PMT Turns 25: 1991, The Year That Rocked


As we celebrate our 25th birthday, let's travel back to 1991 and remember how things were like in the music scene, when we opened our first store - PMT Southend. It was a totally rocking year, as it turns out!

1991 The year That Rocked

In retrospect, 1991 was bound to mark the start of a new musical revolution. People can look back at the Eighties now with a certain degree of nostalgia, but musically, synths, shoulder pads and "hair metal" could only take you so far, and by the start of the Nineties, the excesses of the 80's were getting tired, and were not fun anymore, at least to many younger musicians. It was the perfect time for the birth of PMT House of Rock!

25 years on, we're celebrating our 25th anniversary in style. To begin with, let's look back at 1991, the year it all started...

1991: The Year In Music

1991 in music 1991 in music (clockwise from top left): Right Said Fred, Nirvana, Bandwagonesque by Teenage Fanclub, Bono as The Fly, Manic Street Preachers, Eddie Veder and Chris Cornell, PMT old logo, Smashing Pumpkins, Primal Scream's Screamadelica

1991 was, like Sonic Youth put it, "the year punk broke". Well, none of the biggest bands in '91 were actually "punk" by definition, but it was the first generation of musicians who actually grew up with punk music in their lives - and punk's spirit of anarchy and innovation could be found in the best music made that year, from Nirvana to Metallica, from Primal Scream to Massive Attack, from U2 to R.E.M.

Many albums and songs, regarded as classics today, were released in 1991. To name but a few: Nirvana's 'Nevermind', Metallica's 'Black Album', U2's 'Achtung Baby', R.E.M.'s 'Out of Time', My Bloody Valentine's 'Loveless', Smashing Pumpkins' debut 'Gish', 'Bandwagonesque' by Teenage Fanclub, Soundgarden's 'Badmotorfinger' and Pearl Jam's 'Ten'. What an amazing year!

As for songs: Right Said Fred had a hit with 'I'm Too Sexy', and the Manic Street Preachers were still a small, sometimes derided band, going against the trends with songs such as 'Motown Junk' and 'You Love Us'. Blur had their first brush with fame thanks to 'There's No Other Way', and indie fans everywhere were dancing to 'Size of a Cow', by The Wonder Stuff. Prince was still alive and making some great music such as 'Get Off', one of his hit singles that year. And, still off the radar, bands such as Stereolab and Pulp were flying the flag of vintage organs and analogue synths, years before the current revival.

The world lost Freddy Mercury in 1991, but apart from this sad loss, '91 wasn't such a bad year for music, when you compare it to the terrible losses of 2016.

Of course, not everything was great about 1991... it was the year Keanu Reeves formed Dogstar (originally named Small Fecal Matter.)

The Music Industry in 1991

MI in 1991

The year was also a landmark for the music retail industry (or simply, the "MI"). On March 21st, none other than Leo Fender passed away. The inventor of the Stratocaster, Telecaster and other legendary guitar gear didn't live to see the biggest musical revolution in a generation - heralded by the Fender-loving Kurt Cobain.

Cobain was often photographed playing a Jaguar, Strat and a Mustang guitar - which certainly helped to boost the sales of these instruments. But another important thing happened in '91 that helped to popularize Fender even more: it was the year when the Mexican-made Fender guitars were first introduced, offering great quality at a more affordable price than the US-made models.

Fender Standard Strat The Mexican-made Fender Standard Stratocasters were introduced in 1991. These authentic Fenders for under £600 are now very popular! VIEW RANGE

The new decade also saw the arrival of other new gear that we now take for granted: the popular Boss MT-2 Metal Zone and Boss CE-5 Chorus Ensemble fx pedals were released in '91, as well as the Akai MPC60 mkII, the revolutionary music production controller that still lives on today in different incarnations.

And though the original DigiTech Whammy WH-1 was released in '89, it was in 1991 that DigiTech really pushed to promote it. Today, a Whammy pedal is an essential tool for many guitarists, from Jack White to Johnny Greenwood and many others.

In the middle of this exciting era for music and music gear, PMT House Of Rock was born, when our first store opened in Southend. The rest, as they say, is history...

PMT Southend PMT Southend, 25 years on!

Class of '91 and How To Get The Sounds, Today

So, we're 25! Yes, we're getting on a bit, but proud to be one of the few British-based companies that managed to last 25 years trading in the UK only. And we're still expanding, to make sure you'll find a PMT Store near your home. Besides, it seems we're in great company, too: here's a list of some of our favourite albums from 1991, plus the gear you can get today to make those sounds! Like PMT (we hope!) some things never get old...

1) 'Nevermind', Nirvana

THE GEAR: Kurt Cobain helped to popularize Grunge and guitar gear such as the Fender Jaguar, Electro-Harmonix Small Clone Chorus, Electro-Harmonix Polychorus and Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion. Check our Grunge Gear Guide for a "Best Of" of all "grunge guitar gear" you can find, today!

2) 'Black Album', Metallica

THE GEAR: Kirk Hammet, as any guitar virtuoso, has gone through lots of equipment in the last 25 years. But some of the essential equipment for Metallica fans include Mesa Boogie V Head (Hammet started using the mk IV version during the 'Black Album' time), Ibanez TS-9 Tubescreamer, Vox Wah and DigiTech Whammy (Hammet was one of the first to experiment with the WH-1 version.) One of the best Kirk Hammet-style guitars is the Epiphone Limited-Edition Bjorn Gelotte Signature Les Paul Custom, which is equipped with EMG humbuckers.

3) 'Out of Time', R.E.M.

THE GEAR: Peter Buck's jangly guitar sounds owed a lot to Sixties bands such as The Byrds and The Beatles, so it's no surprise a Rickenbacker 360 electric guitar and a Vox AC-30 are a must!

4) 'Use Your Illusion 1 & 2', Guns'N'Roses

THE GEAR: some classic Slash gear include a good Les Paul guitar, Slash signature wah and a Marshall JCM-800 guitar amp. In 1991 Slash also used a Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus for clean sounds. Fans on a budget will love the Epiphone Slash Signature Les Paul.

5) 'Loveless', My Bloody Valentine

THE GEAR: Kevin Shields creates his shoegaze wall-of-noise with the help of a few Fender Jazzmaster guitars, Marshall JCM-800 and Vox AC-30 amps, and lots of fx pedals. To name a few from MBV's latest tours: Boss GE-7 Graphic Equalizer, Boss PS-5 Super Shifter, Electro-Harmonix Little Big Muff and Boss DD-7 Digital Delay. An Alesis MidiVerb for reverse reverbs is an essential feature in many of their songs.

6) 'Screamadelica', Primal Scream

THE GEAR: Screamadelica was one of the most creative albums in 1991, when Primal Scream ditched the traditional guitar sound and started experimenting with samplers. Guitarist Andrew Innes uses a Gibson Les Paul Custom, Epiphone Casino, Roland Space Echo and Korg MS-20.

7) 'Blue Lines', Massive Attack

THE GEAR: Massive Attach were the first artists to make a serious case for Bristol as one of the musical capitals of the UK, with their debut album. At the time, the band had an Ensoniq EPS Keyboard, a Numark I775PPD mixer and  other low-end gadgets. Today, Robert Del Naja has a top-of-the-range studio packed with Roland AIRA gear, vintage synths, Korg microKorg, Focusrite Channel Strip & much more.

8) 'Achtung Baby', U2

THE GEAR: Besides the Fender The Edge signature Stratocaster and Deluxe amp, other classic The Edge gear include: Vox AC30, Epiphone Casino, Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man delay, and DigiTech Whammy.

9) 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik', Red Hot Chili Peppers

THE GEAR: John Frusciante is perhaps the best-loved guitarist who've ever played in RHCP, and he was the one who helped the band to make it big, with this 1991 album. His gear include Fender Stratocaster, Fender Jaguar, Boss Chorus, Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, MXR Phase 90, Boss DS-1 and Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion. His main amp of choice was the Marshall JTM-45, and he used a vintage Fender Spring Reverb tank - which has reincarnated as the Boss FRV-1 '63 Fender Reverb pedal.

10) 'Leisure', Blur

THE GEAR: Far from being Blur's finest effort, their 1991 debut has its charm, and Graham Coxon already showed promise as one of the new guitar heroes of the new decade. He played a Fender Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul Custom, through Marshall amps. Some of his pedals included Pro-Co RAT distortion, Boss BF-2 Flanger, Boss PN-2 Tremolo, Boss VB-2 Vibrato.

1991 'Best Of' Playlist on Spotify

Join The Celebration!

Why don't you join us in celebration, and share your pics of gear you've bought at one of our PMT Stores? Post on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and tag us, using the hashtag #PMT25!

To find out more about our 25th Anniversary celebrations, CLICK HERE

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