’80s Rock lecture offers in-depth study of decade

Students at the College were transported back to the time of hair bands, Milli Vanilli and the birth of MTV during the “80s Rock- Music in the Video Age” event held Friday night in the Rathskeller.

The ’80s Rock event, sponsored by CUB-Rat, featured hundreds of slides containing clips of interviews, music, commercials, pictures and more from the musical artists who shaped the decade of the 1980s. In addition to the visual portion of the event, ’80s Rock also featured commentary by Barry Drake, who is considered to be one of rock music’s foremost historians.

Drake is a former professional musician who was signed to Capitol Records in 1970. During the following decade, Drake dedicated his time to recording three albums and extensively touring the United States and Europe.

In 1984, Drake added rock & roll lectures to his live performances. He explained how he came to focus his livelihood solely on his musical lectures.

“Over the course of your life, you find all these dreams about what you want to do,” Drake said. “After I was signed to Capitol Records, I became interested in different aspects of the music, including its history. I used to make it a part of my concerts, but now I just do (the lectures alone). I’m lucky because I found a love of music and I was able to do it all.”

In addition to the ’80s Rock presentation, Drake has also created interactive lectures on the decades of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. He said that rock & roll is a unique and important part of history.

“Rock & roll music was the first music that was democratically American,” Drake said. “Americans aren’t one people; we’re all different, and rock & roll was the first time that the music spoke to everyone.”

Drake also explained that in order to truly appreciate the music, you must understand the history behind it.

“Music is the main thing that changes our lives,” he said. “You decide who you are by what you listen to. When you’re growing up, you can reject your parent’s ideals, but you can find a musical artist that you identify with. You need to understand the history of the music to make the right choices.”

CUBRat co-chair Mary Mamrak feels that events such as ’80s Rock are a different source of entertainment for students.

“I think students enjoy this type of event because who doesn’t love the ’80s?” Mamrak, sophomore elementary education/English major, said. “We are all babies of the ’80s and love to play around with the decade’s music and clothing. . We thought this would be a great way to incorporate music and history into the Rat.”

Drake agreed with Mamrak’s viewpoint that this type of performance is both beneficial and fun.

“College students need to see this,” Drake, who has been voted Campus Lecturer of the Year five times by The National Association for Campus Activities and three times by Campus Activities Magazine, said. “I know the image they have of the different decades. To them, the 1950s were all about poodle skirts and “American Bandstand,” but it’s so much more than that. I want to show them the way that it really happened and I can do that because I lived through all of the decades of rock & roll.”

Drake said that he and his wife/manager Pat have been looking forward to performing this particular show at the College for a special reason: Pat is an alumnus. According to Pat, returning to the College brings back special memories about her time here.

“What I remember most about my college experience are the concerts we used to have on campus,” she said. “Artists like Bonnie Rait, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel played here while I was in school. Of course, I remember spending time with my friends, but it’s the music that has really stayed with me.”