A Quick History of Rock Music

Certain aspects of the history of rock music are hotly debated. It is impossible to draw a timeline explaining when it was created because people interpret what is considered rock music differently. However, rock can be traced to its roots in American music and culture.

Early "Rock And Roll"
Rock music originated in the 1940s and 50s and grew from various other American music forms, including blues, country and jazz. In its earliest incarnation, musicians such as Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis were playing edgier and more upbeat music than their predecessors. The term "rock and roll" was applied to music for the first time in 1951 by Cleveland disc Jockey Alan Freed after the Trixie Smith song "My Baby Rocks me With One Steady Roll." Before that, "rock and roll" had been slang for sexual intercourse.

Though what is considered the first true rock record is debatable, Rolling Stone Magazine has argued that it is Elvis Presley's 1954 debut "That's All Right (Mama)," which was recorded at Sun Records in Memphis. Though rock music did have some big acts in the 1950s, including Elvis, Link Wray and Little Richard, it was taken to another level in the 1960s.

The British Invasion
The British Invasion, which began in 1964, marked a massive influx of British rock bands into mainstream American music. First the Beatles and then other acts like the Rolling Stones, the Animals and the Kinks, along with dozens of other groups, all went from unknown to enormously popular in America in a two-year period beginning in 1964. Many of these bands, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds (fronted by a then little-known gentleman named Eric Clapton), cited American blues as a major musical influence.

The Rock And Roll Lifestyle
Rock and Roll did more than change the way Americans and the rest of the world listened to music. It introduced a whole new culture that included fashion trends, new forms of slang and new lifestyles. It helped legitimize the civil rights movement and popularized many illegal drugs. It ushered in an era of more casual sex and increased self-awareness. During the late 60's and early 70's, rock music magazines, most notably Rolling Stone, launched to appeal to this new class of American citizens.

From the beginning, many rock and roll stars have used their influence to try to better the world. John Lennon held a bed-in in 1969, when he and his wife Yoko Ono sat in bed for two weeks in protest of the Vietnam War. In 1985, acts like the Who, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys and Queen gathered for Live Aid, which raised money for famine relief in Africa.

Rock and Roll continued to evolve in the following decades, seeing the rise of arena rock and punk rock in the 70s, plus heavy metal in the 80s and grunge and pop-punk in the 90s. Although rock is now considered mainstream, it still holds on to its rebellious streak.

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