What Do Cassettes, Keith Richards and Commercials Have In Common
If you ever made a mix tape for your high school crush, you have Lou Ottens to thank. Mr. Ottens, inventor of the cassette tape, passed away at the age of 94. This dude created a product that bridged the gap between vinyl records to CD's and even inspired some of the greatest Rockers of our time.
According to NPR, even Keith Richards has the cassette to thank for one of the most well known songs in the Rolling Stones catalogue.
"I wrote 'Satisfaction' in my sleep," - Keith Richards from his book "Life"
Adding that he had no memory of writing the song, Richards said he woke up one morning to find that his Philips cassette recorder was at the end of its tape — apparently, he concluded, he had written something during the night. When Richards rewound the tape, he heard the song's now-iconic guitar riff and his voice saying, "I can't get no satisfaction."
Most of the albums that I owned in high school were on vinyl but once I got my license I wanted to be able to listen to Aerosmith, Van Halen and Iron Maiden in my car! Even though the cassette was invented in 1963, I didn't own one until around 1985 when Motley Crue released "Theatre of Pain". I remember playing that on the cassette deck in my AMC Spirit. Sweet ride for sure.
When it came to creating mix tapes I took myself way too seriously. It was as if I thought I was a record producer by making the order of songs very important. For example, I couldn't have "Rock & Roll" by Zeppelin followed by ""Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd. That would be a train wreck.
Cassettes played a big part in bootlegging concerts as well. Even my dad got caught up in bootlegging when he took me and my sister to see Johnny Cash in 1972. He tucked a portable cassette player under his winter coat and smuggled it into the arena. He hit record and tried to capture the performance. Problem is he only had the condenser mic and the result sounded like scraping metal during a thunder storm.
What we do today with Apple Music or Spotify is essentially what we did with mix tapes back in the day. One difference is that I liked holding my creation in my hand with my handwritten song titles crammed between the lines on the sleeve.
Do you remember this iconic television commercial for Maxell tapes?
Tapes appear to be making a comeback as my 18 year old son has started collecting them and his band Broken Vow offers their debut EP in cassette format. Ironically Mr. Ottens dismissed tapes as primitive and prone to noise and distortion. It appears he wasn't even fond of his own invention. We were however, as the cassette went on to enjoy over 100 billion sales.
Here are the top 25 hits of the ‘80s based on their overall popularity.