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A Very Brief History of Rock and Roll

By tjonz76 Aug 09, 2010 1030 Words
Rock and Roll has influenced everyone's life whether we like it or not. It is a style of music that has been around since the early 50's, born out of a combination of Gospel, Blues, Jazz and Country music. In the early days, Rock and Roll was a new form of music that had a very simplistic sound which also introduced the electric guitar for the first time, combined with a drummer and bassist. Since then, it has been drastically changed and evolved into a multitude of different genres including metal, punk and alternative rock. It has influenced many facets of culture including fashion, lifestyle, language and attitudes as well as bringing generations of people together. Rock and Roll has influenced my life from a young age while learning how to play my favorite rock songs on guitar. The history of Rock and Roll is a very interesting evolution and in this paper we will touch on some of the most influencial rock era's in the past 60 years and some of the people who pioneered and perfected the sound.

As World War II ended and the world started the recovery process, American's faced new freedom's and ideals that seemed to re-energize and jump start the country. (Scaruffi, 22) From this newly found freedom, many people pursued new interests in travel, drive-in movie theaters, automobiles, television, fashion and music. One of the most influencial freedom that came about at this time was of course Rock and Roll music. Popular mostly with teenagers at the time, this new form of music gave the youth of America more ways to express themselves and allowed them to break out of the everyday monotony of the American middle class way of life. A very popular form of rock and roll that emerged at this time was called Rockabilly. (Peneny) This version of early rock and roll which combined blues, jazz and country was the cornerstone of music in the 1950's. Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins were among the most important pioneers of this popular music form. Rockabilly singers and songwriters became a major influence on British bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, which led to the British Invasion in the 1960's. As a new decade approached, so did a new form of rock and roll. The 1960's brought a new era of rock and rollers from a distant land. The British had once again stepped foot on American soil to try and show us how things were done. The term “British Invasion” was used to describe the many bands and performers from the U.K. who became popular in America in the early to mid 60's. These British bands, and more specifically The Beatles, took the creations of the American musicians in the 1950's and altered them into a different form of rock and roll. Yet again, teenagers found new freedom and an outlet in this new form of rock and roll. The Beatles being the most popular band at the time had a fan base that reached across the world. The term “Beatlemania” was used to describe the crazed Beatles fans during their early years. As the decade progressed and Beatlemania subsided, bands like The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and The Who began popping up in America. These bands became part of the counterculture movement and were certainly influenced by the times. As the war in Vietnam escalated in the late 60's, rock and roll evolved into a more expressive form of music. (Scaruffi, 52) Folk rock singers like Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin used their music and lyrics to popularize the anti-war movement. (Scaruffi, 102) Drug induced lyrics and psychedelic music became very common. As the 1960's came to a close and the Vietnam War ended, bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath that became popular in the late 60's were even more popular in the 70's. Both of these bands formed a new sound unto their own. Led Zeppelin combined rock with heavy blues while Black Sabbath pioneered the highly amplified heavy metal rock. In the mid 70's we see other influencial bands like The Eagles, Queen and David Bowie who also perfected their own style of rock. But it wasn't until the late 1970's when the world witnessed the biggest movement in rock and roll with Punk. Punk rock was a fast, short stripped down version of rock and roll which often had anti establishment or political lyrics. (Scaruffi, 175) Punk rock was mostly rooted in local bars and pubs which rejected the mainstream idealogies. Subcultures of punk also emerged where rebellion and individual clothing styles were the norm. Bands like The Clash, The Ramones and The Sex Pistols became the pioneers of this punk rock scene and have influenced many other bands and types of rock music. All throughout the 1980's, rock was most famously known for hair bands with tight leather pants, soaring guitar solos and insane hair like Guns and Roses, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue or my favorite, Van Halen. These types of bands turned up their stage presence with theatrics or wearing makeup. They were also characterized by their rowdy behavior on and off stage. These bands were also distinguished by their amazing and sometimes outrageous guitar solo's and their melodic and pop oriented choruses. (Scaruffi, 276) Most of these bands surprisingly have stood the test of time and can still be seen touring today.

I could go on and on explaining the complexity of rock music and all their many genres and bands but I think that would take many days. Although rock may be one of our newer forms of music it is still one of the most significant type to ever exist. So the next time you are listening to your favorite band, remember where the roots of rock and roll came from, because most every band that you hear today wouldn't be around if it weren't for the pioneers of rock and roll.

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