History Of Rock And Roll Essay, Research Paper
Rock and Roll started after the year 1955 with its roots being in Blues, Gospel,
and Jazz. This influenced vocal music, which was popular with the African American
population. Hep Harmony which added rhythm and harmony was sung by groups such as
The “Mills Brothers” and the “Ink Spots”.
Small Swing Bands or Jump Bands featured saxophone soloists and repeated
phrases. These city style blues featured singers such as Joe Turner, Dina Washington, T-
Bone Walker, and composer-singer Percy Mayfield.
During this era, country blues traditions of the south became influential in the
North as well. Blacks moved from the South to the North and Chicago became the center
of blues recordings. This emphasized electric guitars, harmonicas, and drummers who
emphasized after beats (beats 2 and 4 of the measure). Black gospel music was very
popular and given the label of rhythm and blues (R&B). This music was carried on radio
and popular with the disc jockeys.
In the mid 50’s, Chuck Berry and Little Richard were popular and changed the
face of music, which was named rock and roll by the D.J.’s.
At age 21, in 1956, Elvis Presley was introduced to the public with his rockabilly
style of music. His first record, “Heartbreak Hotel” was recorded. It was the first of a
consecutive 14 records to sell over one million copies.
He inspired other country singers to sing rock and roll. This started a trend for
“cover” recordings. This was when white singers simplified versions of Black recorded
songs. White singers were played on more radio stations and became very popular.
Young listeners became their largest audience. Young singers were hired to record
songs featuring adolescent issues. “Young Love”, “16 Candles”, and “Teenage
Crush”. Such singers as Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis became
famous and popular.
Love ballads also became more popular, with the musical audience looking for
sentimental and honest expression. This turned some of the more popular music from
rock to folk ballads. Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Peter, Paul, and Mary were the more
popular folk singers.
During this period, the Beatles became the most popular band of the 1960’s.
In the 1950’s, the Beatles were also known as Johnny and the Moondogs and then the
Moonshiners. They first became known as the Silver Beatles. They brought about the
renewal of rock and roll, starting in Liverpool, England. John Lennon (10/9/40-12/8/80),
led the Beatles as the lead singer and songwriter. Also writing the songs for the Beatles
was Paul McCartney (6/18/42-present). George Harrison (2/25/43-present) added to the
sounds of the Beatles. In 1962, Ringo Starr (7/7/40-present) became the drummer for the
band. They were now known as The Beatles, (the Fab Four).
Their first song “Love Me Do” was recorded in 1962, after Ringo joined the band.
In 1964, the Beatles ‘invaded’ the United States, by bringing their music here and driving
the crowds wild. The Beatles bridged the generation gap and language barriers. They
were trend setters, with their style of dress and hair changing the face of the young
people. They also influenced the use of hallucinogenic drugs, Indian music, and Eastern
The Beatles last concert was in San Francisco in 1966. The band broke up in
1970. Lennon went on to record solo albums and with his wife, Yoko Ono. McCartney
went on to form Paul McCartney and Wings, with his wife, Linda. Harrison and Starr
also went on to do solo albums. Ringo also starred in some films. Rumors of a reunion
were believed until the murder of John Lennon in 1980.
Some of the groups influenced by the Beatles were The Who, Cream with Eric
Clapton, and Chicago Blues. They brought out sounds such as loud music, guitar
screeches, and on stage smashing of instruments. During this time, rock operas and rock
musicals became popular, such as Tommy, The Who and Hair.
Formed in 1962 the Rolling Stones started becoming popular. In 1964, The
Rolling Stones were first known as Muddy Waters. They had wild stage antics and brutal
lyrics. The group consisted of 5 members from London. Mick Jagger led the group as
the lead singer. Keith Richards on guitar, Brian Jones (replaced in 1969 by Mick Taylor).
Mick Taylor was replaced in 1976 by Ron Wood (from Rod Stewart’s band). Bassist Bill
Wyman and drummer, Charlie Watts made up the rest of the Stones. By the late 60’s they
called themselves the world’s greatest rock band.
The Stones were number one on both sides of the Atlantic, with their hit
“Satisfaction” in 1965. The Stones put out more than 35 albums. Many of their lyrics
covered taboo subjects ( for their time), such as sex and drugs. In the 1980’s, thier image
mellowed and they went on to other endeavors. In 1985, Jagger recorded a solo album,
“She’s The Boss”. Following this album, he did a hit remake with David Bowie of
“Dancing in the Streets”. The Stones reunited in 1989, for a 4 month, 40 city tour, which
was seen by over 3 million people. They rolled in over 70 million dollars from ticket and
Motown became popular during the late 60’s with the emergence of female singers
such as Diana Ross and the Supremes. Other Motown singers such as the Temptations
used dance and music together to enhance their popularity. Stevie Wonder was also
another Motown great. This started the trend of soul music.
During the 1960’s hippies, drugs (LSD and Acid), and protests filled the air of this
time. Groups such as The Mamas and The Papas, Country Joe and the Fish, Jefferson
Airplane, and the Greatful Dead were influenced by these trends.
The Woodstock Festival that took place in August 1969, showed that by this time
that music was an important element in the life of America’s youth. This brought about a
whole different look at the music industry.
This decade saw the division of rock into subdivisions beyond the general
categories of hard rock (extremely loud and electrically amplified) and mellow rock
(softer, and with acoustic instruments). Rock blended with reggae, which emerged from
Jamaica around 1972, and is a mix of rock, soul, calypso, and other Latin rhythms.
Other styles emerging in the 70’s were punk rock, bubble gum music, and heavy
metal rock which continued the hallucinogenic approach of acid rock, but using loud
volume, electronic distortion, and vulgar stage antics. Some bands expressing these
feelings were Kiss, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin.
Led Zeppelin, who is a British rock group was most popular during 1970s.
The members were: lead singer Robert Plant (born 1948), guitarist Jimmy Page (born
1944), bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones (born 1946), and drummer John Bonham
(1948-80). Led Zeppelin was founded in1968 by Jimmy Page. They released their first
album, Led Zeppelin, in 1968. Other popular albums included Led Zeppelin II (1969), III
(1970), and IV (1971), Houses of the Holy (1971), The Song Remains the Same (1976),
and In Through the Out Door (1976). Their most famous song was `Stairway to Heaven’
(1971). With the death of Bonham in 1980, the band was at a great loss, and band
members (Plant and Page) went on to solo careers. The reunion of the remaining band
members was in 1985, for a Live Aid benefit concert in Philadelphia. Another reunion
took place in 1988 for Atlantic Records’ 40th anniversary celebration (John Bonham’s son,
Jason, played the drums).
There were many other bands not mentioned in this report that influenced music in
the 60’s, 70’s, and the 80’s. Some of these bands include Pink Floyd, The Doors, Eagles,
Genesis, CSNY (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young), The Monkees, Jimi Hendrix, Janis
Joplin, Chicago, Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne, Michael Jackson, and many others.
Rock and Roll has been an important part of young peoples lives for decades and
decades to come. Music is a way of expression for some and a way of relaxing for