The Day The Music Died

Rock Band screenshot

With today's release of Don McLean's "American Pie", Harmonix is ending its weekly releases of DLC songs for the Rock Band series.

The tale of the tape is astounding. 281 consecutive weekly releases, and over 130 million songs sold through the Rock Band store since 2007. In terms of cultural impact, its effect has been immeasurable.

I was late to the Rock Band party. My household had done Guitar Hero on the PS2, but I had downplayed that sort of thing when we moved to the 360 due to the fact that we lived in an apartment and we already did enough stuff that would annoy the neighbors. But I got a kickin' deal on a full The Beatles: Rock Band set, a couple extra mics, and the base Rock Band game. The rest, as they say, has been history.

The rhythm game genre in general, and Rock Band in particular, was instrumental in broadening my children's music base. Until they picked up their first plastic guitar, my kids referred to my CD rack as "The Crypt" because it was where music went to die. They wouldn't have touched anything in it for love or money. A few days after we got the game, my B.B. King CD was missing from its case, and before too long the wind was whistling through the empty slots.

It didn't hurt my horizons either. Having never been angry, young, or male, I'd sort of skipped over a lot of popular music. But having those there made me take a listen to things that I would never have heard if I'd had a choice. In many cases it simply confirmed that a particular piece or band wasn't for me, but I did find a few gems of my own.

A lot of people were worried at the outset that it would prevent kids from learning real instruments. My experience was the exact opposite. I know a now professional musician who got his start on my drum-set. Sitting down behind them at Youth Group one night took him up on the stage. He realized that he could not only listen to the music, he could make it himself. That struck a chord in him that has yet to fade away.

In many ways, it truly is the day the music died. But just as you can still go find Buddy Holly's work and enjoy it, Rock Band will still be cluttering up my living room with plastic instruments. The Rock Band Network isn't going away, and the over 4,000 songs already available in the catalog will still be there, ready to add to your collection.

As for me and mine, we are grateful for the way Harmonix has gone way beyond other companies in actively supporting their game for six years. We still get a great deal of mileage out of the game. I'm looking forward to see what Harmonix is going to get up to next.

Comments

Wow ... amazing story MomGamer! We got some of the various plastic guitar stuff for the kids (Wii & X360) ... and it is all just occupying space in the basement at this point.

What an amazing legacy - I still get the notifications, but have never bought a weekly song.281 weeks? Amazing!

Yeah, I couldn't really believe it had been that long. I had to do the math. It makes me feel old.

And I just got my pro guitar back in the fall when it was on a super sale.

Definitely filled out my catalog with upgraded pro tracks the last few months, and still having fun with RB3. It's the one game my wife will always play with me.

I gave away some of the plastic instruments, but I still love singing with my wife in RB3 and RB:Beatles.

I love Harmonix for making the genre credible, and I've had tons of great entertainment from my Rock Band library, BUT it's been awhile since I've been fully able to get the right experience. Why? Because most of the guitars are junk that stops working after a few hundred hours. Maybe I'm too rough on them while playing? The keys wear out, the strum bars go soft, the tilt stops workong, the detachable necks stop electrically connecting...I want to keep enjoying more Rock Band but it's too expensive to need a new $75 guitar every year, so I stopped. If anyone can point me to one that won't wear out like that, I'll gladly put more time in.

Incidentally, did they ever finally release Hey Jude for The Beatles? I checked for it constantly when they were announcing the first DLC but gave up eventually.

Man, I do not want to actually look back and calculate how much money I've spent on Rock Band over the past 5+ years.

I played the hell out of Guitar Hero (at least when Harmonix made it) but once RB came out, I was all RB all the time. I don't think I've ever played a game continuously for as long as the RB series, and it's brought me some great times and great memories singing with my wife and friends. It's the reason I have an electronic drum kit now, and why I started playing a little guitar and bass on the side, although that was more through Rocksmith since I think it's better at that particular niche. Still, RB got me more into music, both music I never would have listened to, and playing music itself.

Harmonix, you set the bar for music games, as far as I'm concerned. From the DLC-based business model with a record amount of content, to carrying over songs from the previous games into the new ones. I expect these things as standard features on all other music games now. This was a great choice for a final song, and I'll miss you guys!

I've always had a minor interest in learning guitar, but Guitar Hero and Rock Band sparked an interest that is finally coming to fruition this year. Oddly enough, as different as it is, those plastic instruments did manage to teach me about hammer-ons and pull-offs, or at least the idea of them. So there's that.

But in truth, it was a great way to just have everyone gather around and find a common share of music to enjoy. It was also the only game that non-gamers would sit around and be all "Oh my God you're so GOOD!" watching me play, as opposed to "what else is going on now that the TV is occupied?" It was a weird feeling.

My kids went through a month or two where all they wanted to do was play Rock Band. It was glorious. That was a few years ago, but, to this day, my eight-year-old daughter's favorite band is Iron Maiden thanks to "Run to the Hills" on RB3. Great game, had loads of fun in all sorts of ways.

That being said, lordy, do I loathe "American Pie"; Buddy Holly is the guy who really "gets" rock-n-roll first. He's the guy who writes his own insanely catchy pop songs, comes up with great riffs, has the standard rhythm/lead/bass/drums quartet, and really defines rock-n-roll. And people remember him because of this godawful, bloated, never-ending ten-minute piece of crap that simply never ends. The guy who mastered the three-minute pop song like few people ever have deserves better.

/offtopicrant

Buddy Holly was the grandfather of pop punk. Green Day should build him a shrine.

momgamer wrote:

Having never been angry, young, or male, I'd sort of skipped over a lot of popular music. But having those there made me take a listen to things that I would never have heard if I'd had a choice. In many cases it simply confirmed that a particular piece or band wasn't for me, but I did find a few gems of my own.

Having never been young...? Or did music just not exist back then?

I am curious what musical discoveries you and others have made through Rock Band. I personally discovered a lot of music new to me through downloading custom songs for Stepmania prior to the plastic instrument craze.

*waves lighter in the air*

With the publishers having bled the well dry, I really have to wonder if anyone is going to have the desire to try and bring Rock Band (or Guitar Hero) back in the next generation. If so, this is truly the end of an era

MilkmanDanimal wrote:

That being said, lordy, do I loathe "American Pie"; Buddy Holly is the guy who really "gets" rock-n-roll first. He's the guy who writes his own insanely catchy pop songs, comes up with great riffs, has the standard rhythm/lead/bass/drums quartet, and really defines rock-n-roll. And people remember him because of this godawful, bloated, never-ending ten-minute piece of crap that simply never ends. The guy who mastered the three-minute pop song like few people ever have deserves better.

/offtopicrant

The Big Bopper was robbed!

Rock Band was a feature of my life for a good many years, but to be honest, it's been dead in my house a good year ago. The drums got moved down to the basement after not being used for several months, and while I don't doubt that the wife and I will pull it out occasionally, the sheen faded long before the drip-feed of DLC dried up.

To counter that negativity, I can say with no doubt that the Rock Band series has been the franchise that I've played more than any other, in terms of hours, as well as purest enjoyment. It was epic, and now it's done.

For me, Rock Band:The Beatles was the pinnacle of the series. I really wished that it was supported further than it was.

Aristophan wrote:

For me, Rock Band:The Beatles was the pinnacle of the series. I really wished that it was supported further than it was.

Definitely. I have numerous RB and GH games, but when I fancy playing one, it is always Beatles. I will always love that game for reawakening my Beatles obsession after it had gone into remission for several years.

spider_j wrote:
Aristophan wrote:

For me, Rock Band:The Beatles was the pinnacle of the series. I really wished that it was supported further than it was.

Definitely. I have numerous RB and GH games, but when I fancy playing one, it is always Beatles. I will always love that game for reawakening my Beatles obsession after it had gone into remission for several years.

Let me guess: You're not drummers.

wordsmythe wrote:
spider_j wrote:
Aristophan wrote:

For me, Rock Band:The Beatles was the pinnacle of the series. I really wished that it was supported further than it was.

Definitely. I have numerous RB and GH games, but when I fancy playing one, it is always Beatles. I will always love that game for reawakening my Beatles obsession after it had gone into remission for several years.

Let me guess: You're not drummers. :P

Aesthetically, RB:B has a unified vision and experimental feel to it that isn't matched by the others.

Having never been angry, young, or male

That cracked me up.

Tanglebones wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
spider_j wrote:
Aristophan wrote:

For me, Rock Band:The Beatles was the pinnacle of the series. I really wished that it was supported further than it was.

Definitely. I have numerous RB and GH games, but when I fancy playing one, it is always Beatles. I will always love that game for reawakening my Beatles obsession after it had gone into remission for several years.

Let me guess: You're not drummers. :P

Aesthetically, RB:B has a unified vision and experimental feel to it that isn't matched by the others.

Only because they never made a RB around another band.

Trivia: I once almost gave Cory a stroke by telling him that the Monkees outdid the Beatles.

wordsmythe wrote:

Only because they never made a RB around another band.

They didn't?

wordsmythe wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
spider_j wrote:
Aristophan wrote:

For me, Rock Band:The Beatles was the pinnacle of the series. I really wished that it was supported further than it was.

Definitely. I have numerous RB and GH games, but when I fancy playing one, it is always Beatles. I will always love that game for reawakening my Beatles obsession after it had gone into remission for several years.

Let me guess: You're not drummers. :P

Aesthetically, RB:B has a unified vision and experimental feel to it that isn't matched by the others.

Only because they never made a RB around another band.

Trivia: I once almost gave Cory a stroke by telling him that the Monkees outdid the Beatles.

You mean other than Rock Band: Green Day? Not a joke; this was a thing. I own it. It's okay, if you like Green Day.

I picked up RB:Green Day when it dropped to $20 at the local Best Buy, but have never gotten the export code to work right :/

And to this day, Green Day is the single band with the most songs in the RB catalog.

I'm not sure how hard everyone else is on their equipment, but I'm still rocking with my OG Rock Band 2 set of gear. The drums (with cymbal expansion!), two guitars, and mic still perform flawlessly after hundreds of hours of RB2, RB3, and RB:GD.

Think I'll break the drums out this weekend and give her a fond farewell.

McIrishJihad wrote:

I'm not sure how hard everyone else is on their equipment, but I'm still rocking with my OG Rock Band 2 set of gear.

Yeah, I still have my old wired Rock Band (1) Guitar, but I did upgrade to the Rock Band 3 drums. I have to admit, I got a little choked up singing "American Pie" on Tuesday; it's been a great, great run, Harmonix, and I don't regret the money I have spent on Rock Band over the last five years.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

Only because they never made a RB around another band.

They didn't?

Huh. I don't know if I forgot about that or never caught it. Probably the former.

I used to like Green Day. Out of respect for their first three albums, I will not press my case.

Yeah I got the Green Day disc, exported the songs to RB3, and got rid of it. Have little need for the actual game.

Still working with RB Beatles equipment here, that has held up very well. Also one old Guitar Hero guitar... maybe was a bundle with Band Hero? Something like that.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

They didn't?

No, they didn't....didn't make another game after RB: Beatles about an actual band. If I wanted to hear a few kids make as much noise and nonsense as possible, I'd record the sounds of a daycare.

My wife and I only stopped playing when the baby was born, nine months ago. Well, "stopped" is too final—we're only on hiatus. We're still rocking RB2-era gear with cymbals, plus keyboard (and the Ion Rock Stool of course). I bet we played at least once every week or two, for years. The guitars are still in the living room. Can't wait to set up the drums again when bedtimes/living arrangements permit.

Keithustus wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

They didn't?

No, they didn't....didn't make another game after RB: Beatles about an actual band. If I wanted to hear a few kids make as much noise and nonsense as possible, I'd record the sounds of a daycare.

Pretty old for kids.

Thanks, Momgamer. I was having similar pangs of sadness this week. I went home and played American Pie to give the game a proper send-off, only to realize that I never really progressed my "band" very much in this version.

The music game phenomenon got going in the twilight years of my college experience. I'm astonished that it ran this long, and I have a special place in my heart for the Harmonix folks that really dedicated themselves to supporting the RB platform for so long. I'll always remember the E3 presentation to launch RB3.

There's also a sad finality to the idea that we'll one day run out of plastic instruments to play this game with.

We only stopped playing in my house because my kids both saved up for instruments, a real guitar and drum set respectively, which they still play regularly. I owe this game a lot of thanks.

Oh damn it, this video by the Harmonix guys hit me right in the feels ;_;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAtJp...

I started with Guitar Hero, due to Elysium raving about it somewhere on the site... Same revelation about "Holy crap, maybe I can make music : O ", still remember the moment I hit the first chord in "I Love Rock & Roll".

Now I have a guitar and play music and stuff. Haven't fired up Rock Band in a long time, but 2006-2009 I spent a lot of time playing plastic guitar and don't regret it for a bit : )