I had never really thought about just how influential British music was to American music. I was brought up listening to '70s prog rock--Pink Floyd, Yes, Moody Blues, Cream, all the good ones--and both of my sisters have always been really into Bowie, but I never really thought much about the importance of any of it. I just always thought it was cool music to listen to.
Of course I knew about the British Invasion, but that always just meant The Beatles to me. The '60s, to me, always seemed to belong to America. Apparently, though, the British music scene was where it all really came from in the '60s and '70s.
The British Music Experience was a really interesting way to put my life-long history of listening to British music into perspective. Having everything compiled in one place like that was astounding, just because there was so much influence there in that one compact space. With everything in chronological order it was easy to see how each band, each sound, influenced the next, and the next, and so on, into the future.
It was kind of surprising to see which bands were shown more than others. I was very surprised how little Pink Floyd there was, because I had always thought that they were one of the more influential bands of the time and even of today. I don't remember seeing any Pink Floyd artifacts at all; they were only shown on videos or on the big wall at the ends of the rooms. There was also very little about Elton John, which surprised me, because of his popularity, for one thing, and because of how important he was to piano rock/pop, which wasn't really a thing until Elton John came along. Despite that, though, it was absolutely amazing to see so much influence all contained in that space.
I went to the Bowie exhibit at the Victoria & Albert, too. Again, Bowie was always music that I had listened to growing up and it wasn't ever that significant to me. From what I understand, though, Bowie is much bigger here in the UK than in the US. I don't know how influential he was to American pop through the '70s, but, especially highlighted by the V&A exhibit, it's obvious that there are few individuals in British music history as important as David Bowie. He did things that no one had ever seen before, and he made it okay for other people to do the same.