Turn it up to 11: tech's contributions to rock and roll

Many of rock's greatest moments hinge on shifts in music technology. Here is a chronology of some of the highlights.

Turn it up to 11: tech's contributions to rock and roll prev next


This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

A great stage production can do a lot to amplify the effect of a rock concert, but a crucial slip-up can severely detract from the overall experience. The tongue-in-cheek rockumentary "[[xref:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088258/|This Is Spinal Tap|This Is Spinal Tap]]" lampoons this hazard to great effect with the band's Stonehenge debacle: Lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel (played by Christopher Guest) decides to add a Stonehenge megalith prop to their concert to accompany their song "Stonehenge," but mislabels the measurements in his sketch and ends up with an 18-inch-high Stonehenge on stage instead of the 18-foot-tall version he had envisioned.

This [[xref:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xlf5ucFanpY|memorable scene|Spinal Tap Tiny Stonehenge]] alone must have scared an entire generation of fledgling rockers into learning the correct symbols for feet and inches prior to submitting prop requests (the action starts about 2 minutes in). Another technologically noteworthy scene in the movie occurs when most members of the band emerge from giant plastic pods to play onstage. Unfortunately, the pod containing the bassist (Derek Smalls, played by Harry Shearer) refuses to open until the end of the song, despite desperate attempts by roadies to pry it open.

Life imitated art for Irish rockers U2 in 1997 when a giant on-stage lemon mirror ball holding the entire band failed to open at a concert in Oslo, Norway.

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Turn it up to 11: tech's contributions to rock and roll

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