The History of Rock and Roll

Powerful Essays
Rock and roll has developed a long way throughout the years from a dance craze in the 1950’s to a political and cultural landscape that is recognized worldwide. Rock and roll has come to define the roots of teenage rebellion, people who don’t follow the norms, and have disrespect for authority. The style of rock and roll itself is a melting pot of music, a combination of sounds that include jazz, country, blues, ragtime, gospel, swing, classical, and ethnic music. It can be a simple variation of three chords to a complex chromatic scale combination. It can convey emotions such as love, hate, fear, lust, sadness, joy, disillusion, or a strong sense of reality. Many things can be said about rock but the fact is that it is the most widely diverse of all music genres.

The earliest roots of rock and roll can be seen in jazz and blues music. Jazz was most often played with big bands but smaller combinations of bands started to evolve late in the music era that included guitar, stand-up bass, piano, drums, and a horn section. These bands soon created a jazz and blues hybrid sound. One of the first musicians to combine jazz and blues was Louis Jordan who originated the “jump blues”, an up-tempo, hard driving, blues-based dance music (Kallen, 2012, 14). Jordan’s jump blues inspired many musicians including Wynonie Harris, an R&B singer that is credited with pioneering rock in roll in 1947.

Shortly after jump blues bands started playing their music it evolved into something closer to rock. Bill Haley officially made the new genre “rock” music when his song “(Were Gonna) Rock Around the Clock” appeared in the movie Blackboard Jungle in 1955, breaking rock into the mainstream (Kallen, 2012, 14). Although Haley is credited for bringing rock to mainstream, other black artists such as B.B. King, Little Milton, Howling Wolf, and Ike Turner were the true pioneers of the rock music style but were not as popular because of their race. After the success of Haley, a Memphis studio owner, Sam Phillips was desperately looking for a rock artist that could become mainstream, Sam had previously recorded for other talented black artists but their music wasn’t getting as much attention because of racial prejudice. Phillips’ dream of promoting a rock musician became true when a young man named Elvis Presley recorded a demo in his studio in 1954 (Kallen, 2012, 18). Short...

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...Korn was a heavy band that wrote songs about the disillusion of childhood innocence, abuse, drugs, the underground life and lust. Korn is still making influential records to this day, constantly pushing the boundaries of rock.

Modern rock today is so varied in styles from death metal to retro rock. Whether or not rock recycles its genres will be told by time. One thing can be said though; rock is a constantly changing music that has so many different and unique messages to convey to people around the entire world. Hopefully, rock and roll will never die.

Works Cited

Kallen, Stuart A. The History of Rock and Roll. Farmington Hills, MI: Lucent Books, 2012.

DeCurtis, Anthony, James Henke, and Holly George-Warren. Rolling Stone Album Guide: The Companion to 25 Years of Essential Rock. New York, NY: Random House, 1992.

Lanham, Tom. “Voodoo Trial.” Guitar One June 2003: 94-103.

Cherry, Robert. “Head Banger’s Ball.” Guitar One Nov. 2003: 94-120.

Cherry, Robert. “Architects of Grunge.” Guitar One May 2004: 85-103.

Pareles, Jon. "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Welcomes Its Newest Members." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
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