So little time, so many anniversaries

ON THE B-SIDE: SO, it was 20 years ago today. Or maybe 25. Actually, make that 30. I’m talking anniversaries.

There must be one this week, even today. Hang on, give me 30 seconds on Google. Yep, there you go: Elvis Presley was honorably discharged from the Army 41 years ago today.

We all love a good anniversary. By that I mean we, the media. I don’t know about you guys. You might not even care.

You might call it laziness, or dwelling in the past. The thing is, though, it’s a good way of writing about, making a programme of or digging up pictures of something we love.

It’s neat, adds a little newsworthiness and offers up a peg to hang a new story on an old one. We’re in the thick of Beatles season at the moment. Last month it was the 50th anniversary since the first Cavern gig. Did you see the “I was there” programme? Don’t worry, there will be plenty to come – first single, first number one, the American invasion, all anniversary-ripe with a nice round, landmark number.


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The front end of the decade is loaded up, particularly with the John Lennon birthday and murder anniversaries just gone (which presents a fly in the ointment of media anniversaries - which one do you spill all your ink on?).

Before you point the finger of hypocrisy, yes, I know, I wrote a Lennon anniversary piece at the end of last year on a somewhat bizarre visit to Suffolk (we went for the death date, rather morbidly).

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But so what? I loved writing it and I’m by no means saying anniversaries aren’t worth marking or celebrating, or at least remembering. If it’s about something that lots of people love, then there’s the problem?

Well, there’s not really. But maybe we should be a little less structured and regulated with our history. Why, I did an anniversary feature on Led Zeppelin playing a swimming baths in Ipswich early last year because I looked into it and became fascinated by it. I was never going to wait the 18 months for the 40th anniversary (actually, mark the diary up for that).

If something’s worth writing about, should be really wait for a neat anniversary? I guess the answer should be ‘no’, but then again, I can’t help looking for what’s coming up.

So what have we got this year, aside from The Beatles? Well, 50 years ago it’s looking a little threadbare. Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall?!

If we’re talking 40, then the anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death is looming as is George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh, some of the major events of 1971.

For 30, how about the death of the original rock n’roller, Bill Haley, in 1981. And look out for all the tribute programmes to Freddie Mercury towards the end of the year, as it will be 20 years since his death.

All significant anniversaries, all worth marking. You’ll hear a lot about all of them, no doubt.

But I think it’s just time to be a little more choosy over our diary dates. Go mad on the big ones, sure, but with some of them maybe we should make do with a roll of the eyes, a shake of the head and wondering if it has really been so long.

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