As home to the Dead, Big Brother, Quicksilver, Steve Miller, etc., it could be rightly argued that the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame belongs in San Francisco and not Cleveland.
Frisco was always about rebellion and it didn't matter if it was the kids on Haight-Ashbury, the Hell Angels, or left-leaning politics. The Bay Area single-handedly launched psychedelic rock onto an unsuspecting generation of music fans. "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" summed up the Woodstock generation better than any other artists' work at Woodstock. The band's internal and external exploits were regularly revealed in the pages of a young Rolling Stone magazine (thanks in part to the then-new notion of a woman fronting a rock band). Grace Slick and company became counterculture icons and the band itself would continue to evolve and impact the rock music world for a few more decades.
Get Your Wings
Steve Tyler and band were being hailed as the new Rolling Stones upon the release of this, their second album. Much of the country was still listening to disco when this album appeared in record stores and it was the one in which Aerosmith found its own trademark sound, thanks in a big way to producer Jack Douglas. The sleaze and the swagger came together with the songwriting and even a retread like the Yardbirds' classic "Train Kept a Rollin'" sounded like something altogether new and out of control.
Together with the Allman Brothers and Marshall Tucker Band, Lynyrd Skynrd led the second uprising of the South. If Webster had a definition for "biker music," the Second Helping album cover would be next to the term. And no songs define the biker credo as much as "Call Me The Breeze" and "Sweet Home Alabama." While the South probably could have won the war if General Lee had these boys to galvanize the troops, make no mistake, this ain't unsophisticated redneck music. The guys weren't singing songs in support of Jim Crow but in support of regional pride and just plain ol' having a good time. Helped immensely by the band's twin guitar assault, the exceptional song writing skills of Ronnie Van Zandt, and the production talents of Al Kooper, it was almost enough to make the Confederate flag socially acceptable.
Creedence Clearwater Revival
It was never obvious how a musician from San Francisco became so enamored of the Spanish moss-infused bayou of Louisiana, but on Bayou Country, John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival managed to somehow channel the musical influences of the Big Easy into one big sprawling swampy gumbo. Amazing how much substance can be found in a skimpy seven tracks, but when you have songs like "Born on a Bayou" and "Proud Mary," not much else remains to be said. This was an album of all meat and no filler, and set Creedence on an amazing run of multiple hit albums and singles.
Some may have been expecting another foray into the blues, but Disraeli Gears proved to the masses that, like the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream was a power trio bent on raising a mighty ruckus. Deep Purple had yet to master true heavy metal fundamentals when Cream, who survived only two years as a band, was connecting with psychedelic-fueled audiences from London to San Francisco. Clapton, Bruce, and Baker had crafted one of the all-time greatest quintessential rock albums.
Axis: Bold As Love
On their second outing, the Hendrix Experience displayed the full range of Jimi's creativity and musicianship. Whereas the first album featured neatly contained singles, Axis: Bold As Love let Jimi's freak flag fly and gave way to spacey, exploratory compositions that challenged a listener's auditory powers. Songs like "You Got Me Floating," "If 6 Were 9," and "EXP" most certainly sounded better under the influence of controlled substances (not that we endorse this type of behavior). They balance nicely against songs like "Little Wing" and "Castles Made of Sand." Even the album cover itself invited hours of careful scrutiny. Not only did Jimi raise the bar, he literally launched it into space.