History of Rock Music

Some rock historians agree that the genre’s roots can be traced all the way back to the mid-1920s. Others say that the emergence of the Rock and Roll came about in the U.S. around the early 1950s. What cannot be denied is the influence of African Americans on the elements that shaped the genre.

​But Rock and Roll music in its earliest form consisted of blues and electric guitars. The music soon morphed with the addition of country, gospel, and even western elements. Radio stations were soon flooded with this new sound. Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” was the first bonafide Rock tune to be played on the radio.

After this, the floodgates opened and many more artists followed: Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, and the Crickets, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, and many more.
Unfortunately, the end of the 1950s era ended with the untimely deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper who succumbed to a plane crash in 1959.

But that wasn’t the end of Rock and Roll by a long shot. When the 1960s rolled in, some of the artists of the 1950s were still cranking out hits. They also had a lot to do with inspiring new up-and-coming artists.

The early 1960s era of Rock and Roll saw the emergence of “girl groups.” The Crystals, The Shangri-las, The Supremes, and The Ronettes were among the most popular at the time. These groups brought harmonizing into Rock and Roll and it was a successful tool. There were also some very successful male groups like The Beach Boys, The Everly Brothers, Del Shannon, Jan and Dean, and several others.

And then came the British invasion with The Beatles, The Byrds, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, and more. The music was friendly, poetic, and was more about love.

​By the late 1960s, America was having serious social problems. Assassinations, poverty, racism, war, and the Civil Rights Movement all played a role in how Rock and Roll music changed. The music became darker and more political. Groups like Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Buffalo Springfield had their own offerings, which were more about the protests. It was about this time when the music became simply “Rock.”

By the 1970s, Rock and Roll had been over for quite some time. The music had splintered into several types of rock like soft rock, hard rock, progressive rock, pop-rock, and more. The era was dominated by artists like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones, and Queen.

The 1980s had hair bands like Def Leppard, Guns and Roses, Poison, The Police, and more. Some of the rock bands had a harder edge. From the 1990s to the present day, not much has changed. There was an emergence of alternative rock bands like REM, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana.

​So although Rock and Roll have undergone a metamorphosis over the last 70 years, the premise has remained unchanged. Even in 2022, the basic elements of the 1950s can still be heard.

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