The Info List - Hard Rock

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HARD ROCK is a loosely defined subgenre of rock music that began in the mid-1960s, with the garage , psychedelic and blues rock movements. It is typified by a heavy use of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars , bass guitar , drums , and often accompanied with keyboards .

Hard rock
Hard rock
developed into a major form of popular music in the 1970s, with notable bands such as AC/DC
, the Who , Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
, Queen , Black Sabbath , Deep Purple
Deep Purple
, Aerosmith
, KISS and Van Halen
Van Halen
. During the 1980s, some hard rock bands moved away from their hard rock roots and more towards pop rock , while others began to return to a hard rock sound. Established bands made a comeback in the mid-1980s and it reached a commercial peak in the 1980s, with glam metal bands like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard
Def Leppard
and the rawer sounds of Guns N\' Roses , which followed up with great success in the later part of that decade. Hard rock began losing popularity with the commercial success of R"> Drum notation for a back beat .

Hard rock
Hard rock
is a form of loud, aggressive rock music. The electric guitar is often emphasised, used with distortion and other effects, both as a rhythm instrument using repetitive riffs with a varying degree of complexity, and as a solo lead instrument. Drumming characteristically focuses on driving rhythms, strong bass drum and a backbeat on snare, sometimes using cymbals for emphasis. The bass guitar works in conjunction with the drums, occasionally playing riffs, but usually providing a backing for the rhythm and lead guitars. Vocals
are often growling, raspy, or involve screaming or wailing, sometimes in a high range, or even falsetto voice.

Hard rock
Hard rock
has sometimes been labelled cock rock for its emphasis on overt masculinity and sexuality and because it has historically been predominantly performed and consumed by men: in the case of its audience, particularly white, working-class adolescents.

In the late 1960s, the term heavy metal was used interchangeably with hard rock, but gradually began to be used to describe music played with even more volume and intensity. While hard rock maintained a bluesy rock and roll identity, including some swing in the back beat and riffs that tended to outline chord progressions in their hooks, heavy metal's riffs often functioned as stand-alone melodies and had no swing in them. Heavy metal took on "darker" characteristics after Black Sabbath 's breakthrough at the beginning of the 1970s. In the 1980s it developed a number of subgenres, often termed extreme metal , some of which were influenced by hardcore punk , and which further differentiated the two styles. Despite this differentiation, hard rock and heavy metal have existed side by side, with bands frequently standing on the boundary of, or crossing between, the genres.


The roots of hard rock can be traced back to the 1950s, particularly electric blues , which laid the foundations for key elements such as a rough declamatory vocal style, heavy guitar riffs , string-bending blues-scale guitar solos , strong beat , thick riff-laden texture , and posturing performances. Electric blues guitarists began experimenting with hard rock elements such as driving rhythms, distorted guitar solos and power chords in the 1950s, evident in the work of Memphis blues guitarists such as Joe Hill Louis , Willie Johnson , and particularly Pat Hare , who captured a "grittier, nastier, more ferocious electric guitar sound" on records such as James Cotton 's "Cotton Crop Blues " (1954). Other antecedents include Link Wray
Link Wray
's instrumental "Rumble " in 1958, and the surf rock instrumentals of Dick Dale
Dick Dale
, such as "Let\'s Go Trippin\' " (1961) and " Misirlou " (1962).


Cream , whose blues rock improvisation was a major factor in the development of the genre.

In the 1960s, American and British blues and rock bands began to modify rock and roll by adding harder sounds, heavier guitar riffs, bombastic drumming, and louder vocals, from electric blues . Early forms of hard rock can be heard in the work of Chicago blues musicians Elmore James , Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters
, and Howlin\' Wolf , the Kingsmen 's version of " Louie Louie " (1963) which made it a garage rock standard, and the songs of rhythm and blues influenced British Invasion acts, Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
live at Chicago Stadium , January 1975.

Groups that emerged from the American psychedelic scene about the same time included Iron Butterfly , MC5 , Blue Cheer and Vanilla Fudge . San Francisco band Blue Cheer released a crude and distorted cover of Eddie Cochran 's classic " Summertime Blues ", from their 1968 debut album Vincebus Eruptum , that outlined much of the later hard rock and heavy metal sound. The same month, Steppenwolf released its self-titled debut album , including " Born to Be Wild ", which contained the first lyrical reference to heavy metal and helped popularise the style when it was used in the film Easy Rider
Easy Rider
(1969). Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968), with its 17-minute-long title track , using organs and with a lengthy drum solo, also prefigured later elements of the sound.

By the end of the decade a distinct genre of hard rock was emerging with bands like Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
, who mixed the music of early rock bands with a more hard-edged form of blues rock and acid rock on their first two albums Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
(1969) and Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
II (1969), and Deep Purple , who began as a progressive rock group in 1968 but achieved their commercial breakthrough with their fourth and distinctively heavier album, In Rock (1970). Also significant was Black Sabbath's Paranoid (1970), which combined guitar riffs with dissonance and more explicit references to the occult and elements of Gothic horror . All three of these bands have been seen as pivotal in the development of heavy metal, but where metal further accentuated the intensity of the music, with bands like Judas Priest following Sabbath's lead into territory that was often "darker and more menacing", hard rock tended to continue to remain the more exuberant, good-time music.


The Who on stage in 1975

In the early 1970s the Rolling Stones developed their hard rock sound with Exile on Main St. (1972). Initially receiving mixed reviews, according to critic Steve Erlewine it is now "generally regarded as the Rolling Stones' finest album". They continued to pursue the riff-heavy sound on albums including It\'s Only Rock \'n\' Roll (1974) and Black and Blue (1976). Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
began to mix elements of world and folk music into their hard rock from Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
III (1970) and Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
IV (1971). The latter included the track "Stairway to Heaven ", which would become the most played song in the history of album-oriented radio. Deep Purple
Deep Purple
continued to define hard rock, particularly with their album Machine Head (1972), which included the tracks "Highway Star " and " Smoke on the Water ". In 1975 guitarist Ritchie Blackmore left, going on to form Rainbow and after the break-up of the band the next year, vocalist David Coverdale formed Whitesnake . 1970 saw the Who release Live at Leeds
Live at Leeds
, often seen as the archetypal hard rock live album, and the following year they released their highly acclaimed album Who\'s Next , which mixed heavy rock with extensive use of synthesizers. Subsequent albums, including Quadrophenia (1973), built on this sound before Who Are You (1978), their last album before the death of pioneering rock drummer Keith Moon later that year.

Emerging British acts included Free , who released their signature song " All Right Now " (1970), which has received extensive radio airplay in both the UK and US. After the breakup of the band in 1973, vocalist Paul Rodgers joined supergroup Bad Company , whose eponymous first album (1974) was an international hit. The mixture of hard rock and progressive rock, evident in the works of Deep Purple, was pursued more directly by bands like Uriah Heep and Argent . Scottish band Nazareth released their self-titled début album in 1971, producing a blend of hard rock and pop that would culminate in their best selling, Hair of the Dog (1975), which contained the proto-power ballad "Love Hurts ". Having enjoyed some national success in the early 1970s, Queen , after the release of Sheer Heart Attack (1974) and A Night at the Opera
(1975), gained international recognition with a sound that used layered vocals and guitars and mixed hard rock with heavy metal, progressive rock, and even opera . The latter featured the single " Bohemian Rhapsody ", which stayed at number one in the UK charts for nine weeks. Kiss onstage in Boston in 2004

In the United States, shock-rock pioneer Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper
achieved mainstream success with the top five album School\'s Out (1972), which was followed by the #1 album Billion Dollar Babies in 1973. Also in 1973, blues rockers ZZ Top
ZZ Top
released their classic album Tres Hombres and Aerosmith
produced their eponymous début , as did Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd
and proto-punk outfit New York Dolls
New York Dolls
, demonstrating the diverse directions being pursued in the genre. Montrose , including the instrumental talent of Ronnie Montrose
Ronnie Montrose
and vocals of Sammy Hagar
Sammy Hagar
and arguably the first all American hard rock band to challenge the British dominance of the genre, released their first album in 1973. Former bubblegum-pop family act the Osmonds recorded two hard rock albums in 1972 and had their breakthrough in the UK with the hard-rock hit " Crazy Horses ." Kiss built on the theatrics of Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper
and the look of the New York Dolls
New York Dolls
to produce a unique band persona, achieving their commercial breakthrough with the double live album Alive! in 1975 and helping to take hard rock into the stadium rock era. In the mid-1970s Aerosmith
achieved their commercial and artistic breakthrough with Toys in the Attic (1975), which reached number 11 in the American album chart, and Rocks (1976), which peaked at number three. Blue Öyster Cult , formed in the late 60s, picked up on some of the elements introduced by Black Sabbath with their breakthrough live gold album On Your Feet or on Your Knees (1975), followed by their first platinum album, Agents of Fortune (1976), containing the hit single "(Don\'t Fear) The Reaper ", which reached number 12 on the Billboard charts. Journey released their eponymous debut in 1975 and the next year Boston released their highly successful début album . In the same year, hard rock bands featuring women saw commercial success as Heart released Dreamboat Annie and the Runaways débuted with their self-titled album . While Heart had a more folk-oriented hard rock sound, the Runaways leaned more towards a mix of punk-influenced music and hard rock. The Amboy Dukes , having emerged from the Detroit garage rock scene and most famous for their Top 20 psychedelic hit "Journey to the Center of the Mind" (1968), were dissolved by their guitarist Ted Nugent
Ted Nugent
, who embarked on a solo career that resulted in four successive multi-platinum albums between Ted Nugent
Ted Nugent
(1975) and his best selling Double Live Gonzo!
Double Live Gonzo!
(1978). Rush on stage in Milan
in mid-September 2004

From outside the United Kingdom and the United States, the Canadian trio Rush released three distinctively hard rock albums in 1974–75 (Rush , Fly by Night and Caress of Steel
Caress of Steel
) before moving toward a more progressive sound with the 1976 album 2112 . The Irish band Thin Lizzy , which had formed in the late 1960s, made their most substantial commercial breakthrough in 1976 with the hard rock album Jailbreak and their worldwide hit " The Boys Are Back in Town ", which reached number 8 in the UK and number 12 in the US. Their style, consisting of two duelling guitarists often playing leads in harmony, proved itself to be a large influence on later bands. They reached their commercial, and arguably their artistic peak with Black Rose: A Rock Legend (1979). The arrival of Scorpions from Germany marked the geographical expansion of the subgenre. Australian-formed AC/DC
, with a stripped back, riff heavy and abrasive style that also appealed to the punk generation, began to gain international attention from 1976, culminating in the release of their multi-platinum albums Let There Be Rock (1977) and Highway to Hell
Highway to Hell
(1979). Also influenced by a punk ethos were heavy metal bands like Motörhead , while Judas Priest abandoned the remaining elements of the blues in their music, further differentiating the hard rock and heavy metal styles and helping to create the new wave of British heavy metal which was pursued by bands like Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden
, Saxon and Venom .

With the rise of disco in the US and punk rock in the UK, hard rock's mainstream dominance was rivalled toward the later part of the decade. Disco appealed to a more diverse group of people and punk seemed to take over the rebellious role that hard rock once held. Early punk bands like the Ramones
explicitly rebelled against the drum solos and extended guitar solos that characterised stadium rock, with almost all of their songs clocking in around two minutes with no guitar solos. However, new rock acts continued to emerge and record sales remained high into the 1980s. 1977 saw the début and rise to stardom of Foreigner , who went on to release several platinum albums through to the mid-1980s. Midwestern groups like Kansas , REO Speedwagon and Styx helped further cement heavy rock in the Midwest as a form of stadium rock. In 1978, Van Halen
Van Halen
emerged from the Los Angeles music scene with a sound based around the skills of lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen . He popularised a guitar-playing technique of two-handed hammer-ons and pull-offs called tapping , showcased on the song "Eruption " from the album Van Halen
Van Halen
, which was highly influential in re-establishing hard rock as a popular genre after the punk and disco explosion, while also redefining and elevating the role of electric guitar.


Main article: Glam metal

The opening years of the 1980s saw a number of changes in personnel and direction of established hard rock acts, including the deaths of Bon Scott , the lead singer of AC/DC, and John Bonham , drummer with Led Zeppelin. Whereas Zeppelin broke up almost immediately afterwards, AC/DC
pressed on, recording the album Back in Black (1980) with their new lead singer, Brian Johnson
Brian Johnson
. It became the fifth-highest-selling album of all time in the US and the second-highest-selling album in the world. Black Sabbath had split with original singer Ozzy Osbourne in 1979 and replaced him with Ronnie James Dio , formerly of Rainbow, giving the band a new sound and a period of creativity and popularity beginning with Heaven and Hell (1980). Osbourne embarked on a solo career with Blizzard of Ozz (1980), featuring American guitarist Randy Rhoads . Some bands, such as Queen , moved away from their hard rock roots and more towards pop rock , while others, including Rush with Moving Pictures (1981), began to return to a hard rock sound. The creation of thrash metal , which mixed heavy metal with elements of hardcore punk from about 1982, particularly by Metallica
, Anthrax , Megadeth
and Slayer
, helped to create extreme metal and further remove the style from hard rock, although a number of these bands or their members would continue to record some songs closer to a hard rock sound. Kiss moved away from their hard rock roots toward pop metal: firstly removing their makeup in 1983 for their Lick It Up album, and then adopting the visual and sound of glam metal for their 1984 release, Animalize
, both of which marked a return to commercial success. Pat Benatar was one of the first women to achieve commercial success in hard rock, with three successive Top 5 albums between 1980 and 1982.

Often categorised with the new wave of British heavy metal, in 1981 Def Leppard
Def Leppard
released their second album High \'n\' Dry , mixing glam-rock with heavy metal, and helping to define the sound of hard rock for the decade. The follow-up Pyromania (1983), reached number two on the American charts and the singles "Photograph ", "Rock of Ages " and "Foolin\' ", helped by the emergence of MTV
, all reached the Top 40 . It was widely emulated, particularly by the emerging Californian glam metal scene. This was followed by US acts like Mötley Crüe
Mötley Crüe
, with their albums Too Fast for Love (1981) and Shout at the Devil (1983) and, as the style grew, the arrival of bands such as Ratt , White Lion
White Lion
, Twisted Sister
Twisted Sister
and Quiet Riot
Quiet Riot
. Quiet Riot's album Metal Health
Metal Health
(1983) was the first glam metal album, and arguably the first heavy metal album of any kind, to reach number one in the Billboard music charts and helped open the doors for mainstream success by subsequent bands. Poison seen here in 2008, were among the most successful acts of the 1980s glam metal era.

Established bands made something of a comeback in the mid-1980s. After an 8-year separation, Deep Purple
Deep Purple
returned with the classic Machine Head line-up to produce Perfect Strangers (1984), which reached number five in the UK, hit the top five in five other countries, and was a platinum-seller in the US. After somewhat slower sales of its fourth album, Fair Warning , Van Halen
Van Halen
rebounded with the Top 3 album Diver Down in 1982, then reached their commercial pinnacle with 1984 . It reached number two on the Billboard album chart and provided the track "Jump ", which reached number one on the singles chart and remained there for several weeks. Heart , after floundering during the first half of the decade, made a comeback with their eponymous ninth studio album which hit number one and contained four Top 10 singles including their first number one hit. The new medium of video channels was used with considerable success by bands formed in previous decades. Among the first were ZZ Top, who mixed hard blues rock with new wave music to produce a series of highly successful singles, beginning with "Gimme All Your Lovin\' " (1983), which helped their albums Eliminator (1983) and Afterburner (1985) achieve diamond and multi-platinum status respectively. Others found renewed success in the singles charts with power ballads, including REO Speedwagon with "Keep on Loving You " (1980) and "Can\'t Fight This Feeling " (1984), Journey with "Don\'t Stop Believin\' " (1981) and "Open Arms " (1982), Foreigner 's " I Want to Know What Love Is ", Scorpions ' " Still Loving You " (both from 1984), Heart’s " What About Love
What About Love
" (1985) and " These Dreams " (1986), and Boston 's "Amanda " (1986).

Bon Jovi 's third album, Slippery When Wet (1986), mixed hard rock with a pop sensitivity and spent a total of 8 weeks at the top of the Billboard 200
Billboard 200
album chart, selling 12 million copies in the US while becoming the first hard rock album to spawn three top 10 singles — two of which reached number one. The album has been credited with widening the audiences for the genre, particularly by appealing to women as well as the traditional male dominated audience, and opening the door to MTV
and commercial success for other bands at the end of the decade. The anthemic The Final Countdown (1986) by Swedish group Europe was an international hit, reaching number eight on the US charts while hitting the top 10 in nine other countries. This era also saw more glam-infused American hard rock bands come to the forefront, with both Poison and Cinderella releasing their multi-platinum début albums in 1986. Van Halen
Van Halen
released 5150 (1986), their first album with Sammy Hagar
Sammy Hagar
on lead vocals, which was number one in the US for three weeks and sold over 6 million copies. By the second half of the decade, hard rock had become the most reliable form of commercial popular music in the United States. Original member Izzy Stradlin' on stage with Guns N\' Roses in 2006.

Established acts benefited from the new commercial climate, with Whitesnake 's self-titled album (1987) selling over 17 million copies, outperforming anything in Coverdale's or Deep Purple's catalogue before or since. It featured the rock anthem " Here I Go Again '87" as one of 4 UK top 20 singles. The follow-up Slip of the Tongue (1989) went platinum, but according to critics Steve Erlwine and Greg Prato, "it was a considerable disappointment after the across-the-board success of Whitesnake". Aerosmith's comeback album Permanent Vacation (1987) would begin a decade long revival of their popularity. Crazy Nights (1987) by Kiss was the band's highest charting release in the US since 1979 and the highest of their career in the UK. Mötley Crüe with Girls, Girls, Girls (1987) continued their commercial success and Def Leppard
Def Leppard
with Hysteria (1987) hit their commercial peak, the latter producing seven hit singles (a record for a hard rock act). Guns N\' Roses released the best-selling début of all time, Appetite for Destruction (1987). With a "grittier" and "rawer" sound than most glam metal, it produced three top 10 hits, including the number one "Sweet Child O\' Mine ".

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