The Info List - Rock And Roll

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ROCK AND ROLL (often written as ROCK "> Sign commemorating the role of Alan Freed and Cleveland , Ohio in the origins of rock and roll

The term "rock and roll" now has at least two different meanings, both in common usage. The _ American Heritage Dictionary _ and the _ Merriam-Webster Dictionary _ both define rock and roll as synonymous with rock music . _ Encyclopædia Britannica _, on the other hand, regards it as the music that originated in the mid-1950s and later developed "into the more encompassing international style known as rock music".

The phrase "rocking and rolling" originally described the movement of a ship on the ocean, but was used by the early twentieth century, both to describe the spiritual fervor of black church rituals and as a sexual analogy. Various gospel, blues and swing recordings used the phrase before it became used more frequently – but still intermittently – in the 1940s, on recordings and in reviews of what became known as "rhythm and blues" music aimed at a black audience.

In 1934, the song "Rock and Roll" by the Boswell Sisters appeared in the film _ Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round _. In 1942, _Billboard _ magazine columnist Maurie Orodenker started to use the term "rock-and-roll" to describe upbeat recordings such as "Rock Me" by Sister Rosetta Tharpe . By 1943, the "Rock and Roll Inn" in South Merchantville, New Jersey , was established as a music venue. In 1951, Cleveland , Ohio disc jockey Alan Freed began playing this music style while popularizing the phrase to describe it.



Main article: Origins of rock and roll

The origins of rock and roll have been fiercely debated by commentators and historians of music. There is general agreement that it arose in the Southern United States – a region which would produce most of the major early rock and roll acts – through the meeting of various influences that embodied a merging of the African musical tradition with European instrumentation. The migration of many former slaves and their descendants to major urban centers such as St. Louis , Memphis , New York City , Detroit , Chicago , Cleveland , and Buffalo (See: Second Great Migration (African American) ) meant that black and white residents were living in close proximity in larger numbers than ever before, and as a result heard each other's music and even began to emulate each other's fashions. Radio stations that made white and black forms of music available to both groups, the development and spread of the gramophone record , and African American musical styles such as jazz and swing which were taken up by white musicians, aided this process of "cultural collision". Chuck Berry in 1957

The immediate roots of rock and roll lay in the rhythm and blues , then called "race music ", and country music of the 1940s and 1950s. Particularly significant influences were jazz, blues , gospel , country, and folk . Commentators differ in their views of which of these forms were most important and the degree to which the new music was a re-branding of African American rhythm and blues for a white market, or a new hybrid of black and white forms.

In the 1930s, jazz , and particularly swing , both in urban-based dance bands and blues-influenced country swing, were among the first music to present African American sounds for a predominantly white audience. One particularly noteworthy example of a jazz song with recognizably rock and roll elements is Big Joe Turner with pianist Pete Johnson 's 1939 single _Roll \'Em Pete _, which is regarded as an important precursor of rock and roll. The 1940s saw the increased use of blaring horns (including saxophones), shouted lyrics and boogie woogie beats in jazz-based music. During and immediately after World War II , with shortages of fuel and limitations on audiences and available personnel, large jazz bands were less economical and tended to be replaced by smaller combos, using guitars, bass and drums. In the same period, particularly on the West Coast and in the Midwest , the development of jump blues , with its guitar riffs, prominent beats and shouted lyrics, prefigured many later developments. In the documentary film _Hail! Hail! Rock \'n\' Roll _, Keith Richards proposes that Chuck Berry developed his brand of rock and roll, by transposing the familiar two-note lead line of jump blues piano directly to the electric guitar, creating what is instantly recognizable as rock guitar. Similarly, country boogie and Chicago electric blues supplied many of the elements that would be seen as characteristic of rock and roll. Inspired by electric blues , Chuck Berry introduced an aggressive guitar sound to rock and roll, and established the electric guitar as its centrepiece, adapting his rock band instrumentation from the basic blues band instrumentation of a lead guitar, second chord instrument, bass and drums. _ Bill Haley and his Comets performing in the 1954 Universal International film Round Up of Rhythm_

Rock and roll arrived at a time of considerable technological change, soon after the development of the electric guitar, amplifier and microphone , and the 45 rpm record . There were also changes in the record industry, with the rise of independent labels like Atlantic , Sun and Chess servicing niche audiences and a similar rise of radio stations that played their music. It was the realization that relatively affluent white teenagers were listening to this music that led to the development of what was to be defined as rock and roll as a distinct genre. Because the development of rock and roll was an evolutionary process, no single record can be identified as unambiguously "the first" rock and roll record. Contenders for the title of "first rock and roll record " include "The Fat Man " by Fats Domino (1949), Sister Rosetta Tharpe 's "Strange Things Happening Everyday" (1944), Goree Carter 's "Rock Awhile " (1949), Jimmy Preston 's " Rock the Joint " (1949), which was later covered by Bill Haley the latter two also made use of distorted power chords in the early 1950s. Also in 1955, Bo Diddley introduced the " Bo Diddley beat " and a unique electric guitar style, influenced by African and Afro-Cuban music and in turn influencing many later artists.


Main article: Rockabilly _ Elvis Presley in a promotion shot for Jailhouse Rock _ in 1957

"Rockabilly" usually (but not exclusively) refers to the type of rock and roll music which was played and recorded in the mid-1950s primarily by white singers such as Elvis Presley , Carl Perkins , Johnny Cash , and Jerry Lee Lewis , who drew mainly on the country roots of the music. Many other popular rock and roll singers of the time, such as Fats Domino and Little Richard , came out of the black rhythm and blues tradition, making the music attractive to white audiences, and are not usually classed as "rockabilly".

Bill Flagg who is a Connecticut resident, began referring to his mix of hillbilly and rock 'n' roll music as rockabilly around 1953. His song "Guitar Rock" is considered as classic rockabilly.

In July 1954, Elvis Presley recorded the regional hit "That\'s All Right " at Sam Phillips' Sun Studio in Memphis. Three months earlier, on April 12, 1954, Bill Haley & His Comets recorded "Rock Around the Clock". Although only a minor hit when first released, when used in the opening sequence of the movie _ Blackboard Jungle _ a year later, it set the rock and roll boom in motion. The song became one of the biggest hits in history, and frenzied teens flocked to see Haley and the Comets perform it, causing riots in some cities. "Rock Around the Clock" was a breakthrough for both the group and for all of rock and roll music. If everything that came before laid the groundwork, "Rock Around the Clock" introduced the music to a global audience.

In 1956, the arrival of rockabilly was underlined by the success of songs like "Folsom Prison Blues " by Johnny Cash , " Blue Suede Shoes " by Perkins and " Heartbreak Hotel " by Presley. For a few years it became the most commercially successful form of rock and roll. Later rockabilly acts, particularly performing songwriters like Buddy Holly , would be a major influence on British Invasion acts and particularly on the song writing of the Beatles and through them on the nature of later rock music.


Main article: Doo wop

Doo wop was one of the most popular forms of 1950s rhythm and blues, often compared with rock and roll, with an emphasis on multi-part vocal harmonies and meaningless backing lyrics (from which the genre later gained its name), which were usually supported with light instrumentation. Its origins were in African-American vocal groups of the 1930s and 40s, like the Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers , who had enjoyed considerable commercial success with arrangements based on close harmonies. They were followed by 1940s R&B vocal acts like the Orioles , the Ravens and the Clovers , who injected a strong element of traditional gospel and, increasingly, the energy of jump blues . By 1954, as rock and roll was beginning to emerge, a number of similar acts began to cross over from the R&B charts to mainstream success, often with added honking brass and saxophone, with the Crows , the Penguins , the El Dorados and the Turbans all scoring major hits. Despite the subsequent explosion in records from doo wop acts in the later '50s, many failed to chart or were one-hit wonders. Exceptions included the Platters , with songs including " The Great Pretender " (1955) and the Coasters with humorous songs like " Yakety Yak " (1958), both of which ranked among the most successful rock and roll acts of the era. Towards the end of the decade there were increasing numbers of white, particularly Italian-American, singers taking up Doo Wop, creating all-white groups like the Mystics and Dion and the Belmonts and racially integrated groups like the Del-Vikings and the Impalas . Doo wop would be a major influence on vocal surf music, soul and early Merseybeat, including the Beatles.


Main article: Cover version

Many of the earliest white rock and roll hits were covers or partial re-writes of earlier black rhythm and blues or blues songs. Through the late 1940s and early 1950s, R&B music had been gaining a stronger beat and a wilder style, with artists such as Fats Domino and Johnny Otis speeding up the tempos and increasing the backbeat to great popularity on the juke joint circuit. Before the efforts of Freed and others, black music was taboo on many white-owned radio outlets, but artists and producers quickly recognized the potential of rock and roll. Most of Presley's early hits were covers of black rhythm and blues or blues songs, like "That\'s All Right " (a countrified arrangement of a blues number), "Baby Let\'s Play House ", "Lawdy Miss Clawdy " and "Hound Dog ". The racial lines however are rather more clouded by the fact that some of these R many publishers, record executives, and even managers (both white and black) would insert their name as composer in order to collect royalty checks. Rock and roller Little Richard performing in 2007

Covers were customary in the music industry at the time; it was made particularly easy by the compulsory license provision of United States copyright law (still in effect). One of the first relevant successful covers was Wynonie Harris 's transformation of Roy Brown 's 1947 original jump blues hit " Good Rocking Tonight " into a more showy rocker and the Louis Prima rocker "Oh Babe" in 1950, as well as Amos Milburn 's cover of what may have been the first white rock and roll record, Hardrock Gunter 's " Birmingham Bounce" in 1949. The most notable trend, however, was white pop covers of black R"> Buddy Holly and his band, The Crickets

Some commentators have suggested a decline of rock and roll in the late 1950s and early 1960s. By 1959, the deaths of Buddy Holly , The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens in a plane crash (February 1959), the departure of Elvis for service in the United States Army (March 1958), the retirement of Little Richard to become a preacher (October 1957), the scandal surrounding Jerry Lee Lewis ' marriage to his thirteen-year-old cousin (May 1958), the arrest of Chuck Berry (December 1959), and the breaking of the Payola scandal implicating major figures, including Alan Freed , in bribery and corruption in promoting individual acts or songs (November 1959), gave a sense that the initial phase of rock and roll had come to an end.

Some music historians have pointed to important and innovative developments that built on rock and roll in this period, including multitrack recording , developed by Les Paul , the electronic treatment of sound by such innovators as Joe Meek , and the "Wall of Sound " productions of Phil Spector , continued desegregation of the charts, the rise of surf music , garage rock and the Twist dance craze. Surf rock in particular, noted for the use of reverb-drenched guitars, became one of the most popular forms of American rock of the 1960s.


Tommy Steele , one of the first British rock and rollers, performing in Stockholm in 1957 Main article: British rock and roll

In the 1950s, Britain was well placed to receive American rock and roll music and culture. It shared a common language, had been exposed to American culture through the stationing of troops in the country, and shared many social developments, including the emergence of distinct youth sub-cultures, which in Britain included the Teddy Boys and the rockers . Trad Jazz became popular, and many of its musicians were influenced by related American styles, including boogie woogie and the blues. The skiffle craze, led by Lonnie Donegan , utilised amateurish versions of American folk songs and encouraged many of the subsequent generation of rock and roll, folk, R&B and beat musicians to start performing. At the same time British audiences were beginning to encounter American rock and roll, initially through films including _ Blackboard Jungle _ (1955) and _ Rock Around the Clock _ (1955). Both movies contained the Bill Haley however, in 1958 Britain produced its first "authentic" rock and roll song and star, when Cliff Richard reached number 2 in the charts with " Move It ". At the same time, TV shows such as _ Six-Five Special _ and _Oh Boy! _ promoted the careers of British rock and rollers like Marty Wilde and Adam Faith . Cliff Richard and his backing band, the Shadows , were the most successful home grown rock and roll based acts of the era. Other leading acts included Billy Fury , Joe Brown , and Johnny Kidd ">_ "There's No Romance in Rock and Roll" made the cover of True Life Romance_ in 1956

Several rock historians have claimed that rock and roll was one of the first music genres to define an age group. It gave teenagers a sense of belonging, even when they were alone. Rock and roll is often identified with the emergence of teen culture among the first baby boomer generation, who had both greater relative affluence, leisure and who adopted rock and roll as part of a distinct sub-culture. This involved not just music, absorbed via radio, record buying, jukeboxes and TV programs like _ American Bandstand _, but it also extended to film, clothes, hair, cars and motorbikes, and distinctive language. The contrast between parental and youth culture exemplified by rock and roll was a recurring source of concern for older generations, who worried about juvenile delinquency and social rebellion, particularly as to a large extent rock and roll culture was shared by different racial and social groups.

In America, that concern was conveyed even in youth cultural artifacts such as comic books . In "There's No Romance in Rock and Roll" from _True Life Romance_ (1956), a defiant teen dates a rock and roll-loving boy but drops him for one who likes traditional adult music— to her parents' relief. In Britain, where post-war prosperity was more limited, rock and roll culture became attached to the pre-existing Teddy Boy movement, largely working class in origins, and eventually to the longer lasting rockers . Rock and roll has been seen as reorienting popular music towards a teen market, often celebrating teen fashions, as in Carl Perkins ' " Blue Suede Shoes " (1956) or Dion and the Belmonts ' " A Teenager in Love " (1960).


From its early 1950s beginning through the early 1960s, rock and roll music spawned new dance crazes . Teenagers found the syncopated backbeat rhythm especially suited to reviving Big Band era jitterbug dancing. "Sock hops ", gym dances, and home basement dance parties became the rage, and American teens watched Dick Clark 's _American Bandstand _ to keep up on the latest dance and fashion styles. From the mid-1960s on, as "rock and roll" was rebranded as just "rock", later dance genres followed, starting with the twist , and leading up to funk , disco , house , techno , and hip hop .


* 1950s in music * 1960s in music * 20th-century music * Counterculture of the 1960s * List of deaths in rock and roll * List of rock genres * List of rock albums * ' Race music ' * Rockabilly Hall of Fame * Social effects of rock music


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