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Rock Music


It is almost impossible to trace the origin of 
Rock Music

as it includes a variety of black and white American music styles: black guitar-accompanied blues; black rhythm and blues; black and white gospel music; white country and western music; and the songs of white popular crooners and harmony groups. When it first began, rock music was referred to as "rock 'n' roll'. After 1964 it was simply called "rock music" and was no longer just for dancing. The first rock 'n' roll record to achieve national popularity was "Rock Around the Clock" made by Bill Haley and the Comets in 1955. It had an exciting back beat and the lyrics were earthy and simple. Haley was able to translate black rhythm and blues into a form that adolescent white audiences could understand. Rock 'n' roll was for and about adolescents. Its lyrics dealt with teenage problems: school, cars, summer vacation, parents, and, most important young love. The primary instruments of this music were guitar, bass, piano, drums, and saxophone. The primary focus is its heavy beat, loudness, self-absorbed lyrics, and raving delivery. The greatest proponent of rock 'n' roll from 1956 to 1963 was Elvis Presley, a truck driver and aspiring singer from Tupelo, Miss. His dynamic delivery and uninhibited sexuality appealed directly to young audiences while horrifying older people. At the turn of the decade Detroit became an important center for black singers, and a certain type of sound known as "Motown" named for Motown Record, developed. This music is characterized by a lead singer singing an almost impressionistic melody story line to the accompaniment of harmonies of a backup group. Some singers who made this style famous are Diana Ross and the Supremes, and Gladys Knight and the Pips. Rock music again surged to popularity in 1962 with the emergence of the Beatles, a group of four long-haired boys from Liverpool, England. Their popularity produced other groups with unusual names such as the Rolling Stones. These groups revived the blues orientation of rock 'n' roll and their presentations were even louder and more electric. An important transformation of rock occurred in 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival when Bob Dylan, noted as a composer and writer of folk songs and songs of social protest, appeared playing electric guitar and backed by an electrified rock band. This brought about a fusion of folk and rock; folk groups used rock arrangements and rock singers composed poetic lyrics for their songs. In the 1960s music reflected the tensions of the Vietnam War era and played an important role in American culture. Rock songs turned toward rebellion, protest, sex and drugs. Some group vocalists tried to reflect in music the experience of psychedelic drugs, producing long, repetitive songs with surreal lyrics (known as "acid rock" or "hard rock"). By the late 1960s rock was widely regarded as an important musical form. Musicians such as Miles Davis and John Mc Laughlin tried to combine rock and jazz, and artists as Leonard Bernstein tried combine rock and classical music. From 1967 onward, the rock festival was regarded as the ideal context in which to hear rock music, and thousands of fans attended. The most successful and peaceful rock festival, Woodstock, was held in 1969. Later, however, a similar event, featuring the Rolling Stones, was held in California and was marked by several violent incidents including a murder. The format projected by the Rolling Stones was taken to extremes by performers such as Alice Cooper and David Bowie with the outrageous behavior during their performances. A turning point in rock music occurred in the late 1970s in the form of punk rock, which used political protest themes as the base of their music. By the early 1980s, it had changed rock music considerably; however, in the 1990s the continuing popularity of older bands, such as the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones, bore witness to the enduring appeal of this form among both the young and the increasingly middle-aged. The appeal of older and past rock bands was also evident at the opening (1995) of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.   


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