy,” and “Uneasy Rider.”
“Uneasy Rider” sums up the ‘70s culture perfectly. It is the story of a long-haired young man driving his Chevy out west to Los Angeles, where he has a perilous encounter in a town full of rednecks. His Chevy gets a flat in their town. It all goes south when he takes off his cowboy hat and his long hair falls out.
The Marshall Tucker Band had the market cornered with Western titles like “Cattle Drive,” “Long Hard Ride,” and “Searching for a Rainbow.”
Their band featured the Caldwell brothers, Toy and Tommy. Toy played lead guitar and wrote the songs; Tommy played bass. They both played with their thumbs and were known as the thundering thumbs.
Finally the Outlaws, a guitar army with two lead guitars who could play extended jams. The most famous of these was the song “Green Grass and High Tides.” It had to be the favorite in all of Sennett Hall in Machias.
The fashion of the day was heavily influenced by the old West as well. Jeans for young men and women. Western boots for men and women were very common. Here in the Midcoast, a Camden store was churning out the must-have article for men and women: the leather vest.
This was also the high time for Rockland fishermen. Their girlfriends would stake out a nice vest at the shop, and when their man came ashore his first stop was to pay it off.
For me, my outfit would be a checked flannel shirt, jeans and a pocket watch on a nice piece of rawhide. Boots with shoe buttons on my feet.
The accessory of the day for the guys was a buck knife in a leather holster.
ONE LAST RIDE
In August of 2017 Chuck Kruger booked the Outlaws to play on Fisherman’s Memorial Pier in Rockland. He was kind enough to arrange for me to meet the band before the show and take my photo with them.
The band played to a meager crowd, but no matter. They played like they were in front of a stadium. The sound system seemed focused on the breakwater. The weather threatened a storm off and on all during the performance.
By the time the encore rolled around, it was pouring.
The encore was “Green Grass and High Tides,” and the whole band came to the front of the stage and played an extended jam in the rain.
Who says you can never go back?
Glenn Billington is a lifelong resident of Rockland and has worked for The Courier-Gazette and The Free Press since 1989. Email Glenn at: firstname.lastname@example.org.