The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1963 by Ed WardEd Ward covers the first half of the social history of rock & roll in this definitive book. Beginning in the 1920s when blues, country, and black popular music played over the air waves and the first independent record labels were born, this first volume of a two-part series finishes in December 1963, just as an immense sea-change begins to take hold and the Beatles prepare for their first American tour. Ward introduces you to the musicians, DJs, record executives, and producers who were at the forefront of the genre. Sharing story after story of some of the most unforgettable and groundbreaking moments in rock history, Ward reveals how different sounds, harmonies, and trends came together to create the music we all know and love today.
Ed Ward has been NPR’s Fresh Air rock & roll historian for the last thirty-five years reaching 14 million listeners. In these pages he shares his endless depth of knowledge and through engrossing storytelling hops seamlessly from Memphis to Chicago, Detroit, England, New York, and everywhere in between covering all the big-name acts everyone is already familiar with, from Elvis and Buddy Holly to Chuck Berry, while filling in gaps of knowledge with the more obscure and forgotten names of music’s past like T-Bone Walker and The Ventures.
For all music lovers and rock & roll fans, this sweeping history will shine a light on the corners of the genre to reveal some of the less well-known yet hugely influential artists who changed the musical landscape forever.
The 50s: A Decade of Music That Changed the World
According to Greg Kot , "rock and roll" refers to a style of popular music originating in the U. In the earliest rock and roll styles, either the piano or saxophone was typically the lead instrument, but these instruments were generally replaced or supplemented by guitar in the middle to late s. Beyond simply a musical style, rock and roll, as seen in movies, in fan magazines, and on television, influenced lifestyles, fashion, attitudes, and language. In addition, rock and roll may have contributed to the civil rights movement because both African-American and white American teenagers enjoyed the 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 s, on recordings and in reviews of what became known as "rhythm and blues" music aimed at a black audience.
The Golden Decade - The use of rock, roll, rock and roll, etc. A form of popular music arising from and incorporating a variety of musical styles, especially rhythm and blues, country music, gospel. Originating in the United States in the s, it is characterized by electronically amplified instrumentation, a heavily accented beat, and relatively simple phrase structure. This web page attempts to explore the roots of rock in such a way as to illuminate the natural progression of musical styles.
Rock and roll has been described as a merger of country music and rhythm and blues , but, if it were that simple, it would have existed long before it burst into the national consciousness. The seeds of the music had been in place for decades, but they flowered in the mids when nourished by a volatile mix of black culture and white spending power. Black vocal groups such as the Dominoes and the Spaniels began combining gospel-style harmonies and call-and-response singing with earthy subject matter and more aggressive rhythm-and-blues rhythms. In that sound coalesced around an image: that of a handsome white singer, Elvis Presley , who sounded like a black man. Yet his early recordings with producer Sam Phillips , guitarist Scotty Moore , and bassist Bill Black for Sun Records in Memphis were less about any one style than about a feeling.
The history of rock music has been volatile and unpredictable as the genre has constantly redefined and reinvented itself since its emergence in the late s. Not surprisingly, then, it can be difficult to apply a straightforward definition to such a restless musical format. But while people might quibble over specifics, rock music can generally be described as hard-edged music performed with electric guitars, bass, and drums and usually accompanied by lyrics sung by a vocalist.
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