Rock and roll (often written as rock & roll or rock 'n' roll) is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s from musical styles such as gospel, jump blues, jazz, boogie woogie, and rhythm and blues, along with country music. While elements of what was to become rock and roll can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until 1954.
According to Greg Kot, "rock and roll" refers to a style of popular music originating in the U.S. in the 1950s prior to its development by the mid-1960s into "the more encompassing international style known as rock music, though the latter also continued to be known as rock and roll." For the purpose of differentiation, this article deals with the first definition.
In the earliest rock and roll styles, either the piano or saxophone was typically the lead instrument, but these instruments were generally replaced or supplemented by guitar in the middle to late 1950s. The beat is essentially a dance rhythm with an accentuated backbeat, which is almost always provided by a snare drum. Classic rock and roll is usually played with one or two electric guitars (one lead, one rhythm), a double bass or string bass or (after the mid-1950s) an electric bass guitar, and a drum kit.
Beyond simply a musical style, rock and roll, as seen in movies, in fan magazines, and on television, influenced lifestyles, fashion, attitudes, and language. In addition, rock and roll may have contributed to the civil rights movement because both African-American and white American teenagers enjoyed the music. It went on to spawn various genres, often without the initially characteristic backbeat, that are now more commonly called simply "rock music" or "rock".
|Rock and roll|
|Cultural origins||Late 1940s – early 1950s, United States|
The term "rock and roll" now has at least two different meanings, both in common usage. The American Heritage Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary both define rock and roll as synonymous with rock music. Encyclopædia Britannica, on the other hand, regards it as the music that originated in the mid-1950s and later developed "into the more encompassing international style known as rock music".
The phrase "rocking and rolling" originally described the movement of a ship on the ocean, but was used by the early twentieth century, both to describe the spiritual fervor of black church rituals and as a sexual analogy. Various gospel, blues and swing recordings used the phrase before it became used more frequently – but still intermittently – in the 1940s, on recordings and in reviews of what became known as "rhythm and blues" music aimed at a black audience.
In 1934, the song "Rock and Roll" by the Boswell Sisters appeared in the film Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round. In 1942, Billboard magazine columnist Maurie Orodenker started to use the term "rock-and-roll" to describe upbeat recordings such as "Rock Me" by Sister Rosetta Tharpe. By 1943, the "Rock and Roll Inn" in South Merchantville, New Jersey, was established as a music venue. In 1951, Cleveland, Ohio, disc jockey Alan Freed began playing this music style while popularizing the phrase to describe it.
The origins of rock and roll have been fiercely debated by commentators and historians of music. There is general agreement that it arose in the Southern United States – a region that would produce most of the major early rock and roll acts – through the meeting of various influences that embodied a merging of the African musical tradition with European instrumentation. The migration of many former slaves and their descendants to major urban centers such as St. Louis, Memphis, New York City, Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, and Buffalo (See: Second Great Migration (African American)) meant that black and white residents were living in close proximity in larger numbers than ever before, and as a result heard each other's music and even began to emulate each other's fashions. Radio stations that made white and black forms of music available to both groups, the development and spread of the gramophone record, and African-American musical styles such as jazz and swing which were taken up by white musicians, aided this process of "cultural collision".
The immediate roots of rock and roll lay in the rhythm and blues, then called "race music", and country music of the 1940s and 1950s. Particularly significant influences were jazz, blues, gospel, country, and folk. Commentators differ in their views of which of these forms were most important and the degree to which the new music was a re-branding of African-American rhythm and blues for a white market, or a new hybrid of black and white forms.
In the 1930s, jazz, and particularly swing, both in urban-based dance bands and blues-influenced country swing (Jimmie Rodgers, Moon Mullican and other similar singers), were among the first music to present African-American sounds for a predominantly white audience. One particularly noteworthy example of a jazz song with recognizably rock and roll elements is Big Joe Turner with pianist Pete Johnson's 1939 single Roll 'Em Pete, which is regarded as an important precursor of rock and roll. The 1940s saw the increased use of blaring horns (including saxophones), shouted lyrics and boogie woogie beats in jazz-based music. During and immediately after World War II, with shortages of fuel and limitations on audiences and available personnel, large jazz bands were less economical and tended to be replaced by smaller combos, using guitars, bass and drums. In the same period, particularly on the West Coast and in the Midwest, the development of jump blues, with its guitar riffs, prominent beats and shouted lyrics, prefigured many later developments. In the documentary film Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, Keith Richards proposes that Chuck Berry developed his brand of rock and roll by transposing the familiar two-note lead line of jump blues piano directly to the electric guitar, creating what is instantly recognizable as rock guitar. Similarly, country boogie and Chicago electric blues supplied many of the elements that would be seen as characteristic of rock and roll. Inspired by electric blues, Chuck Berry introduced an aggressive guitar sound to rock and roll, and established the electric guitar as its centrepiece, adapting his rock band instrumentation from the basic blues band instrumentation of a lead guitar, second chord instrument, bass and drums.
Rock and roll arrived at a time of considerable technological change, soon after the development of the electric guitar, amplifier and microphone, and the 45 rpm record. There were also changes in the record industry, with the rise of independent labels like Atlantic, Sun and Chess servicing niche audiences and a similar rise of radio stations that played their music. It was the realization that relatively affluent white teenagers were listening to this music that led to the development of what was to be defined as rock and roll as a distinct genre. Because the development of rock and roll was an evolutionary process, no single record can be identified as unambiguously "the first" rock and roll record. Contenders for the title of "first rock and roll record" include Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Strange Things Happening Every Day" (1944), "The Fat Man" by Fats Domino (1949), Goree Carter's "Rock Awhile" (1949), Jimmy Preston's "Rock the Joint" (1949), which was later covered by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1952, "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (Ike Turner and his band The Kings of Rhythm), recorded by Sam Phillips for Sun Records in March 1951. In terms of its wide cultural impact across society in the US and elsewhere, Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock", recorded in April 1954 but not a commercial success until the following year, is generally recognized as an important milestone, but it was preceded by many recordings from earlier decades in which elements of rock and roll can be clearly discerned.
Other artists with early rock and roll hits included Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Gene Vincent. Chuck Berry's 1955 classic "Maybellene" in particular features a distorted electric guitar solo with warm overtones created by his small valve amplifier. However, the use of distortion was predated by electric blues guitarists such as Joe Hill Louis, Guitar Slim, Willie Johnson of Howlin' Wolf's band, and Pat Hare; the latter two also made use of distorted power chords in the early 1950s. Also in 1955, Bo Diddley introduced the "Bo Diddley beat" and a unique electric guitar style, influenced by African and Afro-Cuban music and in turn influencing many later artists.
"Rockabilly" usually (but not exclusively) refers to the type of rock and roll music which was played and recorded in the mid-1950s primarily by white singers such as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, who drew mainly on the country roots of the music. Elvis Presley was greatly influenced and incorporated his style of music with some of the greatest African American musicians like BB King, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. His style of music combined with black influences created controversy during a turbulent time in history but that did not stop them from creating what we call Rock n Roll. Many other popular rock and roll singers of the time, such as Fats Domino and Little Richard, came out of the black rhythm and blues tradition, making the music attractive to white audiences, and are not usually classed as "rockabilly".
In July 1954, Elvis Presley recorded the regional hit "That's All Right" at Sam Phillips' Sun Studio in Memphis. Three months earlier, on April 12, 1954, Bill Haley & His Comets recorded "Rock Around the Clock". Although only a minor hit when first released, when used in the opening sequence of the movie Blackboard Jungle a year later, it set the rock and roll boom in motion. The song became one of the biggest hits in history, and frenzied teens flocked to see Haley and the Comets perform it, causing riots in some cities. "Rock Around the Clock" was a breakthrough for both the group and for all of rock and roll music. If everything that came before laid the groundwork, "Rock Around the Clock" introduced the music to a global audience.
In 1956, the arrival of rockabilly was underlined by the success of songs like "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash, "Blue Suede Shoes" by Perkins and the No. 1 hit "Heartbreak Hotel" by Presley. For a few years it became the most commercially successful form of rock and roll. Later rockabilly acts, particularly performing songwriters like Buddy Holly, would be a major influence on British Invasion acts and particularly on the song writing of the Beatles and through them on the nature of later rock music.
Doo-wop was one of the most popular forms of 1950s rhythm and blues, often compared with rock and roll, with an emphasis on multi-part vocal harmonies and meaningless backing lyrics (from which the genre later gained its name), which were usually supported with light instrumentation. Its origins were in African-American vocal groups of the 1930s and 40s, such as the Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers, who had enjoyed considerable commercial success with arrangements based on close harmonies. They were followed by 1940s R&B vocal acts such as the Orioles, the Ravens and the Clovers, who injected a strong element of traditional gospel and, increasingly, the energy of jump blues. By 1954, as rock and roll was beginning to emerge, a number of similar acts began to cross over from the R&B charts to mainstream success, often with added honking brass and saxophone, with the Crows, the Penguins, the El Dorados and the Turbans all scoring major hits. Despite the subsequent explosion in records from doo wop acts in the later '50s, many failed to chart or were one-hit wonders. Exceptions included the Platters, with songs including "The Great Pretender" (1955) and the Coasters with humorous songs like "Yakety Yak" (1958), both of which ranked among the most successful rock and roll acts of the era. Towards the end of the decade there were increasing numbers of white, particularly Italian-American, singers taking up Doo Wop, creating all-white groups like the Mystics and Dion and the Belmonts and racially integrated groups like the Del-Vikings and the Impalas. Doo-wop would be a major influence on vocal surf music, soul and early Merseybeat, including the Beatles.
Many of the earliest white rock and roll hits were covers or partial re-writes of earlier black rhythm and blues or blues songs. Through the late 1940s and early 1950s, R&B music had been gaining a stronger beat and a wilder style, with artists such as Fats Domino and Johnny Otis speeding up the tempos and increasing the backbeat to great popularity on the juke joint circuit. Before the efforts of Freed and others, black music was taboo on many white-owned radio outlets, but artists and producers quickly recognized the potential of rock and roll. Some of Presley's early recordings were covers of black rhythm and blues or blues songs, such as "That's All Right" (a countrified arrangement of a blues number), "Baby Let's Play House", "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" and "Hound Dog". The racial lines, however, are rather more clouded by the fact that some of these R&B songs originally recorded by black artists had been written by white songwriters, such as the team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Songwriting credits were often unreliable; many publishers, record executives, and even managers (both white and black) would insert their name as a composer in order to collect royalty checks.
Covers were customary in the music industry at the time; it was made particularly easy by the compulsory license provision of United States copyright law (still in effect). One of the first relevant successful covers was Wynonie Harris's transformation of Roy Brown's 1947 original jump blues hit "Good Rocking Tonight" into a more showy rocker and the Louis Prima rocker "Oh Babe" in 1950, as well as Amos Milburn's cover of what may have been the first white rock and roll record, Hardrock Gunter's "Birmingham Bounce" in 1949. The most notable trend, however, was white pop covers of black R&B numbers. The more familiar sound of these covers may have been more palatable to white audiences, there may have been an element of prejudice, but labels aimed at the white market also had much better distribution networks and were generally much more profitable. Famously, Pat Boone recorded sanitized versions of songs recorded by the likes of Fats Domino, Little Richard, the Flamingos and Ivory Joe Hunter. Later, as those songs became popular, the original artists' recordings received radio play as well.
The cover versions were not necessarily straightforward imitations. For example, Bill Haley's incompletely bowdlerized cover of "Shake, Rattle and Roll" transformed Big Joe Turner's humorous and racy tale of adult love into an energetic teen dance number, while Georgia Gibbs replaced Etta James's tough, sarcastic vocal in "Roll With Me, Henry" (covered as "Dance With Me, Henry") with a perkier vocal more appropriate for an audience unfamiliar with the song to which James's song was an answer, Hank Ballard's "Work With Me, Annie". Elvis' rock and roll version of "Hound Dog", taken mainly from a version recorded by the pop band Freddie Bell and the Bellboys, was very different from the blues shouter that Big Mama Thornton had recorded four years earlier. Other white artists who recorded cover versions of rhythm & blues songs included Gale Storm [Smiley Lewis' "I Hear You Knockin'"], the Diamonds [The Gladiolas' "Little Darlin'" and Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers' "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?"], the Crew Cuts [the Chords' "Sh-Boom" and Nappy Brown's "Don't Be Angry"], the Fountain Sisters [The Jewels' "Hearts of Stone"] and the Maguire Sisters [The Moonglows' "Sincerely"].
Some commentators have suggested a decline of rock and roll in the late 1950s and early 1960s. By 1959, the deaths of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens in a plane crash (February 1959), the departure of Elvis for service in the United States Army (March 1958), the retirement of Little Richard to become a preacher (October 1957), the scandal surrounding Jerry Lee Lewis' marriage to his thirteen-year-old cousin (May 1958), the arrest of Chuck Berry (December 1959), and the breaking of the Payola scandal implicating major figures, including Alan Freed, in bribery and corruption in promoting individual acts or songs (November 1959), gave a sense that the initial phase of rock and roll had come to an end.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the rawer sounds of Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly were commercially superseded by a more polished, commercial style of rock and roll. Marketing frequently emphasized the physical looks of the artist rather than the music, contributing to the successful careers of Rick Nelson, Tommy Sands, Bobby Vee and the Philadelphia trio of Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon and Fabian, who all became "teen idols."
Some music historians have also pointed to important and innovative developments that built on rock and roll in this period, including multitrack recording, developed by Les Paul, the electronic treatment of sound by such innovators as Joe Meek, and the "Wall of Sound" productions of Phil Spector, continued desegregation of the charts, the rise of surf music, garage rock and the Twist dance craze. Surf rock in particular, noted for the use of reverb-drenched guitars, became one of the most popular forms of American rock of the 1960s.
In the 1950s, Britain was well placed to receive American rock and roll music and culture. It shared a common language, had been exposed to American culture through the stationing of troops in the country, and shared many social developments, including the emergence of distinct youth sub-cultures, which in Britain included the Teddy Boys and the rockers. Trad Jazz became popular, and many of its musicians were influenced by related American styles, including boogie woogie and the blues. The skiffle craze, led by Lonnie Donegan, utilised amateurish versions of American folk songs and encouraged many of the subsequent generation of rock and roll, folk, R&B and beat musicians to start performing. At the same time British audiences were beginning to encounter American rock and roll, initially through films including Blackboard Jungle (1955) and Rock Around the Clock (1955). Both movies contained the Bill Haley & His Comets hit "Rock Around the Clock", which first entered the British charts in early 1955 – four months before it reached the US pop charts – topped the British charts later that year and again in 1956, and helped identify rock and roll with teenage delinquency. American rock and roll acts such as Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins thereafter became major forces in the British charts.
The initial response of the British music industry was to attempt to produce copies of American records, recorded with session musicians and often fronted by teen idols. More grassroots British rock and rollers soon began to appear, including Wee Willie Harris and Tommy Steele. During this period American Rock and Roll remained dominant; however, in 1958 Britain produced its first "authentic" rock and roll song and star, when Cliff Richard reached number 2 in the charts with "Move It". At the same time, TV shows such as Six-Five Special and Oh Boy! promoted the careers of British rock and rollers like Marty Wilde and Adam Faith. Cliff Richard and his backing band, the Shadows, were the most successful home grown rock and roll based acts of the era. Other leading acts included Billy Fury, Joe Brown, and Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, whose 1960 hit song "Shakin' All Over" became a rock and roll standard.
As interest in rock and roll was beginning to subside in America in the late 1950s and early 1960s, it was taken up by groups in major British urban centres like Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and London. About the same time, a British blues scene developed, initially led by purist blues followers such as Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies who were directly inspired by American musicians such as Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. Many groups moved towards the beat music of rock and roll and rhythm and blues from skiffle, like the Quarrymen who became the Beatles, producing a form of rock and roll revivalism that carried them and many other groups to national success from about 1963 and to international success from 1964, known in America as the British Invasion. Groups that followed the Beatles included the beat-influenced Freddie and the Dreamers, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Herman's Hermits and the Dave Clark Five. Early British rhythm and blues groups with more blues influences include the Animals, the Rolling Stones, and the Yardbirds.
Rock and roll influenced lifestyles, fashion, attitudes, and language. In addition, rock and roll may have contributed to the civil rights movement because both African-American and white American teens enjoyed the music.
Many early rock and roll songs dealt with issues of cars, school, dating, and clothing. The lyrics of rock and roll songs described events and conflicts that most listeners could relate to through personal experience. Topics such as sex that had generally been considered taboo began to appear in rock and roll lyrics. This new music tried to break boundaries and express emotions that people were actually feeling but had not talked about. An awakening began to take place in American youth culture.
In the crossover of African-American "race music" to a growing white youth audience, the popularization of rock and roll involved both black performers reaching a white audience and white musicians performing African-American music. Rock and roll appeared at a time when racial tensions in the United States were entering a new phase, with the beginnings of the civil rights movement for desegregation, leading to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that abolished the policy of "separate but equal" in 1954, but leaving a policy which would be extremely difficult to enforce in parts of the United States. The coming together of white youth audiences and black music in rock and roll inevitably provoked strong white racist reactions within the US, with many whites condemning its breaking down of barriers based on color. Many observers saw rock and roll as heralding the way for desegregation, in creating a new form of music that encouraged racial cooperation and shared experience. Many authors have argued that early rock and roll was instrumental in the way both white and black teenagers identified themselves.
Several rock historians have claimed that rock and roll was one of the first music genres to define an age group. It gave teenagers a sense of belonging, even when they were alone. Rock and roll is often identified with the emergence of teen culture among the first baby boomer generation, who had greater relative affluence and leisure time and adopted rock and roll as part of a distinct subculture. This involved not just music, absorbed via radio, record buying, jukeboxes and TV programs like American Bandstand, but also extended to film, clothes, hair, cars and motorbikes, and distinctive language. The youth culture exemplified by rock and roll was a recurring source of concern for older generations, who worried about juvenile delinquency and social rebellion, particularly because to a large extent rock and roll culture was shared by different racial and social groups.
In America, that concern was conveyed even in youth cultural artifacts such as comic books. In "There's No Romance in Rock and Roll" from True Life Romance (1956), a defiant teen dates a rock and roll-loving boy but drops him for one who likes traditional adult music—to her parents' relief. In Britain, where postwar prosperity was more limited, rock and roll culture became attached to the pre-existing Teddy Boy movement, largely working class in origin, and eventually to the rockers. Rock and roll has been seen as reorienting popular music toward a youth market, as in Dion and the Belmonts' "A Teenager in Love" (1960).
From its early 1950s beginnings through the early 1960s, rock and roll spawned new dance crazes including the twist. Teenagers found the syncopated backbeat rhythm especially suited to reviving Big Band-era jitterbug dancing. Sock hops, school and church gym dances, and home basement dance parties became the rage, and American teens watched Dick Clark's American Bandstand to keep up on the latest dance and fashion styles. From the mid-1960s on, as "rock and roll" was rebranded as "rock," later dance genres followed, leading to funk, disco, house, techno, and hip hop.
His first venture, the Phillips label, issued only one known release, and it was one of the loudest, most overdriven, and distorted guitar stomps ever recorded, "Boogie in the Park" by Memphis one-man-band Joe Hill Louis, who cranked his guitar while sitting and banging at a rudimentary drum kit.
Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959), known professionally as Buddy Holly, was an American musician, singer-songwriter and record producer who was a central and pioneering figure of mid-1950s rock and roll. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, to a musical family during the Great Depression, and learned to play guitar and sing alongside his siblings. His style was influenced by gospel music, country music, and rhythm and blues acts, and he performed in Lubbock with his friends from high school.
He made his first appearance on local television in 1952, and the following year he formed the group "Buddy and Bob" with his friend Bob Montgomery. In 1955, after opening for Elvis Presley, he decided to pursue a career in music. He opened for Presley three times that year; his band's style shifted from country and western to entirely rock and roll. In October that year, when he opened for Bill Haley & His Comets, he was spotted by Nashville scout Eddie Crandall, who helped him get a contract with Decca Records.
Holly's recording sessions at Decca were produced by Owen Bradley, who had become famous for producing orchestrated country hits for stars like Patsy Cline. Unhappy with Bradley's musical style and control in the studio, Holly went to producer Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico, and recorded a demo of "That'll Be the Day", among other songs. Petty became the band's manager and sent the demo to Brunswick Records, which released it as a single credited to "The Crickets", which became the name of Holly's band. In September 1957, as the band toured, "That'll Be the Day" topped the US and UK singles charts. Its success was followed in October by another major hit, "Peggy Sue".
The album Chirping Crickets, released in November 1957, reached number five on the UK Albums Chart. Holly made his second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in January 1958 and soon after, toured Australia and then the UK. In early 1959, he assembled a new band, consisting of future country music star Waylon Jennings (bass), famed session musician Tommy Allsup (guitar), and Carl Bunch (drums), and embarked on a tour of the midwestern U.S. After a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, he chartered an airplane to travel to his next show, in Moorhead, Minnesota. Soon after takeoff, the plane crashed, killing Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, and pilot Roger Peterson in a tragedy later referred to by Don McLean as "The Day the Music Died".
During his short career, Holly wrote, recorded, and produced his own material. He is often regarded as the artist who defined the traditional rock-and-roll lineup of two guitars, bass, and drums. He was a major influence on later popular music artists, including Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Elton John. He was among the first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1986. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 13 in its list of "100 Greatest Artists".Chuck Berry
Charles Edward Anderson Berry (October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017) was an American singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene" (1955), "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956), "Rock and Roll Music" (1957) and "Johnny B. Goode" (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive. Writing lyrics that focused on teen life and consumerism, and developing a music style that included guitar solos and showmanship, Berry was a major influence on subsequent rock music.Born into a middle-class African-American family in St. Louis, Missouri, Berry had an interest in music from an early age and gave his first public performance at Sumner High School. While still a high school student he was convicted of armed robbery and was sent to a reformatory, where he was held from 1944 to 1947. After his release, Berry settled into married life and worked at an automobile assembly plant. By early 1953, influenced by the guitar riffs and showmanship techniques of the blues musician T-Bone Walker, Berry began performing with the Johnnie Johnson Trio. His break came when he traveled to Chicago in May 1955 and met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess, of Chess Records. With Chess, he recorded "Maybellene"—Berry's adaptation of the country song "Ida Red"—which sold over a million copies, reaching number one on Billboard magazine's rhythm and blues chart. By the end of the 1950s, Berry was an established star, with several hit records and film appearances and a lucrative touring career. He had also established his own St. Louis nightclub, Berry's Club Bandstand. However, he was sentenced to three years in prison in January 1962 for offenses under the Mann Act—he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines. After his release in 1963, Berry had several more hits, including "No Particular Place to Go", "You Never Can Tell", and "Nadine". But these did not achieve the same success, or lasting impact, of his 1950s songs, and by the 1970s he was more in demand as a nostalgic performer, playing his past hits with local backup bands of variable quality. However, in 1972 he reached a new level of achievement when a rendition of "My Ding-a-Ling" became his only record to top the charts. His insistence on being paid in cash led in 1979 to a four-month jail sentence and community service, for tax evasion.
Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986; he was cited for having "laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance." Berry is included in several of Rolling Stone magazine's "greatest of all time" lists; he was ranked fifth on its 2004 and 2011 lists of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll includes three of Berry's: "Johnny B. Goode", "Maybellene", and "Rock and Roll Music". Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" is the only rock-and-roll song included on the Voyager Golden Record.Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis (born September 29, 1935) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and pianist, often known by his nickname, The Killer. He has been described as "rock & roll's first great wild man."A pioneer of rock and roll and rockabilly music, Lewis made his first recordings in 1956 at Sun Records in Memphis. "Crazy Arms" sold 300,000 copies in the South, but it was his 1957 hit "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" that shot Lewis to fame worldwide. He followed this with "Great Balls of Fire", "Breathless" and "High School Confidential". However, Lewis's rock and roll career faltered in the wake of his marriage to Myra Gale Brown, his 13-year-old cousin.
He had minimal success in the charts following the scandal, and his popularity quickly eroded. Sun Records, through its label Phillips International, released "In the Mood" credited to The Hawk in an attempt to have the record-buyers think it was someone other than Lewis. They didn't buy it. His live performance fees plummeted from $10,000 per night to $250. In the meantime he was determined to gain back some of his popularity. In the early 1960s, he did not have much chart success, with few exceptions, such as a cover of Ray Charles's "What'd I Say". His live performances at this time were increasingly wild and energetic. His 1964 live album Live at the Star Club, Hamburg is regarded by music journalists and fans as one of the wildest and greatest live rock albums ever. In 1968, Lewis made a transition into country music and had hits with songs such as "Another Place, Another Time". This reignited his career, and throughout the late 1960s and 1970s he regularly topped the country-western charts; throughout his seven-decade career, Lewis has had 30 songs reach the top 10 on the "Billboard Country and Western Chart". His No. 1 country hits included "To Make Love Sweeter for You", "There Must Be More to Love Than This", "Would You Take Another Chance on Me", and "Me and Bobby McGee".
Lewis's successes continued throughout the decade and he embraced his rock and roll past with songs such as a cover of the Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace" and Mack Vickery's "Rockin' My Life Away". In the 21st century Lewis continues to tour around the world and still releases new albums. His album Last Man Standing is his best selling to date, with over a million copies sold worldwide. This was followed by Mean Old Man, which has received some of the best sales of Lewis's career.
Lewis has a dozen gold records in both rock and country. He won several Grammy awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. Lewis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and his pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the inaugural class inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. In 1989, his life was chronicled in the movie Great Balls of Fire, starring Dennis Quaid. In 2003, Rolling Stone listed his box set All Killer, No Filler: The Anthology number 242 on their list of "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In 2004, they ranked him number 24 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Lewis is the last surviving member of Sun Records' Million Dollar Quartet and the Class of '55 album, which also included Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley.
Music critic Robert Christgau has said of Lewis: "His drive, his timing, his offhand vocal power, his unmistakable boogie-plus piano, and his absolute confidence in the face of the void make Jerry Lee the quintessential rock and roller."List of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, established in 1983 and located in Cleveland, Ohio, United States, is dedicated to recording the history of some of the best-known and most influential musicians, bands, producers, and others that have in some major way influenced the music industry, particularly in the area of rock and roll. Originally, there were four categories of induction: performers, non-performers, early influences, and lifetime achievement. In 2000, "sidemen" was introduced as a category.
The only category that has seen new inductees every single year is the performers category. Artists become eligible for induction in that category 25 years after the release of their first record. In order to be inducted, an artist must be nominated by a committee that selects anywhere from nine to a dozen candidates. Ballots are then sent to 600 "rock experts" who evaluate the candidates and vote on who should be inducted. The performers that receive the highest number of votes and more than 50 percent of the vote are inducted. The rest of the categories are voted on by special committees. As of 2017, new inductees will be honored at an annual ceremony held alternately in New York and at the Hall of Fame in Cleveland; prior to that, the ceremonies rotated between Cleveland, New York, and Los Angeles.The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has garnered criticism for allegedly allowing the nomination process to be controlled by a few individuals, nominating too many artists in too many genres that are not entirely rock, ignoring entire rock genres, and using technicalities to induct groups who may not have been among the top vote getters. The Sex Pistols, who were inducted in 2006, refused to attend the ceremony; John Lydon writing a note, read out by Jann Wenner, calling the museum a "piss stain."Little Richard
Richard Wayne Penniman (born December 5, 1932), known as Little Richard, is an American recording artist, musician, singer, songwriter and actor.
An influential figure in popular music and culture for seven decades, Penniman's most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his dynamic music and charismatic showmanship laid the foundation for rock and roll. His music also played a key role in the formation of other popular music genres, including soul and funk. Penniman influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to hip hop; his music helped shape rhythm and blues for generations to come, and his performances and headline-making thrust his career right into the mix of American popular music.
Penniman has been honored by many institutions. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of its first group of inductees in 1986. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" (1955) was included in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2010, which stated that his "unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music."
In 2015, the National Museum of African American Music honored Little Richard with a Rhapsody & Rhythm Award for his pivotal role in the formation of popular music genres and in helping to shatter the color line on the music charts, changing American culture significantly.Old Time Rock and Roll
"Old Time Rock and Roll" is a song written by George Jackson and Thomas E. Jones III, and recorded by Bob Seger for his 1978 album Stranger in Town. It was also released as a single in 1979. It is a sentimentalized look back at the music of the original rock 'n' roll era. The song gained renewed popularity after being featured in the 1983 film Risky Business. It has since become a standard in popular music and was ranked number two on the Amusement & Music Operators Association's survey of the Top 40 Jukebox Singles of All Time in 1996. It was also listed as one of the Songs of the Century in 2001 and ranked No. 100 in the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Songs poll in 2004 of the top songs in American cinema.Origins of rock and roll
Rock and roll emerged as a defined musical style in the United States in the early to mid-1950s. It derived most directly from the rhythm and blues music of the 1940s, which itself developed from earlier blues, boogie woogie, jazz and swing music, and was also influenced by gospel, country and western, and traditional folk music. Rock and roll in turn provided the main basis for the music that, since the mid-1960s, has been generally known simply as rock music.
The phrase "rocking and rolling" originally described the movement of a ship on the ocean, but it was used by the early 20th century, both to describe a spiritual fervor and as a sexual analogy. Various gospel, blues and swing recordings used the phrase before it became used more frequently – but still intermittently – in the late 1930s and 1940s, principally on recordings and in reviews of what became known as "rhythm and blues" music aimed at black audiences. In 1951, Cleveland-based disc jockey Alan Freed began playing this music style while popularizing the term "rock and roll" to describe it.Various recordings that date back to the 1940s have been named as the first rock and roll record.Pop rock
Pop rock (also typeset as pop/rock) is rock music with a greater emphasis on professional songwriting and recording craft, and less emphasis on attitude. Originating in the 1950s as an alternative to rock and roll, early pop rock was influenced by the beat, arrangements, and style of rock and roll (and sometimes doo-wop). It may be viewed as a distinct genre field, rather than music that overlaps with pop and rock. The detractors of pop rock often deride it as a slick, commercial product, less authentic than rock music.Ritchie Valens
Richard Steven Valenzuela (May 13, 1941 – February 3, 1959), known professionally as Ritchie Valens, was a Mexican American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. A rock and roll pioneer and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement, Valens' recording career lasted eight months, as it abruptly ended when he died in a plane crash.During this time, he had several hits, most notably "La Bamba", which he had adapted from a Mexican folk song. Valens transformed the song into one with a rock rhythm and beat, and it became a hit in 1958, making Valens a pioneer of the Spanish-speaking rock and roll movement. He also had the American number 2 hit ''Donna''.
On February 3, 1959, on what has become known as "The Day the Music Died", Valens died in a plane crash in Iowa, an accident that also claimed the lives of fellow musicians Buddy Holly and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, as well as pilot Roger Peterson. Valens was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.Rock and Roll (Gary Glitter song)
"Rock and Roll" is a song by English glam rock singer Gary Glitter that was released in 1972 as a single and on the album Glitter. Co-written by Glitter and Mike Leander, the song is in two parts: Part 1 is a vocal track reflecting on the history of the genre, and Part 2 is a mostly instrumental piece. Both parts were popular in Britain, and the single went to No. 2 on the British charts. In concert, Glitter merged both into one performance.
"Rock and Roll" is Glitter's only top 10 hit in the U.S. It was also in North America that the "Part 2" became popularly associated with sports, as a number of professional teams began to play the song during games to invigorate the audience.
In the UK, "Rock and Roll" was one of over 25 hit singles for Glitter. In the US, the instrumental version (Part 2) attracted most of the attention; it hit No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The US mono 45, which is mixed different from the LP, clocks in at 3:10, while it runs 2:58 on the US LP. In France, "Part 1" was the successful side, peaking at number-one.Rock and Roll All Nite
"Rock and Roll All Nite" is a song by American hard rock band Kiss, originally released on their 1975 album Dressed to Kill. It was released as the A-side of their fifth single, with the album track "Getaway". The studio version of the song peaked at No. 68 on the Billboard singles chart, besting the band's previous charting single, "Kissin' Time" (#89). A subsequent live version, released as a single in October 1975, eventually reached No. 12 in early 1976, the first of six Top 20 songs for Kiss in the 1970s. "Rock and Roll All Nite" became Kiss's signature song and has served as the group's closing concert number in almost every concert since 1976. In 2008 it was named the 16th greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.The members of Kiss were under intense pressure to put together their third album, 1975's Dressed to Kill. They were abruptly called off tour to work on a follow-up to 1974's Hotter Than Hell when the album began to die on the charts, even though they had no new songs ready. The sessions were being produced by the head of their label, Neil Bogart, who was upset that the band had yet to successfully capture the excitement of their live act on record and wanted to correct the problem himself.
Rushed to come up with material, the band dipped into their backlog of older songs, as well as writing new ones and then recording them immediately. Bogart suggested that head songwriters Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons come up with an anthem that would serve as a rallying cry for Kiss and their fans, suggesting something akin to Sly & the Family Stone's "I Want to Take You Higher". While writing back at the hotel, Stanley came up with the line "I want to rock and roll all night, and party every day." After showing the new line to Simmons, he added parts from an older song, reportedly titled "Drive Me Wild".When the song was issued as a single a few months later, it did not storm up the charts. With record label Casablanca in deep financial trouble, Kiss was thinking of leaving for another label, but decided to issue a live album, Alive!, later in 1975. The live version of the song was longer than the studio take (including an Ace Frehley guitar solo that was absent from the original), but, as Bogart hoped, it became a number 12 hit, driving straight up the charts the album from which it was taken.Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie, recognizes and archives the history of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures who have had some major influence on the development of rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was established on April 20, 1983, by Ahmet Ertegun, founder and chairman of Atlantic Records. In 1986, Cleveland was chosen as the Hall of Fame's permanent home.Rock and Roll Music
"Rock and Roll Music" is a 1957 hit single written and recorded by rock and roll star Chuck Berry. The song has been widely covered and is recognized as one of Berry's most popular and enduring compositions. In the fall of 1957, his recording reached number 6 on Billboard magazine's R&B Singles chart and number 8 on its Hot 100 chart.The song has been recorded by many well-known artists. The Beatles' 1964 recording topped singles charts in Europe and in Australia, and the Beach Boys had a U.S. top ten hit with the song in 1976. Other artists who have cover the song include Bill Haley & His Comets, Dickie Rock and the Miami Showband, REO Speedwagon, Mental As Anything, Humble Pie, Manic Street Preachers, and Bryan Adams. Berry performed it on December 16, 1957, on ABC's short-lived variety program The Guy Mitchell Show.
In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Berry's version number 128 on its list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". The song is also included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.Rock concert
A rock concert is a musical performance in the style of any one of many genres inspired by "rock and roll" music. While a variety of vocal and instrumental styles can constitute a rock concert, this phenomenon is typically characterized by bands playing at least one electric guitar, an electric bass guitar, and drums. Often, two guitar players share the tasks of rhythm and lead guitar playing. Rock concerts also have a social history which shapes the perception of the linguistic term and the activity itself.
During the 1950s, several American musical groups experimented with new musical forms that fused country music, blues, and swing genre to produce the earliest examples of "rock and roll." The coining of the phrase, "rock and roll," is often attributed to American, Alan Freed, a disk jockey and concert promoter who organized many of the first major rock concerts. Since then, the rock concert has become a staple of entertainment not only in the United States, but around the world.
The term 'rock concert' is also occasionally used to refer to live performances by distinctly non-rock acts. Live performances by pop, hip-hop, and R&B bands may not be rock concerts in the strictest sense, but they are often referred to as rock concerts regardless. These performances typically share many characteristics with rock concerts, such as an overall party atmosphere.
Bill Graham is widely credited with setting the format and standards for modern rock concerts. He introduced advance ticketing (and later computerized, online tickets), introduced modern security measures (a reaction to the deaths at the Altamont concert) and had clean toilets and safe conditions in large venues.Rock concerts are often associated with certain kinds of behavior. Dancing, shouting, singing along with the band, and ostentatious displays by the musicians are common, though some very successful rock bands have avoided gratuitous flash in favor of understated performances focusing on the music itself. Even so, rock concerts often have a playful atmosphere both for the band and the audience.
Like rock music in general, rock concerts are emblematic of American culture's waning formality. Such concerts were crucial to the formation of youth identity in the U.S. during a time of social revolution, and have continued to represent elements of society frequently seen as "rebellious," especially against the strictures of mid-twentieth-century social normativities. One of the most well-known rock concerts was undoubtedly Woodstock, and millions of much smaller rock concerts go on every year.Rock music
Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.
By the late 1960s "classic rock" period, a number of distinct rock music subgenres had emerged, including hybrids like blues rock, folk rock, country rock, southern rock, raga rock, and jazz-rock, many of which contributed to the development of psychedelic rock, which was influenced by the countercultural psychedelic and hippie scene. New genres that emerged included progressive rock, which extended the artistic elements; glam rock, which highlighted showmanship and visual style; and the diverse and enduring subgenre of heavy metal, which emphasized volume, power, and speed. In the second half of the 1970s, punk rock reacted by producing stripped-down, energetic social and political critiques. Punk was an influence in the 1980s on new wave, post-punk and eventually alternative rock. From the 1990s alternative rock began to dominate rock music and break into the mainstream in the form of grunge, Britpop, and indie rock. Further fusion subgenres have since emerged, including pop punk, electronic rock, rap rock, and rap metal, as well as conscious attempts to revisit rock's history, including the garage rock/post-punk and techno-pop revivals at the beginning of the 2000s.
Rock music has also embodied and served as the vehicle for cultural and social movements, leading to major subcultures including mods and rockers in the UK and the hippie counterculture that spread out from San Francisco in the US in the 1960s. Similarly, 1970s punk culture spawned the goth, punk, and emo subcultures. Inheriting the folk tradition of the protest song, rock music has been associated with political activism as well as changes in social attitudes to race, sex and drug use, and is often seen as an expression of youth revolt against adult consumerism and conformity.The History of Rock and Roll
The History of Rock & Roll is a US radio documentary on rock and roll music, originally syndicated in 1969. One of the lengthiest documentaries of any medium (48 hours in the 1969 version, 52 hours each for the 1978 and 1981 versions), The History of Rock & Roll is a definitive history of the Rock and Roll genre, stretching from the early 1950s to its day. The "rockumentary," as producers Bill Drake and Gene Chenault called it, features hundreds of interviews and comments from numerous rock artists and people involved with rock and roll.
Notable features introduced in the 1978 edition of this documentary include the "chart sweep," featuring a montage of #1 songs and notable hits from a given year or artist, a "time sweep" for each one-hour segment providing a montage of the major hits for each year or individual artist, and closing with a special climactic time sweep featuring a montage of every #1 hit from 1955 to the year of the latest version.
While the documentary focuses on Rock & Roll and its variants, some songs and artists from other genres are also represented as they also became major hits on stations that primarily played Rock & Roll.
A revised version of the series is currently syndicated to internet networks as a short-form segment hosted by Gary Theroux, writer of the 1978 and 1981 editions.The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus
The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus was a concert show organised by the Rolling Stones on 11 December 1968. The show was filmed on a makeshift circus stage with Jethro Tull, the Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, and the Rolling Stones. John Lennon and his fiancee Yoko Ono also performed as part of a one-shot supergroup called the Dirty Mac, featuring Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell, and Keith Richards.
The original idea for the concert was going to include the Small Faces, the Rolling Stones, and the Who, and the concept of a circus was first thought up between Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane. It was meant to be aired on the BBC, but instead the Rolling Stones withheld it. The Rolling Stones contended they did so because of their substandard performance, clearly exhausted after 15 hours (and some indulgence in drugs). There is also the fact that this was Brian Jones last appearance with the Rolling Stones; he drowned some seven months later while the film was being edited. Some speculate that another reason for not releasing the film was that the Who, who were fresh off a concert tour, seemingly upstaged the Stones on their own production.
Led Zeppelin was considered for inclusion but the idea was dropped. The show was not released commercially until 1996.The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (album)
The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus is the fifth release of The Rolling Stones music by former manager Allen Klein's ABKCO Records (who gained control of the band's Decca/London material in 1970) after the band's departure from Decca and Klein. Released in 1996, The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus is a live album that captures the taping of their ill-fated 1968 TV special, which was not broadcast until decades later.
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