In 1973 I was just a little kid of 11 years old, sharing a room with my older brother. His musical tastes ran with the Eagles, James Taylor, CCR, etc. I was not yet into music much, and would rather have been looking at books about space and airplanes. However, I always had an ear tuned to the radio when he would turn in on as we went to bed. He had a thing where he would tape songs off the radio, log them and listen to them later. His favorite was KAAY in Little Rock, Arkansas. During the day KAAY was a top 40 station, but starting at 11 p.m. through 6 a.m., the signal was boosted and the real rock and roll began on the radio program, Beaker Street.
By the end of 1973 I had my own room and a new radio and tape recorder. I tuned into to Beaker Street and stayed up late listening to the music. I heard Rush when "Working Man" had just been released, Blue Oyster Cult way before they hit big with "Don't Fear the Reaper." They played Peter Frampton, "Do You Feel Like I Do" before he beacame a household name and everyone was buying it. Beaker Street was one step ahead of mainstream radio.
Here are a few artists I discovered: Robin Trower - they played "Bridge of Sighs." He had me at the opening riff of the song! Led Zepplin - I knew who they were, but REALLY got into them after hearing "No Quarter" off of the The Song Remains the Same. Utopia - Todd Rundgrens band. Steve Miller Band - they were playing "Fly Like an Eagle" which I quickly ran and bought. A few months later it was on mainstream radio. Alan Parsons Project, UFO, Tommy Bolin and many others.
Of course, it was Beaker Street that played the Allman Brothers Band at 1 a.m. on a late December night in 1973, when I awoke from a dream and turned on the radio to hear the most incredible sound I had ever heard: Duane Allman playing the solo on "You Don't Love Me" from the Fillmore East album. This few minutes changed my musical life. Before this, I had a few albums - Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and a handful of cassettes. I had always wanted to play guitar, but put it off. This night changed that.
Anyways, the DJ never did tell who was playing that song! In the morning, I asked my brother, who was up at the same time. He told me he thought he heard the Allman Brothers Band. I had no idea who they were, even though the were very popular at the time. Once I knew that,I bought the albums (thanks to my mom who never seemed to mind buying them) and starting soaking all this great music in. I bought a guitar from a friend and started to teach myself to play.
To this day, I still love to pick up one of my guitars and just play it for a few hours. I never played pro, and have no regrets about that. I continue to love music, old and new, and appreciate the amount of work an artist puts into keeping us entertained!
The point of this post is that if it were not for radio programs like KAAY's Beaker Street, I probably would never have started to play music. So thank you to whoever started it up. The program influenced myself and countless others to start making music.
As I researched this I came across many others who had the same experience as I did. The author of this article sums up my feelings and even did a great list of the songs he discovered.
There is a Beaker Street Facebook page, as well.
Someone has posted an audio clip of Beaker Street!
A Youtube clip with the DJ Clyde Clifford
This is the music they played in the background between songs!