Every once in a while I see bumper stickers that read "Stuck in Ohio." As it turns out, "Stuck in Ohio" is not just a whiny slogan, but an Ohio-based production company focused on music and action sports culture.
I'm not so much concerned with the company as I am the attitude. I must note that typically the bumper sticker is affixed to the vehicle of a young person. Indeed, it is young people who often bemoan their status as Ohioans the loudest. Let's face it we're not in the "cool state club."
It's understandable with all the glitz, glamour, and vapid "coolness" peddled to youth through TV and social media that they are somewhat let down to see that real life is not filled with endless good times and wild adventures like their favorite scripted MTV reality show. One could try to explain to them that Ohio has produced historically important people and things which have changed the world: Astronauts, presidents, and the inventors of manned flight, just to name a few. Indeed, innovators, great minds, and great people of all sorts have been raised right here in Ohio. But young people are not easily impressed- after all why can't Ohio foster someone really important people like Snooki or a Kardashian?!?
Well, while Ohioians can't say they've produced human beings the caliber of the aforementioned " stars" (note the sarcasm), we can brag of having fostered a surprising amount of rock 'n' roll talent. Wait, do young people even like rock 'n' roll? Today's "hit" radio play would suggest they do not. But I digress. My point is young people have a tendency to overlook the rich rock 'n' roll history and the continuing tradition of rock 'n' roll music made in their own backyard.
Let's start with one current group that people may have heard of: The Blacks Keys. The Akron blues-rock duo shot to fame in recent years with a string of hits from their two newest albums "Brothers" and "El Camino," with the latter having recently won a Grammy for best Rock album. For years, the duo languished in relative obscurity playing small shows, while "stuck" in Ohio. Today, you hear their songs everywhere from sporting events to movie trailers, and they are probably millionaires at this point.
There are a few names in the Rock world that most Ohioians already know. The largely talentless shock rocker Marilyn Manson hails from Canton, as does the scratchy-voiced crooner Macy Gray. Dave Grohl, the drummer from Nirvana and the frontman for the Foo Fighters is from Warren. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails is from Cleveland, and R&B singer John Legend hails from Springfield.
The present and past music industry is peppered with Ohio musicians, though some times you just have to read the liner notes and look a little harder to find them.
Now let's delve into some of the lesser known but no less influential artists from Ohio.
How about Bootsy and Phelps "Catfish" Collins? These Cincinnati natives are widely considered the backbone of some of the best R&B bands of all time and pioneered the Funk and Soul sounds of the 60s and 70s as members of James Brown's backup band, the JB's and later Parliament Funkadelic.
Founding members of The Isely Brothers, Ernie and Ron Isely, are from Cincinnati, as well, and were instrumental in shaping the sound of the 60s and 70s R&B scene too.
Then there's Joe Walsh, originally the guitarist for the Ohio rock band The James Gang. The Cleveland native went on to achieve wider fame playing with The Eagles.
Rock guitar slinger Rick Derringer is an Ohio native. Hailing from Fort Recovery, he had his first hit, "Hang on Sloopy" at the age of 16 with the group The McCoys. Later in his career, he had a hit with the song "Rock n Roll, Hoochie Koo" and played with Johnny and Edgar Winter.
Of Course, one can't overlook female punk rocker Chrissie Hynde who hails from Akron and helped pave the way for coming generations of women in rock 'n' roll.
I could go on and on dropping names but the point I'm trying to make is that the "lame-old-Ohio" attitude prevalent amongst our area's, at times, despondent youth is not completely justified.
All of the people mentioned were at one time "Stuck in Ohio" and went on to create music and gain recognition. I'd say that's pretty "cool."
(Devin Bezeredi is a reporter for The Review. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org)