Skip to main content

Memory’s Foggy Lane

June 2024
1min read

I enjoyed Peter Braunstein’s article on the disco revolution of the 1960s and 1970s (November). Purists may turn up their noses at such articles, but having grown up during that period, I found it a wonderful walk down (fuzzy) memory lane.

Permit me to add two points in regard to the end of disco around 1980. First, I don’t think you can discuss the death of disco without at least mentioning the role punk rock played in its demise. The punks took aim at the plasticity and shallowness of disco as much as, if not more than, they did at the arrogance and pomposity of the art-rock crowd (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, etc.). Second, while it is true that most hard-core rock fans of the seventies were content to sit in stoned somnolence listening to their favorite bands, there was always one classic rock band on the road during that period for which dancing (or groovin’, as it was called) was an essential part of the experience. I refer, of course, to the Grateful Dead, whose bacchanalian live shows had a lot more in common in disco than most Deadheads would ever care to admit. The Dead were always mistagged as a “psychedelic” band, but really they were never anything more, or less, than a hippie dance band, going back as far as Ken Kesey’s acid tests of 1965–66 and up to the bitter end in 1995.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.