All Shook Up: How Rock ‘N’ Roll Changed America by Glenn C. Altschuler states that rock ‘n’ roll music influenced post American culture through race, sexuality and generational conflict. In order for blacks to profit during the rock ‘n’ roll era performers and promoters “bleached the music, and promoted white rock ‘n’ rollers” (p 35). American culture was sexualized by rock ‘n’ roll music and it influenced men and women’s values. Americans were also convinced that rock ‘n’ roll music reinforced “antagonism to authority and expectations;” and “conformity to peer-group norms” in teenagers (p 99). American culture is defined by rock ‘n’ roll music and race, sexuality and generational conflict was a major factor in culture definition.
Rock and roll’s complex relationship to race might best be illustrated by the ways black performers “bleached” their music in order to get heard by America. Altschuler uses the term “bleaching” to describe how music was made white to be heard by white audiences and sold to white audiences. Bleaching included “selling the rights to their music or by earning royalties from record sales” to white performers (p 51). White artists would make changes to black musicians’ music and make it into number 1 hits. An example, of this is Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton who first recorded “Hound Dog” (p 52). According to Altschuler, Elvis Presley made some changes to the tempo and lyrics “and his version made it to number 1 on the country and R&B charts” (p52). Often independent labels would take black artists’ songs and put white pop singers on the covers or have them sing the songs. For example, Dot Records, owned by Rand Wood, had Pat Boone record “Ain’t That a Shame,” Fats Domino’s hit (p 52). Dot Records bleached “I Hear You Knockin’” an R&B song, first recorded by Smiley Lewis and Dave Bartholomew, by using Gale Storm. The bleached song made it to number 2 on the music charts (p 52). In East St. Louis, Chuck Berry performed at...
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