Rock And Roll Essay

2946 Words12 Pages
The Power of Rock:
The British Invasion of the 1960s and Its Effect on
American Popular Culture

A Paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of
United States History

Jay Jadeja

Department of History
St. Albans School
Washington, D.C.
April 22nd, 2014

Rock and roll. These three words represent a culture of freedom and rebellion, innovation and individual expression. This distinct genre of music is not only recognized and respected elements of many populations in the world, but also the inspiration for newer genres, like pop and rap. The creation of its identity, however, lies in its past. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, a new genre ascended in America. It encompassed a combination of elements from other musical genres like jazz, blues, western swing, and country music. Finally, in the 1950s, the genre acquired its name—rock and roll. It had a new name and a new style, and while American culture was evolving, many Americans embraced the rock and roll ethos. Rock and roll culture spoke to the youth about rebellion and questioning authority. It inspired listeners to transform their norms—the way they spoke, the way they dressed, the way they thought. In its earliest years, rock and roll was primarily American. Foreign musicians, like Cliff Richard and the Shadows, recognized America’s supremacy over the genre, as American musicians, such as Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry, controlled the music scene. As the genre progressed through the 1950s, however, it spread to Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, and engendered reactions that changed its style forever; one reaction, in particular, influenced the genre so much that it was given a name: the British Invasion. The ba...

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...a single country’s creation into an art form that spread across the world. After the U.S. invented the genre and had the opportunity to monopolize it, the British broke in and changed it forever. The flood of British influence onto American popular music had a completely transformational effect, not only on the listeners, but also on the other artists who produced music. The British musicians infiltrated almost every aspect of popular culture and transformed it—they changed fashion, music, and the mindset of the youth. The British Invasion started a creative competition to expand the genre of rock and roll and exposed each country’s unique imprint on the art form—each musician’s mark made the others improve. It heightened the standard of music being produced in the 1960s and solidified rock and roll’s location at the top of the mountain of popular music in America.

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