Ron Onesti: The staying power of OUR music

  • A young fan enjoys listening to Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss, left, whose hits were first played on the radio in the 1970s.

    A young fan enjoys listening to Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss, left, whose hits were first played on the radio in the 1970s. Courtesy of Onesti Entertainment Corp.

Posted5/24/2019 11:32 AM

I have a 14-year-old daughter. She loves her music, and so do her friends and cousins the of same age. Of course, much of it is what's out now … Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars and the others who have captured the ears of the current teen generation.

What is amazing to me is just how many of that age group listens to Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. That is music that came out 50-plus years ago!


I was 14 in 1976. Aside from having parents from the World War II era, I was not into Big Band music of the 1940s, or Doo Wop music of the '50s. Well, maybe a little. I loved the television show "Sha Na Na" and its '50s remakes! As much as that music is truly part of the musical fabric of the world, it wasn't something that excited me at that age.

At The Arcada, where we have become the central gathering place for all music from the Roaring Twenties through the 1980s, every audience has its share of preteens and teens sporting their own concert shirts of the Who, Aerosmith and AC/DC. It is so cool for me personally to welcome families who "rock" together, and when parents and grandparents share special musical memories with their teenagers.

We recently had the extreme pleasure of hosting a Queen tribute show with Marc Martell, the voice of many songs in the blockbuster film "Bohemian Rhapsody." I asked him why he thinks the music of Queen and the legacy of Freddie Mercury are as popular now as they were when the hits first came out.

"Freddie's music, as it is with much of the music of that era, really touched people, from a messaging standpoint. And musically, its structure was real. Harmonies, chords, power vocals and melodies. That music attacks the brain and resonates in the soul. I'm not sure if that could be said with today's music," he said.

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Of course, there is the fact that many "baby boomer" parents have shared THEIR music with their kids and shared the live music experience with them, as well. I have had countless dads come in with their 12-year-old sons to a UFO concert and moms bringing their daughters to a Pat Benatar show. Moms rockin' with their sons at Bret Michaels shows and entire families coming to Foreigner concerts.

My daughter attended a Katy Perry concert where the theatrics, special effects, costuming and electronic music was an awesome experience. But will she share this memory with HER daughter? Or will she be singing The Beatles' "Twist And Shout" while getting ready for work and her kids get ready for school?

Every year for at least the next 10 years, there will be countless "50th Anniversary" tours, rockumentaries and box sets that will come out chronicling all genres of music. That just goes to show just how powerful OUR music really is! These guys and gals are STILL out, playing the tunes we grew up with, and sounding great! Some are even releasing NEW music!

I can't imagine (and I really don't want to visualize) a Justin Bieber 50th Anniversary tour!

So here's to the heroes of OUR music. Check out as many live performances as you can. And instead of giving that V-neck sweater or Target gift certificate to your grandkids, nieces and nephews for their birthdays, get them a concert ticket to a live show, anywhere!

Not only will THEY thank you, but so will THEIR grandkids, nieces and nephews!

• Ron Onesti is president and CEO of The Onesti Entertainment Corp. and The Historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Celebrity questions and comments? Email

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