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Article - 'Brief History - Rock and Roll' by KaBaNa

An item about Miscellanious posted on Jun 27, 2004


KaBaNa takes us into his opinion on how rock and roll evolved over the decades. Fairly well written and with just enough detail, this is a good article for the music newbie.


A Brief History of Rock and Roll
By KaBaNa

Music is a part of all of our lives, but most of us do not take much notice to the origin or evolution of such music. In this article, I will give a brief outline of the evolution of Rock and Roll throughout time. Whether or not this article gets accepted into the GW site is another thing...

What is Rock and Roll?
You may think this is a stupid question, but Rock and Roll is not just music, it is much more. Rock & Roll is culture, the evolution of style, image, making a statement and passion all rolled into one. Rock & Roll is a symbol of raw emotion in society.

Rock bginnings, before the 1950's.
Before Rock & Roll as a genre existed, their was a little genre called Blues. Blues was the result of Black Oppression. The Blues was a statement against unfair treatment, an escape from pain. Blues musicians such as Blind Lemond Jefferson and T-Bone Walker laid out early blueprints for the message that Rock & Roll was all about.

Their music was designed to convey the pain and suffering their people had endured during the slave period. This was pure soul music.

What Rock Derived form this: Rock derived the passion and emotion from this music, it also loosely drew the sometimes complex guitar work that was in this style of music.

First Rock record, the 50's.
This, in my opinion, was the biggest decade in Rock and Roll history. In 1951, the first ever record that was classified as "Rock" was released. It was called Rocket 88 it featured distorted guitar riffs and clear concise beats, the style that Rock & Roll has followed. This was not the only major happening in the world of Rock & Roll in this decade, among other things the following crucial events occured.

- 1952: Little Richards first record was released.
- 1954: Recently deceased Ray
Charles formed a band.
- 1955: A movie entitled Blackboard Jungle is release which features the song Rock Around The Clock.
- 1956: Iconic Rock figure Elvis Presley releases the timeless Heartbreak Hotel.

As can be seen by the above events, the 1950's was a major decade in the development of Rock & Roll.

What Rock Derived form this: Clearly almost all of it! The loud crashing guitar, the ensemble band.. The attitude...

Britain mania! The 60's
Still argued by a lot of my friends as the biggest decade in Rock & Roll due to one fact, The Beatles! Though The Beatles are an essential part of Rock & Rolls history, we should not overlook the other events of the Sixties such as the birth of folk.

The biggest folk pioneer is none other than Bob Dylan, a massive artist who is still popular to this day. What Rock & Roll derived from Folk music was not the sound but the lyrics themselves. Folk lyrics were storytelling or society questioning, made to question society and to share experiences.

Next up came the huge British invasion, namely The Beatles. In 1964, The Beatles came to America and started what could only be described as a frenzy. The Beatles led the way for such bands as The Rolling Stones and The Who. These bands were new and exciting, they used loud crashing guitar and hyperactive drums mixed with simple vocals. At heart, these bands also mixed pop elements into their music something which had not been done yet.

As the sixties drew to a close, artists and bands with a more atmospheric and ear piercing npise emerged. Most notable of them are Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, this is where the term "Make love to your instrument" was born from. These artists focused more on the raw sound of their instruments then lyrical values such as politics and war.

What Rock Derived form this: The arrival of The Beatles, considered by some as the most influential band of all time. Also the arrival of Jimi Hendrix, who was the most complex guitar player ever at that time.

The death decade, the 70's.
The 70's perhaps, was the decade of deaths... This is inadvertently a very important part of Rock and Roll. The death of artists. An act which turn them almost immortal and give them an untouchabe quality. The following major Rock deaths occured in the Seventies.

- 1970: Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.
- 1971: Jim Morrison (The Doors.)

Also, in the 70"s was the birth of Punk. A style of music somewhere between Rock and Roll and the drug fueled lives most Punk Musicians led. Punk was the rawest sounding music yet, it was brash and at times sloppy which allowed less skilled musicians a go at making their own music. Punk was also the most competitive genre so far, with punk bands going at extreme lengths to appear "cooler" and more outrageous than the next band.

Also in the 70's reggae was being more widely accepted, a once little known artist Bob Marley was now a huge success. Reggae's sound was somethig new, s light bridge of Blues, Soul and Funk all rolled into one. It gave artists the idea that mixing genre's could create a fresh unique sound.

What Rock Derived form this: The "do it yourself" attitude that Punk exuded. Also, the mixing of genres that Reggae presented to artists.

Hardcore! The 80's.
Well, the 80's was a rather slow decade indeed. Speaking in relation to Rock and Roll not much happened. In this decade, other genre's which had almost no influence on Rock started emerging such as Rap and over produced pop. In this decade Michael Jackson made the album Thriller which went on to sell over a whopping 40 million! This album combined pop, rock and other genre smaples within it. This was proof that Rock and Roll was now accepted everywhere, it was no longer considered taboo and music of the devil.

The only other notable event of the 80's was the shocking murder of John Lennon. This was a major shake up in musical history, one of the greatest losses ever to music.

What Rock Derived form this: Not much. Mainly the genre mixing and relentless touring.

Grunge and Pop, The 90's
When we think of the 90's, most of us think of who? none other than Kurt Kobain. Without a doubt the most important artist of the 90's. He revolutionised music with a new genre called Grunge, combining fuzzy guitar riffs, self hating lyrics and a low hoarse yell voice Kurt was the voice of a generation. He told parents what teens were thinking, he made it cool to be suicidal, to hate and to despise. Also, the 90's was the decade in which Pop literally exploded. Rock was phased out by squeaky clean voiced little teens singing about their latest crush. Bands like The U2 and Nirvana kept elements of Rock alive with their original music.

What Rock Derived form this: That Rock was no longer taboo at all, people started moving away from it as Pop and Rap started dominating everywhere.

The future, 00's and beyond!
So where does Rock and Roll seem to be heading now? In my opinion it seems that it is being revived by bands like Kings of Leon and The White Stripes. Still, I wish I could have been alive to experience Rock and Roll at its purest... As do most of us.

- KaBaNa.