A music genre does not simply manifest out of nowhere. It comes from an entire process of progression that evolves through time from innovative performances, critics review, publication or recording that allow listeners to perceive its unique qualities and apply a genre.
And that’s how Rock and Roll came about…
However, its history is still a bit of a question mark until today. Many sources claim different origins of this timeless music genre and it’s hard to tell which one’s the most accurate.
Rock and roll is a crossover of rhythm and blues music mostly performed by African-American artists for African-American audiences and repurposed by white artists for mostly white audiences. Until 1951, that the music industry finally understood that there was a market for white people for black music and that capitalism can’t do anything with it.
Alan Freed catalyzed this movement when he wittingly coined the term, rock ‘n’ roll. Freed was a radio jock at a Cleveland, Ohio radio station. Although the term has already been used loosely in the 1940’s, he was the one who used it to pertain to a music genre.
Many white Americans enjoyed rhythm and blues (R & B) but it was only being played on certain music outlets and were hardly heard in the mainstream. Freed was able to play R&B music on his radio station by calling it rock ‘n’ roll. And so it was popularized.
A notable artist come to mind when talking about rock ‘n’ roll— Elvis Presley’s music had been successful as it was able to resonate amongst people from different classes of buyers. A Memphis paper even said once that “He has a white voice, sings with a Negro rhythm, which borrows in mood and emphasis from country styles.” Elvis often sang music composed by obscure African-American men.
Elvis was a rockstar both on stage and on TV, and while he embodied pop rock ‘n’ roll, the minority and some majority group has started to use the genre to epitomized youth’s rebellion as a soundtrack of their dreams of anti-conformism, war, civil rights, and important civil issues of the time.
But beyond various political movements that may seem to have pushed rock ‘n’ roll to the surface, it rose as one of the most influential, fastest developing, more often a 4-piece quartet music genre in America.
From the poetic lyrics of Bob Dylan to the evolution of surf music in America, to the pivotal rock invasion in the 60’s right in the heart of Britain— London—where bands like Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, the Animals and The Beatles became a sensation.
The Yardbirds were the most influential to great rock ‘n’ roll names such as Jimi Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin. While The Beatles took achieved a worldwide success, Led Zeppelin started to change the face of rock again.
This second generation rock’s stars are The Kinks and The Who who both went on record concept albums. The impact of British ingénue in their version of rock ‘n’ roll have shattered bounds of what rock symbolized in America and pretty soon, it was the war cry of every kid in their garage, playing rock music to express themselves.
Names like the Doors, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Simon and Garfunkel, Jimi Hendrix, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Janis Joplin came from different sub-genre of rock but were able to electrify the world with their experimental genius.
Rock ‘n’ roll, an ever-evolving music, went on until the 70’s to influence more geniuses which gave birth to countless other genres such as country-rock, reggae, funky, heavy metal, hard rock, etc. and the world has never been the same again.