Our latest exhibition celebrates the music of the 1980s – Milton Keynes style. You can view the exhibition in the Discover Milton Keynes exhibition space at Milton Keynes Central Library until 20th April 2018.
As Milton Keynes entered its teenage years, the eighties became the decade for live music. The City blossomed with new bands along with an array of music venues to host them. The punk ethic of “anyone can be in a band” spilled over from the 1970s and youth clubs in particular became a breeding ground for young musical talent.
This wasn’t an entirely new phenomenon. There had always been a music scene in the surrounding towns and villages before Milton Keynes was even conceived. Stony Stratford had its Folk scene and Bletchley its Rock ‘n’ Roll – even the likes of the Rolling Stones and Gene Vincent performed at Wilton Hall and The Walker Brothers at The Palace in Wolverton in the 1960s.
The eighties also saw Milton Keynes put on the map by the biggest acts in the world visiting the National Bowl. David Bowie, Michael Jackson and Queen – to name but a few – brought a buzz to the City that inspired local bands to raise their game and shoot for the stars.
The explosion of live music in the 1980s was to last well into the 1990s. A combination of factors led to its demise including new licensing laws along with the closure of the ‘breeding ground’ youth clubs and venues. Culturally, there was also a huge shift from bands to DJs with the advent of the ‘superstar DJ’ – resulting in nightclubs and raves becoming more popular than gigs.
Today Milton Keynes continues to have a strong live music scene with venues such as The Craufurd Arms, MK11 and Unit 9 all hosting regular gigs, along with many other pubs and clubs in the area. The sheer volume of bands and venues of the 1980s might not be with us anymore, but the creativity, talent and lust for live music certainly is. This exhibition features just a small sample of local bands from the era. If you have any historic photos, press cuttings or memorabilia of Milton Keynes bands please contact us.
For details of previous exhibitions, visit Discover Milton Keynes.