Rock and Roll. Someone mentions it and you instantly have an image in your head. Whether it be the title quoted AC/DC or the King Elvis Presley, there is a form of rock for everyone. Rock has made huge changes over the past several decades, always being whatever the musician wanted it to be. Some hade described rock as a way of life; a movement. Some have said it is a phase. Still others see it as an icon and culture an the same time. While rock is not a phase, it does go through phases. It is a way of life, a culture and a way of thinking. It will never die.
Early History of Rock
The history of rock and roll begins with the slaves during and post the Civil War era. The slaves in their camps singing the blues with its simple chords and melodies was the first breath of life in the mass movement called rock. African-American slaves are credited with the invention of the banjo, a five-stringed instrument with a very unique plucking sound, which was their first musical tool other than their voices. African-Americans used singing the blues as an escape path; although pain, suffering, and disappointments were the topics of the blues, the reason for singing them was for a temporary relief of the pains and struggles of their oppressed lives. (Townsend, 1997)
Later on into the 1800’s, when slavery had long been abolished, African-Americans were still greatly oppressed by the Whites; they were nowhere near as wealthy nor did they hold any kind of political or social power. Despite of all of this, their music began to catch on. The Whites started to fall in love with this soul-inspired music, and because of their wealth and popularity, they took blues to a whole new level. The culmination of White and African-American culture in the late 1800’s was the solid “birth” of Rock and Roll. Although this event is marked by some as the birth of rock and roll (rock), it laid dormant for many hears until around the 1950’s, which is, for the purpose of this paper, the true start of rock. (Townsend, 1997) The Radio; a gateway for rock
The invention of the radio in the early 1900’s and its beginning widespread use in the 1920’s served as a gateway for rock to begin really growing. Before the invention of the radio, there was no widespread way for people to listen to rock, other than going to see a band play live or listening to a friends recording. Radio provided a way for people to listen to music before purchasing it; something that no one would dream of doing in today’s world. (Townsend, 1997) WW2; Rock’s catapult
In the 1950’s, the adult generation was not particularly fond of loud and fast music; they had gone through WW2 and it was “all the excitement they could handle” (Townsend, 1997, p. 9). This generation returned from the war and started producing children at an alarming rate, known to us as the “Baby Boom” and the children coming to be known as the “Baby Boomers.” These baby boomers were the generation that grabbed a hold on rock. They had been during or immediately after the war, so felt none of the reservations that their parents had. As described by Townsend (1997, p. 9) “If we begin to understand that perspective, then we can find some insight into how rock 'n' roll did appeal to the post-War generation. By 1954, anyone who was a teenager was personally unacquainted with World War II; even a 19 year-old had only been ten when it ended, and the younger teens had been infants while the War raged. By the mid-1950s, the Baby Boom was starting to grow up, and to listen to rock 'n' roll. This vast new chunk of humanity between our shores could not possibly share the feelings and memories of their parents, could not know what the War had meant, and how profoundly it had influenced the older generations. They could not, in truth, share their parents' complacency with the post-War world, peaceful and prosperous and unthreatening as it was in contrast to...