The essential bus and tunes for a rockstar tour of the country
Freedom, the open road … and some rockin’ tunes to accompany the journey. This has been the dream of countless musicians; making the pilgrimage across the vast expanses of the USA, playing gigs along the way, meeting new friends and taking in the nation’s sights.
The romance of the road has long been documented by musical icons and up-and-comers alike. There is an inescapable attraction to the life of the rambling musician, days filled with writing and jam sessions, nights filled with hedonism and adventure. Nothing encapsulates the ‘life’ more than the tour bus itself – an icon of status and musical prowess alike, it holds itself as a central figure in the annals of musical history.
Touring has been an integral part of the music experience ever since the invention of recorded music. Few things can translate the energy, passion and rawness of a live performance more than being at a concert. Sadly, this year has meant that all tours have had to be cancelled or relocated to the digital sphere – leaving the whole infrastructure set up for the annual concert rounds parked and gathering dust.
This spells good news, however, for those that want to live out their rock n roll fantasies on the road- all tour buses that are normally reserved for the biggest bands in the world, are available and ready for rental. Why not rent one of these giant houses on wheels and cross the country like Dylan, the Stones or Zeppelin?
We have put together some of the coolest buses on offer and a short list of the 7 best ever live albums, recorded whilst on the road… enjoy and rock on!
Your tour bus
The industry leader with 35 years of rock n’ roll heritage. These luxury coaches come complete with 12 bunks, a queen bed suite, TVs, WiFi, showers, bathrooms, and galley and lounge areas.
These Star Coaches features the iconic Prevost XLII bus with double ‘slide-out’ extendable sides, 12-15 bunks, luxury interiors and plenty of storage.
Although not strictly rock n’ roll, this aggregator for all the best outdoor recreational vehicles in America can cater for all tastes. From a 60’s Bob Dylan-esque Airstream down to the classic band tour bus.
Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison (1968)
What better way to start this list than with the ‘Man in Black’? Johnny Cash recorded this iconic album inside the prison that inspired his hit ‘Folsom Prison Blues’. The album is credited for bringing back the star’s career and became a pivotal point in his musical development. Among the many popular songs featured on this record is ‘Greystone Chapel’, written by an actual prisoner within Folsom that Cash had met the night before.
Sam Cooke – Live at the Harlem Square Club (1963)
The Harlem Square Club was a club in Miami, Florida, popular with the fans of R&B, Jazz and Soul. Many big stars played here, but the night Sam Cooke preformed was said to be one of the most iconic nights in musical history and this album is the proof. Raw, powerful and filled with the energy of Cooke’s earth shattering vocals and the cheers of the crowd it stands as a giant in the pantheon of great live albums. Particularly poignant is that it wasn’t released by label RCA until 20 years after his untimely death.
Nirvana – MTV Unplugged in New York (1994)
MTV Unplugged series left us with some of the greatest live albums of all time. Pearl Jam, Eric Clapton, Aerosmith, Rod Stewart, Alanis Morriset… huge names participated, both covering songs from their favourite artists and contributing with their own material. However, no one left a mark bigger than Kurt Cobain’s Nirvana. Hauntingly melodic songs delivered by Cobain’s raspy voice were accompanied by a mellow Dave Grohl on drums and Kris Novoselic on bass. Sadly this was to be the band’s last album before Kurt’s suicide less than a year later but it remains one of the most famous performances of our time.
The Rolling Stones – Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert (1970)
Fifty years ago the Rolling Stones took the stage on NYC’s Madison Square Garden and gifted a raucously raw live album to the world. At the time, the ‘Stones were the biggest band in the world and infamous for their antics on – and off- stage. With sex appeal and smouldering bluesy riffs these Brit rockers took the world by storm. Their renditions of songs by early rock /blues legends Chuck Berry, T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters brought the genre to a whole new audience and a global sphere. Guitarist Keith Richards has been known to say this is his favourite by the band he co-founded with singer Mick Jagger.
Ramones – It’s Alive (1979)
Hailing from Queens NYC, the Ramones brought feverish punk to the mainstream and it took off around the globe like wildfire. This album was recorded during their four night stint at the Rainbow Theatre in London’s Finsbury Park in 1977. The crowd is said to have been so frenzied during the performance they literally ripped up the seats inside the theatre and threw them on stage. Luckily – the recordings capture this ravenous youthful punk energy in a crisp double LP for posterity.
UP NEXT: Elton – A rock n roll retrospective…