Rock and Roll

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Rock and Roll Rock and Roll is an economic thing," says "pop" singer Jo Stafford, quoted in Billboard, October 13, 1958. "Today's nine-to fourteen year old group is the first generation with enough money given to them by their parents to buy records in sufficent quanities to influence the market. In my youth if I asked my father for 45 cents to buy a record, he'd have thought seriously about having me committed." A teenager growing up in the prior to the end of WW II was forced to take life fairly seriously. Males were expected to join the services or to go out get a job, help support his family or a new bride. Women were expected to meet a man, marry and have children. College was for a select few. Teens had limited freedom, not much economic power and little influence in decisions made by the older generation. In the 50's, expectations for teenagers changed. With a booming economy, parents could now help their children achieve more then they themselves had. More parents insisted they finish high school and paid for them to go to college. The parents generation had gone through both a depression and a world war that made them acutely aware of the most important things in their lives; the people they loved most and their happiness. As a result of these new attitudes, youngsters began receiving allowances and had free time after school. They began to have more fun and became less serious then prior generations. The new liberalized culture allowed teenagers to make decisions for themselves and that were often at odds with their parents. Music was one of the first places where these decisions were apparent. Before WWII a teen's exposure to music was limited to radio and an occasional record purchase. The adults decided what music would be allowed in the house. The music of the parents was "white" music, like that of Tin Pan Alley or melting pot black music adapted to white tastes, such as swing or the blues. Juvenile delinquency, at that time, was on the rise and was played up by the media. Befuddled parents thought that eternal damnation was just around the corner, and the new music was a fat target. Yet, as with many things the more the music was attacked the more popular it became. A "generation gap" was formed as teen dress, beliefs, pastimes, social morals, and speech patterns differed from their parent's generation.

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