How Did rock Begin?
Rock and Roll has been around for a long time. It’s nearly impossible to know everything there is to know about Rock, but the history of Rock Music can be roughly divided into different eras based on the kind of music that was popular at any given time. A lot of people think that the history of Rock and Roll began with Elvis Presley or The Beatles, but those artists are just two examples from a much longer list. Other musicians from the same era were just as influential on later musicians and their own genre; they just didn’t have quite as much fame.
Even so, each decade has its own style and influence which sets it apart from every other era. If you want to learn more about the history of rock, keep reading!
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The 1950s: The Early Days Of Rock
We have to start at the very beginning. Rock and Roll was created by mixing together rhythm and blues, country, and jazz. The earliest examples of rock can be found in the music of artists like Louis Armstrong, Jimmie Rodgers, and Bing Crosby. Talk about a mixed bag! These musicians had a big influence on early rock and roll artists like Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Chuck Berry.
The very first rock and roll song was probably “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that rock really found its place in music. The 1950s are often called rock’s Golden Age, when there was a lot of experimentation in the genre and musicians played with the idea of combining a wide variety of other genres, such as “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats, which mixed blues and jazz. It was also during the ‘50s that we got doo-wop, rockabilly, and surf music. Doo-wop is a style of vocal harmony that comes from R&B groups. Rockabilly is a mix of the blues and country music, where the tempo is fast. Surf music is a mix of rock and Hawaiian music, and it’s the genre that gave us the electric guitar.
The biggest stars of the decade were the likes of Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. Even though these artists are now legendary figures in Rock music, they were not recognized as such at the time. Little Richard, for example, was criticized at the time for being ‘unfit’ to perform, because he was a black man. However, the style of music that Little Richard and his peers were playing would set the precedent for Rock music to come. It was a mixture of several different genres, including Gospel, Blues and Country. Rock and Roll might have been seen as a substandard genre by some, but it was just gaining momentum. The ‘50s were when Rock and Roll gained commercial popularity. Artists like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly rose to fame in the ‘50s and set the stage for the Rock and Roll to come.
In 1955, Elvis Presley’s “That’s All Right” was released. It was the song that made him famous and helped him get his start in the music industry. The lyrics to “All Right” were originally not about Rock and Roll at all. Elvis was just performing his music as usual when his producer decided to incorporate some new Rock and Roll rhythms in the song. Elvis’s music was known for its connection to African American musical cultures, and with songs like “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” his fans were mostly teenage girls.
The 1960s: Rock Goes Pro
As the music industry grew, Rock and Roll went from being a fad to a full-blown industry in its own right. No longer just a collection of a few famous songs, Rock and Roll became something that all kinds of musicians played and sold to fans.
One of the most famous bands of the 1960s was the Beatles, whose manager, Brian Epstein, made them into a symbol of youth and rebellion. The Beatles’ music was a blend of Rock and Roll, pop, and other influences. They were not the only Rock band at the time, but they were the most famous. Other bands that were famous in the 1960s included the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Kinks, and the Zombies.
The ‘60s saw Rock and Roll hit a few bumps in the road on its way to becoming the standard genre that it is today. In the early ‘60s, a genre of music called ‘British Invasion’ began to take over the world. Artists like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones became globally famous and brought a new sound to the genre of Rock and Roll. However, the American artists who had been famous in the ‘50s were now struggling to find fame again. A few artists like The Beach Boys continued to rise to fame, but Rock and Roll was now considered a fully fledged genre in the charts. Artists had to find new ways to stand out, as there were now many artists in the same genre competing for popularity.
Many artists began to experiment with different instruments and styles of music. The ‘60s is when Rock and Roll changed from a substandard genre to a fully fledged genre with many different styles. It’s also the decade when Rock became a profession. Many of the famous bands of the ‘60s were fully fledged bands, not just one musician. This decade was when Rock and Roll transformed from a genre into a lifestyle.
The 1960s: British Invasion!
The 1960s were the decade when British bands took over the American music scene. There had been Rock bands from other countries in the past, but the 1960s were the decade when the biggest British bands broke through in America. The 1960s were also the decade when Rock music truly changed. Musicians like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Kinks, and The Yardbirds were all British bands who helped to take Rock music from a local phenomenon to a global phenomenon. These bands were heavily influenced by American Blues music, and they experimented with different instruments and studio techniques that hadn’t been used in Rock music before. The 1960s also saw the rise of singer-songwriters, who often played solo acoustic guitars and harmonica.
The 1970s: Disco Rules!
The 1970s were all about Disco, and Disco helped to set the stage for Pop music for decades to come. Disco was a huge part of the music industry during this decade, and it influenced everything from Rock, to R&B, to Funk, and even Reggae. The 1970s were also the decade when Rock music began to move away from the raw sound of the 1950s and 1960s. The use of synthesizers became common, and many new Rock artists were heavily influenced by Electronic Music. There were also lots of Disco artists who incorporated popular Rock instruments, such as electric guitars, into their music. The 1970s was also the decade when Progressive Rock emerged as a genre. For the first time, a Rock band recorded an entire album in a single studio session. Progressive Rock bands also experimented with longer songs, often using different sections to re-create the feeling of an entire album in one song.
The 1970s: Responses to the Vietnam War
Rock music underwent some big changes in the 1970s, partly because of the impact of the Vietnam War. Bands like The Doors, The Who, and Creedence Clearwater Revival became known as the “anti-establishment” bands because they wrote lyrics that were critical of the government. Other bands, like the Rolling Stones, were seen performing for large crowds of young people. As a result, the “establishment” was concerned about the growing popularity of rock music.
The 1980s: Synthpop and New Wave Rule
The 1980s saw the rise of Synthpop and New Wave bands, as well as the continued popularity of Disco and Electronic music. Synthpop bands used synthesizers and drum machines to create a very polished, futuristic sound. New Wave bands took inspiration from Synthpop, but they added guitars and drums to their recordings. The 1980s were also the decade in which Punk bands and artists began to fade away. Punk had been a huge part of the music industry for over a decade, but by the 1980s, Punk was beginning to sound stale. New Wave bands were incorporating Punk’s energy and rawness into their music, which was a great way to keep the genre fresh. Rock music also changed in the 1980s, thanks to the influence of Grunge. Grunge bands were influenced by both Punk and Rock, and they were very willing to experiment and take risks with their music. Unlike the music of the 1970s and 1980s, Grunge music definitely wasn’t polished.
The popularity of MTV in the 1980s led to a lot of music styles that were heavily influenced by visual elements. New Wave bands like Tears for Fears, New Order, and The Human League were visually impressive as much as they were musically interesting. Electronic music like House, Techno, and Industrial music gained popularity in the 1980s, partly because they could be easily mixed with other visuals.
The 1990s: Grunge Takes Over
The 1990s were dominated by Grunge bands and artists. Grunge was a blend of the best of Punk and Rock, with a little bit of Electronic music thrown in for good measure. While Grunge had been around for a few years at this point, it was in the 1990s that the genre truly took off. The 1990s were also the decade in which Alternative Rock became a mainstream genre. Alternative bands found success by taking Grunge’s energy and rawness, adding a pinch of Electronic music, and then throwing in a few experimental ideas for good measure. There were a few other genres that saw a lot of popularity in the 1990s. The decade also saw the emergence of Britpop, Hip Hop / Rap, and Industrial music.
2000 to Today - Modern Rock Artists
In the 2000s, Rock and Roll was joined by other genres that had emerged in the 1990s, like Electronica and Hip Hop. Groups like The Strokes and Interpol built on the guitar-heavy sound of Grunge music while incorporating elements of punk and New Wave. Groups like Daft Punk, Gorillaz, and Radiohead incorporated Electronica sounds in their music. Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk are two examples of musicians who melded Rock and Electronica styles together. And MCs like Eminem, Jay-Z, and Kanye West added Hip Hop sounds to Rock music.
History doesn’t have a conclusion, and rock music is a living thing. Even today, rock music continues to evolve and fuse with other genres and styles. There are many different ways to learn about the history of rock and roll, and this article is just one example. For more information, you can listen to the music and read the lyrics of different rock artists, or you can even find live concerts online and listen to the history of rock and roll as it happens.
Rock and Roll has been around for a long time. It’s nearly impossible to know everything there is to know about Rock, but the history of Rock Music can be roughly divided into different eras based on the kind of music that was popular at any given time. The 1950s were full of experimentation and cross-genre pollination, the 1960s were dominated by the British Invasion, the 1970s were an era of political turmoil, the 1980s were full of MTV and electronic music, and the 1990s and 2000s were an age of grunge and indie rock. Every decade has its own style and influence which sets it apart from every other era, but they all have one thing in common: they’re all part of the history of Rock and Roll!