Rock music's roots are primarily in the rock and roll style developed during the late 1940s and into the early 1950s, which, itself was heavily influenced by rhythm and blues, gospel and country music, although it also incorporated, to a lesser degree, elements from folk, jazz and classical, to name a few. In 1951, Cleveland, Ohio disc jockey Alan Freed began playing rhythm and blues music for a multi-racial audience, and is credited with first using the phrase "rock and roll" to describe the music.
To this day, debate rages which record should be considered the first rock and roll record. Contenders include Goree Carter's "Rock Awhile" (1949), Jimmy Preston's "Rock the Joint" (1949), which was later covered by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1952, and "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats in 1949. Four years later, Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" (1955) became the first rock and roll song to top Billboard magazine's main sales and airplay charts; rock and roll became a major export for America worldwide. Other influential artists included: Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent. It quickly evolved into a more specialized 'Rock music,' which is often used synonymously, but in-fact, features musical differences still active today.
Rock music centers mostly around the electric guitar, usually performed with a group of musicians playing electric bass guitar, drums and, optionally, another guitar and/or vocalist at a 4/4 time signature in verse-chorus form; this is the norm but over the years diversity has changed this basic formula to suit the musical fashion or needs of the time. Unlike typical Pop music rock tends to favor a harder edge, overall musicianship, authenticity and live performances.
By the late 1960s the 'Classic Rock' era had begun with a number of sub-genres forming including: blues rock, folk rock, country rock, and jazz-rock fusion, each name self descriptive to the style's emphasis. Many of these variations contributed to the development of psychedelic rock, which, in turn, was influenced by the counter cultural psychedelic scene popular at the time. Within a few short years, new genres like progressive rock, glam rock, and the most diverse and remarkably enduring major sub-genre of heavy metal emerged. Each style emphasizing a different aspect of rock's character: Glam utilized the showmanship, progressive enjoyed the artistic nature of music, while heavy metal emphasized the volume, power and speed over all else.
In the second half of the 1970s, punk rock intensified and reacted against the trends of both society and rock music itself to produce a raw, energetic form of music emphasizing overt political and social topics. Although punk in its raw form would not last as a whole unit for long, the sub-genre did influence rock well into the 1980s on the subsequent development of other sub-genres, like: new wave, post-punk, and eventually the entire 'alternative' rock movement, even touching on the ever-lasting heavy metal. From the 1990s alternative rock began to dominate rock music and break through into the mainstream in the form of grunge, Britpop and 'indie' rock. Further fusion sub-genres have since emerged as well as efforts of revising rock's history.
Unlike styles of popular music, rock lyrics have dealt with a wide range of themes in addition to romantic love: including sex, rebellion against "The Establishment", social concerns and life styles. These themes were inherited from sources like: 'Tin Pan Alley' pop tradition, folk music and rhythm and blues. Rock has been seen as an appropriation of earlier black musical forms, however, there is no doubt that traditionally it has been consumed and performed by while, middle class males, and as a result the concerns of this demographic tend to dominate the subjects it expresses.
Rock music has served as the vehicle for both cultural and social movements, leading to several music based sub-cultures including mods and rockers in the UK, as well and the hippie counterculture that spread out from San Francisco in the 1960s. By the 1970s punk culture spawned the visually distinctive Goth and EMO subcultures, and in the 1980s the term 'metalheads' was coined to define those into heavy metal.
Inheriting the folk tradition of the protest song, rock music has been associated with political activism, as rock music has been instrumental in forming changes in social attitudes to race, sex, fashion and drug use. The music is seen as an expression of youth revolt against adult consumerism and conformity; never mind that it tends to evolve into the new consumerism and norm only to revolt and start again with each new generation.
For purposes of the Diskery database 'Rock and Roll' and 'Rock' are considered the same genre even though there are technical differences between them. We have done this to simplify the categorization because Rock's direct parent is Rock and Roll.
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