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Rock and roll began as a music genre in the United States in the late 1940s.

Rock and roll consisted

of the blues rhythms, R&B, African American culture and country/western music. The words and
phrases go as far back as in the 1920s, but it didn’t get the name until the 1950s. One of the first
forms of Rock and Roll was rockabilly, combined of jazz, Appalachian folk music and gospel.
Rocking was used by black gospel singers, referring to dance: to move back and forth or from side
to side, especially gently or rhythmically. However, in 1947, in Roy Brown’s “Good Rocking
Tonight”, which gave “rocking” another meaning - sex. This type of music was rhythm and blues,
or “black music”, therefore rarely heard by white audiences.
However, white Americans did enjoy the music, if white musicians performed it, and they often
objected if the original black artist performed it. Only a few R&B (Rhythm and Blues) musicians
succeeded, i.e. Louis Jordan, the Mills Brothers and The Ink Spots. Many white rock and roll hits
were only covers of old R&B or blues songs. In fact, the blues was proved important inspirations
for British Blues-rockers such as the Yardbirds, Cream and Led Zeppelin.
Alan Freed, a DJ from Cleveland, started playing this type of music in 1951 for multi-racial
audience. The first rock and roll concert was also organized by Freed; it was called “The Moondog
Coronation Ball”. However, African Americans mainly attended, but so many that the concert
almost ended early because of overcrowding. Freed has organized many rock and roll events since,
attended by both whites and blacks.
Not everybody agrees to what should be considered the first rock and roll record. Rolling Stone
magazine said it was Elvis Presley’s “That’s All Right (Mama)” from 1954, though many artists and
bands played rock and roll long time before, such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, that goes back to the
1930. In some ways, her music contained the major elements of mid-1950s rock and roll.
In 1954, Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” opened the door for this new popular culture, as it
was the first rock and roll song that outnumbered Billboard magazine’s main sales. Chuck Berry
and Little Richard, along with many vocal “doo-wop” groups, also made it to top quite early. The
other pop chart musician was going down, and making a hit song was harder than ever.
Rock and roll appeared in the times of segregation, and many racial problems. Rock and roll that
combined white and black music received strong reactions from the public.
The very words “Rock and roll” was credited to Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five’s version of
“Tamburitza Boogie”, though it has been used many times before, all the way back to 1916.
In 1954, Presley recorded the hit “That’s All Right (Mama)” in Memphis. He played a rock and
country & western fusion called rockabilly, also known to be one of the first rock genres. Elvis
Presley was the first superstar rock musician.
The year’s after, “Rock around the Clock” really set rock and roll in motion. Teenagers caused riots
in the cities where Bill Haley and His Comets performed. He also made a cover of Joe Turner’s
“Shake, Rattle and Roll”. This was the first rock and roll hit, which sold more than a million copies.
His next big hit, “See You Later Alligator”, sold over a million copies in only 30 days. Bill Haley
became a worldwide hit.
As said, the white population didn’t like black music, until Alan Freed. However, the white
population quickly smelled money, and sold white covers of black artists. Many of Presley’s hits
were simply old black music.
Along side with USA’s lousy copyright law, covering was a known thing. One of the first successful
covers was Wynonie Harris’ version of Roy Brown’s “Good Rocking Tonight”, and made it into a
showy rocker theme instead of jump blues. Famous Pat Boone recorded his own versions of Little
Richard songs, however when he tried “Long Tall Sally”, he found it so intense that he couldn’t
cover it. Later, some original artists were played originally in the radio as well. Once, Little Richard
called Pat Boone from the audience and introduced him as “the man who made me a millionaire”.
However, covering was not just imitations, but editing them into different styles. “Shake, Rattle and
Roll” was originally a humorous tale about adult love, but was transformed into an energetic dance.
In 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson) were killed in a plane
crash. This inspired Don McLean’s popular ballad in 1971, called “American Pie”, and the February
3 was known as “The Day the Music Died”. These three, along with Presley, was the first teen idols.
Elvis Presley also died devastating, due to overweight. Later The Beatles, Paul Anka, Frankie
Avalon and The Monkeys had an appeal to teenage audiences. Teen idols were known for good
looks and catchy pop music, where a good look was a huge part of their success. This is the
beginning of teen magazines, where magazines like 16 Magazine and Tiger Beat monthly featured a
popular teen idol on the cover.
This enormous movement brought blues artists to Britain, and inspired the young people, including
John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who formed “the Quarrymen”, and later developed into “The
Beatles”. The American rock and roll, which had grown world famous, certainly bloomed in
Britain, as the youth started their own bands. Britain became a new centre of rock and roll.
In 1958, three British teenagers became Cliff Richard and the Drifters (Later known as Cliff
Richard and the Shadows), and were not only the first true British Rock and roll single, but also the
era of British rock. After the success of the Beatles, a new term was created. Beatlemania, used to
describe fan frenzy, especially young teenage girls, toward The Beatles. A number of variations
used for different bands, such as menudomania or rollermania for two world famous bands.
Beatlemania caused something unusual; The Beatles sold over 30 million records in America alone
during 1964. The Beatles have sold 106.5 million albums in the USA in all time. Some of the most
famous rock bands came from Britain as well, such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling
Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, and Queen!
In the early and mid 1960s Bob Dylan came in to the rock movement, and helped to start the trend
of Folk rock and bringing protest songs to a wider public, and simply kept singing alongside with
The Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young’s renewed folk rock.
Psychedelia or psychedelic rock started out on the folk scene, with Holy Modal Rounders
introducing the term in 1964. This music was often connected with the opposition of the Vietnam
War. In England, Pink Floyd developed an underground culture of psychedelic rock since 1965. In
1966, the Beatles released their album Revolver, which contained psychedelia in Tomorrow Never
Knows and in Yellow Submarine. The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds contained psychedelia as well. The
super group Cream debuted, and Jimi Hendrix also got popular. In 1967, The Doors brought their
first album, and as the years went by albums simple kept coming from the bands and artists.
On to Progressive rock, this sub genre is exactly what it’s called. Bands simply experimented and
made progress within the rock music with different instruments, song types and musical forms. Pink
Floyd, The Moody Blues and Golden Earring tried out with wind sections, string sections and even
full orchestras. The music became sophisticated and had chord structures. There were many
successful bands, including Genesis, Electric Light Orchestra, Yes, and Soft Machine.
Rock music had a less successful era, known as “bubble gum pop”, a part of soft rock; however, it
brought out few bands. Though soft rock it self became quite popular, with big names such as Barry
Manilow, Neil Diamond and even Tina Turner, and groups such as The Carpenters and Electric
Light Orchestra.
From mid to late 1970s, a second wave of British rock bands got popular, bands such as Cream, Led
Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Queen and Black Sabbath. They were the foundation of heavy
metal rock. Critics disliked this genre, as it simply was heavy. This genre also includes bands such
as AC/DC, Kiss and Aerosmith.
This was also the time of Arena rock, as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who began live
performances in stadiums and arenas, which created the arena rock bands. However, this was
entertainment companies that created it.
Punk rock was a reaction to the disco, which was on height with rock in the late 1970s and
commercialism of arena rock. Expertise wasn’t necessary and was easy to play. Many punk bands
wanted to shock the mainstream culture. Ramones drummer Tommy Ramone stated, “In its initial
form, a lot of [1960s] stuff was innovative and exciting. Unfortunately, what happens is that people
who could not hold a candle to the likes of Hendrix started noodling away. Soon you had endless
solos that went nowhere. By 1973, I knew that what was needed was some pure, stripped down, no
bullshit rock ‘n’ roll”. The Ramones was often said to be the first punk bands, there was others in
the New York scene. Artists like Patti Smith, The Heartbreakers and Television played the exact
same stripped down rock, and often along with the Ramones at CGBG’s (OMFUG), the legendary
music club in Manhattan of New York. In 1976 The Ramones, toured with the British punk band the
Sex Pistols. This tour was credited for inspiring a wave of English punk bands such as The Clash,
The Damned and the Buzzcocks. In England, the music became more violent and expressed more in
political form and despite an airplay ban on the channel BBC, the two first singles “Anarchy in the
U.K.” and “God Save the Queen” got to the UK top chart.
In the 1980s, rock music split into a variety of styles. In addition, New Wave of British Heavy
Metal came. Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth (Both from Van Halen) and Freddie Mercury (of
Queen) raised the standard of performance art. American heartland rock came, with artists like
Bruce Springsteen with others. Rock and roll fused with folk music styles from around the world,
known as “world music”, like Aboriginal Rock, which is the traditional rock elements combined
with the Indigenous Australians instruments like the Didgeridoo and the clap sticks.
Glam metal was also a new genre, which popularity grew. Inspired by Aerosmith and Alice Cooper,
the earliest glam metal bands included W.A.S.P. and Ratt. They were known for their lifestyles,
weird hairstyles and make-up. Not only was their music aggressive, but also macho, with lyrics
about sex, drinking, drugs and the occult.
In the mid-1980s, a glam metal band had two hits, a “power ballad” and a hard-rocking anthem. As
Guns n’ Roses’ debut album, Appetite for Destruction, was a huge seller, the band could continue
the success in the early 1990s.
Alternative music or alternative rock was used to describe in the early 1980s as bands that didn’t fit
into the mainstream genres, and was rarely heard on the radio. However, most of these bands were
punk. Many important bands was from the 80s underground alternative rock movement, including
R.E.M., The Smith, Pixies, The Cure and many more. Artists like this turned to indie labels, and
was known as college radio. Other succeeded alternative rock styles include jangle pop and gothic
Rock radio was dominated by hard rock and glam metal, and not only had MTV arrived with a
shallow attitude, saying style was more important than content. Young musicians rejected glam
metal and arena rock, and created grunge. A few grunge bands, such as early Nirvana and
Mudhoney, were much inspired by garage rock/punk rock. Others like Alice in Chains and
Soundgarden was more into early heavy metal and nihilistic punk. Grunge stayed in the American
Pacific Northwest region, especially Seattle, until the breakthrough of Nirvana in 1991, as they
released the album Nevermind. Nirvana and their front man Kurt Cobain was a sensation
worldwide, and nearly removed experimental hard rock from the mainstream, even after the very
successful release of Guns n’ Roses double album Use Your Illusion I and II.
Nirvana was more direct rock music, and aided successful bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.
Nirvana and grunge music now dominated the mainstream, until Kurt Cobain’s sudden suicide,
early April 1994. Grunge slowly faded out, and in 1996, grunge was dead, kept alive by
Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, but apparently, Nirvana was the foundation of grunge.
While the U.S. had grunge and rap, Britain had a 1960s revival in the mid-90s, often called Britpop.
Bands like Suede, Oasis, Blur and Radiohead grew from the Britpop, mixed of old British guitar, a
like the Beatles and glam rock. Different bands, different mixes. Oasis turned to the attitude of the
Rolling Stones and music of the Beatles; Blur went in the footsteps of The Kinks and Small Faces,
while Radiohead was inspired by Elvis Costello, Pink Floyd and R.E.M. with progressive rock.
These bands became very successful, and Oasis was known as “the biggest band in the world”, after
an album sold over 14 million copies worldwide, but it slowed as the band broke.
After the death of Cobain, hybrid genres evolved. Rock and roll searched for a new face, a new
sound. This became the second wave of alternative rock bands.
Pop punk was a fusion of other popular genres and punk rock. In 1994 bands like Green Day and
The Offspring made the genre mainstream with their albums Dookie and Smash respectively. Later
in the 1990s, other pop punk bands like NOFX and blink-182 were proved successful.
Many thought that grunge died with Cobain, however a post-grunge started. It’s alike pop
punk/punk rock, but more radio friendly. This introduced female vocalists, like Tori Amos, Fiona
Apple and the success Alanis Morissette.
Rapcore and Nu metal were bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine and
surprisingly KoRn, introducing a fresh sound of rap and rock combined elements. Later bands like
Linkin Park and Deftones merged a mix of grunge, metal, and rap into Rapcore. This was a part of
the genre nu metal.
Garage rock was also revived in the 21st century, as in the early 2000s bands as The Whites Stripes,
The Vines and The Hives all released successful albums. As the 2000s revived a retro trend, so did
post punk, where bands like Franz Ferdinand and Artic Monkeys mixes post punk and electro, and
are among the biggest selling artists.

As you see that in the beginning of rock history it’s about style and culture, however even early
black blues musicians are hard drinking, and caused an alcohol abuse. A musician were merely
popular, and was given attention by the opposite sex, which turned into Groupies, girls who spent
time with an artist and often did sexual favours for band members. Drug and alcohol abuse is often
seen by rock stars, and in one particular accident, food. Rock had major impacts each decade on the
social community, as the attitude ”Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll” becomes popular. Just after the
first British Invasion, the Americans start the hippie-era, which gave both drugs and sex more
Journalist Al Aronowitz “… whatever the Beatles did was acceptable, especially for young people.
Pretty soon everybody was smoking it, and it seemed to be all right.”
Rock is also a sign of rebellion, and each wave of rock music is based on rebellious young
musician, both college and garage rock. Not only is it considered a counterculture, along with
As rock has a quite direct and progressive line through history, it does trail back to slavery, which is
where the jazz/blues origin. Nearly 100 years later, in the 1940s, blacks are stuck in ghettos. The
rock music became an everyday protest, a so called counterculture which has been part of major
changes of the world. Rock has fought war, society and government in either way.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a museum in Cleveland, U.S., dedicated to record some of the
most influential artists, producers and people or in some way had a major impact on the rock and
roll area. The first artists inducted on it’s annual induction ceremony was Chuck Berry, James
Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis,
Little Richard, and Elvis Presley. Also Jimmie Rodgers, Jimmy Yancey, Robert Johnson, John
Hammond, Alan Freed and Sam Phillips were inducted, as non-performers. In the year of 2007,
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, R.E.M., The Ronettes, Patti Smith and Van Halen were
inducted. Main critics Rock Hall ever received was because former foundation director Suzan
Evans and writer Dave Marsh was picking those artists that they preferred themselves, instead of
thinking about the world.
Only one artist claims to have sold over 100 million copies. That was Michael Jackson, with
Thriller. Jackson sings R&B and Pop rock. However, AC/DC, The Eagles and Pink Floyd all sold at
least 40 million copies each on second place.