Few cities in America could claim the kind of live music scene that Boston enjoyed over the last quarter of the 20th century. From the Garden and the Paradise to the Channel and Chet’s Last Call, Steve Morse and Jim Sullivan covered it all for the Globe. On the last weekend of September, they were both inducted into the New England Music Hall of Fame.
This year’s NEMHOF honorees also included Robin Lane, the Atlantics, Human Sexual Response, and two late members of Boston, Brad Delp and Sib Hashian. At the awards show at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, veteran radio personalities Henry Santoro, Carter Alan, and ChaChi Loprete shared the presenting duties, with music from Lizzie Borden & the Axes. That band played its first gigs at the Rat and CBGB 40 years ago.
“I’d forgotten how hard she rocks,” Morse said of Borden and her band.
Morse retired from the Globe in 2006, but he’s still rocking. For 13 years he has taught the Rock History course he developed at Berklee College of Music.
His students’ opinions about the classic rock era have evolved since he began teaching the class, Morse said. He recalls one student telling him, “I’m only taking your course because I want to find some good beats.”
But contemporary students raised on hip-hop — which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year — can appreciate the longevity of rock’s old guard, he said. As a young man, he saw all the larger-than-life stars of the era: the Rolling Stones at the Manning Bowl in Lynn, Jimi Hendrix at Brown University, Janis Joplin at Harvard Stadium.
“When I grew up in the ‘60s, there were all those blues guys, many who were in their 70s,” he recalled. “We worshiped those guys.
“Ageism came in strong with MTV, but today I think it’s different. Metallica is still playing stadiums. The Stones’ longevity is really impressive to the kids.”
There was a time when he was one of those young people, hoping to parlay his love for rock ‘n’ roll into a paying gig.
“I was able to talk my way into the Globe in the mid-’70s,” he said. Over the years, the paper built a deep bench of writers covering the music world, including Scott Alarik, Susan Wilson, and Bill Flanagan. But it was Morse and Sullivan who anchored the group.
Sullivan (no relation to this writer) was on staff at the Globe from 1988-2005. He recently published a book, “Backstage & Beyond: 45 Years of Classic Rock Chats and Rants.” A second volume, “Backstage & Beyond: 45 Years of Modern Rock Chats and Rants,” is due Oct. 19.
Morse typically covered the mainstream acts, with Sullivan often handling the club scene.
“We were a good one-two punch,” Morse said.
James Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him @sullivanjames.