phonographs soon found their way to young people's rooms. Comets (originally a country band called the Saddlemen) and soloists When Alan Freed, a disc jockey, heard the song “My Baby Rocks me with a Steady Roll”, he developed the phrase rock and roll, which refers to one of the most popular and influential genre of music in the 1950s. radio stations played music that would appeal to the entire family. excitement. But what about the rest of the Fifties rock front-runners? But Haley wasn’t exactly teen-idol material. The Blues, to review what you have already learned in the Jazz like Elvis Presley brought a It was Phillips who expressed most clearly, through his recording policies and his public utterances, the vision of rock & roll as a dream of equality and freedom. Sign up for our newsletter. Send us a tip using our anonymous form. Stereo had not yet been (in the foolish belief, soon to be proved wrong, that white kids wouldn't Turner, Bill Haley and His He, of course is absolutely right, and a number of We asked our friends, maybe an older brother or sister. and Roll to become immensely popular with teenagers, who then, Alan Freed’s fall from grace ended at the bottom, with his death as an alcoholic recluse. Not surprisingly, young people were tired of the music their parents the workers in the fields, who fooled the plantation owners into thinking Chuck Berry was busted and spent time in jail. We were believers before we knew what it was that had so spectacularly ripped the dull, familiar fabric of our lives. Most of the major labels, as well as the established music publishers that had been the industry’s backbone for more than a century, reacted slowly to the rock & roll onslaught, and most were definitely not amused by it. Mae Thornton, Joe Turner and never heard before. hard to believe, but there was once a time when there was no rock music. When Billy Haleys “Rock around the clock” came out in 1955, it was considered the first rock and roll song. said that "Rhythm and Blues had a baby and somebody named it rock and easily damaged. Second, rock & roll enabled “marginal” Americans — poor white sharecroppers, black ghetto youths and, not coincidentally, storefront record-label operators in out-of-the-way places like Memphis — the opportunity to express themselves freely, not as purveyors of R&B and C&W, whose audiences were limited, but as a dominant force in the popular marketplace. The payola hearings managed to pillory Alan Freed, who had always played original black recordings rather than the bland white “cover” versions being offered by squeaky-clean opportunists like Pat Boone. teenager and kept in his or her room. In the These qualities, along with the fact that it horrified phonographs and the other for young people, who bought mostly 45's and Rock & roll proved an all-American, multi-ethnic hybrid, its sources and developing substyles too various to be explained away by “blues plus country” or any other reductionist formula. For Phillips, rock & roll’s real significance was twofold. the new technology was that more musical information could be put on a These records played at 78 rpm's Classic rock and roll is... - Use of electric guitars - Strong rhythm - Youth oriented lyrics that often refer to sexual intercourse Rock and roll evolved in the United States in the early 1950s and quickly spread to the rest of the world. Suddenly, it seemed, the sky was the limit, if there was a limit at all. Electric guitars could play music louder and recording studios used the latest technology to improve the sound on radios and record players everywhere. Three very known rock and roll artists of the 1950s are… Chuck Berry : He was one of the first black rock and roll performers to appeal all colors by combining his rhythm and blues sound with rock and roll. radios became much smaller and much less expensive, and like the small Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Immediately, the new musical style became most appealing to teenagers in the 1950s because it gave them their own special identity and voice. This music, was of course, familiar to the black population in America, - Youth oriented lyrics that often refer to sexual intercourse. The white record companies started looking for white acts In This Article: released that a major shift in listening patterns was about to occur, and Want more Rolling Stone? Create your own unique website with customizable templates. “Rock & roll is nothing but rhythm & blues,” he responded with characteristic candor, “and we’ve been playing it for years down in New Orleans.” This is a valid statement: All Fifties rockers, black and white, country born and city bred, were fundamentally influenced by R&B, the black popular music of the late Forties and early Fifties. hard working slaves.". Another reason rock and roll spread so quickly was because of the advancement in technology. Certainly, mainstream popular music had never seen a performer whose vocal delivery, stage moves and seamless integration of influences as diverse as down-home blues, white Pentecostalism and hit-parade crooning remotely resembled Elvis Presley’s. On top of all this came a series of mishaps in the careers of some of rock’s leading lights. It is a measure of Fifties rock’s genuine revolutionary potential (as opposed to the revolution-as-corporate-marketing ploy so characteristic of the Sixties) that while Sixties rock eventually calmed down, was co-opted or snuffed itself out in heedless excess, Fifties rock & roll was stopped. (Louis Jordan, the early idol of both Berry and Bill Haley, came closest, but his jump ‘n’ jive story songs were aimed as much at adults as teens, and any hillbilly flavor in his records was strictly a comedic device.) late 1940's and early 1950's, phonograph records were large and heavy and buy records by black performers) that played something resembling R&B. players that were usually part of a large piece of furniture (console), which often was located in the living room. and Blues and Country, as and Roll were Willie Where you think rock & roll came from and how you think it grew depend on how you define rock & roll. In record-business terms, rock & roll meant that small, formerly specialized labels like Sun, Chess and Specialty were invading the upper reaches of the pop charts, long the exclusive domain of the major corporate record labels and old-line Tin Pan Alley music-publishing interests. called singles. The producer Milt Gabler, who applied what he learned producing Louis Jordan’s Forties jump-blues novelties to Bill Haley’s breakthrough hits. the beginning of Rock and Roll. African-Americans in the South. But it was another drummer and Little Richard associate, the Upsetters’ Charles Connor, who first put the funk in the rhythm, as even. Meanwhile, many blacks growing up in isolated pockets of the rural South listened to and were influenced by the country music on radio programs like the Grand Ole Opry, from Nashville. The medium that spread this underground teen culture was rock & roll. Viewed with hindsight, the whole affair turns out to have been the cultural vanguard of a movement toward racial, social and sexual equality that was then only beginning to assume an explicitly political form. Sam Phillips was as significant for his ingenious engineering, his feel for echo and ambience, as for his talent spotting and genre mixing. and Country became Rock and Roll. Also his guitar playing and energetic dancing gave him a sexual appeal that attracted both black and white teen audiences. The best of Fifties rock & roll may have promised a utopia that was not to be, but as long as the music survives, the dream will live on. The 45's were much smaller in size and Little Richard: He is known for his wild performances, rebellious music and his over the top appearance. Thirty-five-odd years after rock & roll first burst upon us in all its glory, we still don’t have a simple, definitive answer to these questions. beginning to become standard equipment in cars. Alan Freed, the white R&B disc jockey whose move from Cleveland to a top-rated New York station in 1954 was as crucial to the emergence of rock & roll as the timely appearance of the Pelvis, came up with the name. their cars. Mae Thornton, Big Joe © 2020, Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy, The Ohio State University and response' was often used as a means of communication by When Billy Haleys “Rock around the clock” came out in … With the flowering of the postwar baby boom, teenagers, especially white teenagers with money in their pockets, represented a potentially enormous and largely untapped consumer group. This meant that unit, "grew out of African spirituals and work songs sung by homogeneous audience, now was divided into segments with different popular because more music could be put on a 33 than several 78's and it Rock & roll proved an all-American, multi-ethnic hybrid, its sources and developing substyles too various to be explained away by “blues plus country” or … the living room listening to bands like Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey and labored in difficult situations on the Southern plantations. The army and Colonel Parker conspired to make Elvis safe. Rhythm and Blues developed from the Blues, The coming of rock & roll in the mid-Fifties was not merely a musical revolution but a social and generational upheaval of vast and unpredicatable scope. It’s no mere accident of history that Rosa Parks’s refusal to move to the back of a segregated Alabama bus, the germinal act of what became the civil-rights movement, occurred during the brief pop-music ascendancy of performers like Chuck Berry and Little Richard, black men whose every sound and sign communicated their refusal to respond to the racist’s traditional “C’mere, boy!”. strong country background to the music, and this combination of R&B Richard, one of the great innovators in 1950's rock music, has often record, and it was of higher technical quality. This all meant that some radio stations played music for Rock and roll evolved in the United States in the early 1950s and quickly spread to the rest of the world. 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Dave Bartholomew, the New Orleans trumpeter, bandleader, songwriter and record producer, whose musicians powered most of the hits by Fats Domino and Little Richard. and Los Angeles began to turn to the stations that played music they had type of music, then called Rock and Roll, If we had any initial doubt about that, our parents’ horrified — or at best dismissive — reactions banished those doubts. Rock and roll is not only just a musical style but it has also influenced lifestyles, fashion, attitudes and languages.
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