Thursday, Activision killed the musical video game Guitar Hero after six years of turning young ears into heshers, glammers, and classic-rock devotees. The debt that older bands like the Ramones, Poison, Black Sabbath and Rush owe to the game is immense. True, the kids (and drunk adults), were hearing cover versions of the classics, but the influence was just the same.
One of Rocks Off's buddies is an A/V teacher in the suburbs, and has told us tales of teens drawing dramatic Led Zeppelin murals on their notebooks, asking about Heart, and even getting into the Stooges because of the Guitar Hero games. We've been to rock shows and asked younger fans what got them into a certain band, and many say either it was either Guitar Hero or its full-band rival game Rock Band that led them to an older band, or even a younger band like The Sword or Dragonforce.
Activision released six different editions of Guitar Hero over six years, plus versions devoted to Van Halen, Aerosmith and Metallica. Then came a legion of expansion packs focusing on the '80s, and even one on the game's own greatest hits.
Activision will stop making the game itself, but you will still be able to download new songs to play, at least for now. If you have any inclination towards the future and retiring to a million-dollar yacht, we suggest stocking up Guitar Hero equipment now for a hefty eBay return in about 15 years when a new cast of kids decides to try Dad at Rancid's "Salvation."
You will lose, bro.
For some rock purists, Guitar Hero was the bane of all existence, turning kids away from physical chords and frets and into video zombies. Others championed the fact that game players were hearing music that they wouldn't be exposed to otherwise, like King Crimson, the Sex Pistols and even Deep Purple.
Rocks Off hated watching our friends play the game, but the music made it tolerable, at least when the players knew what they were doing. We picked out ten songs that got new life from Guitar Hero, unleashing new sounds on unwitting players.
Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble, "Texas Flood" (Guitar Hero)
Screaming Trees, "Nearly Lost You" (Guitar Hero 5)
The Rolling Stones, "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'" (Guitar Hero 2)
The Sword, "Freya" (Guitar Hero 2)
Thin Lizzy, "Bad Reputation" (Guitar Hero 2)
Blue Oyster Cult, "Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll" (Guitar Hero 3)
Butthole Surfers, "Who Was In My Room Last Night?" (Guitar Hero 2)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Spanish Castle Magic" (Guitar Hero)
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Love and Rockets, "Mirror People" (Guitar Hero 5)
Rush, "2112" (Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock)