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Kayley Kravitz Headshot

Memories of a Retro Childhood

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It's only September and already 2012 has taken the lives of some our most beloved musical icons: Donna Summer, Adam "MCA" Yauch, Levon Helm, Dick Clark, Whitney Houston and Etta James just to name a few. But it was the deaths of Robin Gibb and Davy Jones that impacted me the most. Considering I wasn't even alive until the late '80s, I know this is rather strange.

My childhood was nothing short of retro-tastic. My mother and (much) older half sisters are passionate music fans so naturally they shared that love with me. My mother often jokes that as a child, I wasn't aware that music had been made after 1980 (unavoidable bubblegum pop like Hanson and the Spice Girls aside, of course!). She was right. My earliest years were spent listening to the oldies radio station and staying up past my bedtime to catch my favorite shows on Nick at Nite.

Very early on, I developed a love for the Monkees. In the '90s MTV and Nickelodeon aired their sitcom in syndication. I was in love with the show from the start. It featured catchy tunes and cute boys getting into quirky situations. What more could an eight year old girl ask for? My best childhood friend Greer shared my love of the Monkees. Like many little girls, we enjoyed playing house with our baby dolls. Our "husbands" were always Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith. Yes, this was in the mid '90s. Eventually, our mothers had to explain to us that the Monkees had been filmed in the '60s and the objects of our affection were now quite old. We were positively crushed.

Once my Monkeemania waned, I got into disco - this was around age nine, by the way. My mother used it as an excuse to reignite her own love of disco so we scoured the area record stores in search of the Pure Disco compilations and albums from groups like the Trammps, the O' Jays and of course the Bee Gees. I soon developed a deep love for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. My eldest sister Kim had married one of those "disco sucks" guys (he is wonderful in every other aspect; he just really hates disco) so she loved coming over for our disco dance parties. My niece had no opinion on the matter - she was only a toddler at the time so she just used it as an excuse to dance and laugh with the rest of us. The Bee Gees and little brother Andy Gibb always seemed to dominate the party play list. Many years later in college, I met a guy who claimed that the Bee Gees were the greatest songwriters and performers of all time. Though I don't agree with it entirely, I'm beginning to see his viewpoint as I further explore the Bee Gees' back catalog.

I was at work when I learned of Davy Jones' death on February 29, 2012. My boss was baffled that a girl in her early twenties was so broken up over the death of someone that hadn't been popular since the '70s. I texted Greer as soon as I heard the news. I called Kim and we shared our memories of Davy Jones while also cursing ourselves for not going to see him at Disney World when we had the chance. We quoted the episode of the Brady Bunch that he had appeared on. I spent the next week or so listening to little else than the Monkees.

It was a Sunday so I was at home when I learned of Robin Gibb's passing on May 20, 2012. I called my mom. I texted Kim and the guy I was seeing at the time. He didn't even know who Robin Gibb was so I quickly realized that he and I were not compatible. Sure I had been sad when Maurice Gibb died in 2003 but it didn't have the same effects as Robin's death. I attribute it to the fact that I am older now and appreciate my retro-tastic childhood for making me the person I am today. Davy Jones and Robin Gibb made the music that soundtracked my childhood. Losing them felt like losing old friends even though they were two men that I have no connection to whatsoever. They'll never know it but I am forever grateful to them for contributing to some of my fondest childhood memories via their music.