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The History of Rock and Roll Music

Updated on August 22, 2015
57Corvette ~ Bob's  "If there's a Rock and Roll Heaven"
57Corvette ~ Bob's "If there's a Rock and Roll Heaven"

There was once a time before Rock and Roll music. In the twenty first century, we take it's influence for granted; we see the impact of this genre everywhere in clothing, language and of course music. Many of us aren't old enough to remember a time before this music. Although many believe Rock and Roll started in the early to mid 1950s with performers such as Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Bill Hailey and the work of Alan Freed to bring Rock and Roll into mainstream America, this genre is larger than these people; it's roots go much deeper. For example, take a look at the genre Rhythm and Blues; this genre comes from the Blues, and the Blues are from work songs sung by African-Americans in southern United States before the civil war. The name of this music was "Call and response" Unknown to plantation owners, it was often used as a coded communications network to receive and send information.

Moving along, Rock and Roll is a combination of many musical styles such as Country, Rhythm and blues, Jazz and Gospel to name a few. The words Rock and Roll have been used by various recording artist as far back as 1916, to mean different things. it is believed the first modern reference to Rock and Roll to be used in the same context as 1950s music was sung by Trixie Smith in her 1922 record " My man rocks me "; In 1934, the Boswell Sisters sang a song that was considered controversial with the words "Rock and Roll" in it; It is believed this song was a forerunner of rock music that crossed racial and class boundaries. As mentioned earlier, one of the earliest known records was from an unknown Gospel quartet recorded back in 1916; The record was recorded on the Little Wonder label, and the name of the song was " Rocking and Rolling in your arms " .

While it is true Alan Freed helped to bring the name " Rock and Roll " into mainstream America, and the names Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley (to name a few) became stars around the same time, and are all musical legends now. What many don't think about is the underlying technological changes that were happening to get this music into the hands of Americana's teen population. Some of you reading this article may remember the record; In the early 1950s, advances in technology lead to the creation of 33s(album) and the 45(single), to replace the much older 78. The advantages of the 45 and 33 over the older 78 was sound quality. Also, the 33 held close to seven times the music the old 78 could store. In addition the cost to produce a 45 and a 33 became a lot cheaper to produce than a 78. In addition, with advances in electronics, the players became smaller and cheaper. A teenager could have their own record player in their bedroom. Another change during this period was the transistor radio. Once again as was case with record player, the transistor made them smaller and cheap; a teenager could have their own radio. It didn't stop there; up until the early 1950s, a radio was an expensive option for an automobile. The transistor technology made radio a standard feature in the car. So basically the transistor helped to set the stage for Rock and Roll to catch on. One other important change was the production of the Fender Electric guitar in 1952; this guitar had a much better sound, and it was the first relatively cheap electric guitar. Later in 1954 Leo Fender introduced a better guitar called the Fender Stratocaster; this guitar revolutionized the rock music sound, and in time would become the choice for guitarist such as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.

Jadranka "Ole Time Rock and Roll"
Jadranka "Ole Time Rock and Roll"

Radio stations changed too; before stations had a homogeneous audience; now it was divided into different interest. Teenagers with their own radios, and bored with their parents music, began to look for something different; those in metropolitan areas begun to tune their radios to Rhythm and Blues stations; now with the traditional black audience listening and a white teen audience listening, radio stations were looking for a way to keep both groups happy. So the name "Rock and Roll" was used. Once all the pieces were in place, a market now exist for Rock and Roll music.

Rock and Roll is an ever changing genre. It has change at it core; this is true for the 1950s and it is no different today. Bo Diddley would become known as "The Originator"; He would Influence musical legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones. Elvis would be discovered at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee and go on to be an internationally known musician. Chuck Berry would become one of the greatest guitarist in the world; on the Rolling Stone list of 100 greatest guitarist of all time, Berry would be number six. All these guys have had a big influence on many of the big name including the Beatles. Once the music genres of Country, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz and Gospel merged and combined with the technological developments early in the 1950s, it created a demand for this type of music. Once a demand existed, the stage was set for the fathers of modern Rock and Roll to become legends.

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    • Coolmon2009 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @tonymac04 - Glad you enjoyed my article; I hope it brought back pleasant memories for you.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Elvis, Little Richard, Bo Diddley - what names and what music! Took me right back to my high school days. Thanks.

      Love and peace


    • Coolmon2009 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @shimla - Thank you for your comments, and thanks for stopping by.

    • shimla profile image


      8 years ago

      Enjoyed this a lot - big fan of Chuck Berry & Bo Diddley - it's hard to predict where music will go next or where it will be in 50 years - rock n' roll will never die! Thanks, Shimla

    • Coolmon2009 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Leighandrew - Oh my gosh..I haven't seen a 78 or the player since my great uncle died in the mid 1980's(He was 106 when he died) He had a nice 78 player he purchased in the 1920's. I am sure one of my relatives sold it or kept it. Anyways,In the early 80's he asked me to find him a needle for his record player. I thought it wasn't possible to find one; I went to Woolsworth and they had the correct needle for his player - Thanks for sharing that bit of information;it brings back memories for me.

    • Leighandrew profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      I still have some 78's, just no way to play them !

    • Coolmon2009 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      Maita - Once again thank you for stopping by

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      8 years ago from US

      Rock and roll rocks hehe, very nice cool, Thanks, Maita

    • Coolmon2009 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Truth From Truth - Thanks for stopping by

    • Truth From Truth profile image

      Truth From Truth 

      8 years ago from Michigan

      Great hub, you mentioned some wonderful classic rock musicians. I have always liked Chuck Berry, and Jimi Hendrix, and of course the Stones. Thanks.

    • Coolmon2009 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @cojaqmarketing - Thanks for your comments

    • cojaqmarketing profile image


      8 years ago from Carmel, Indiana

      A subject that's near and dear to a lot of us...rock n roll baby! Great info, thanks for sharing.


    • Coolmon2009 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Mystique1957 - Thank you for you feedback

    • Mystique1957 profile image


      8 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

      Hey! This is a great hub for all of us Rock`n`rollers and music lovers! My range of music taste has widened with the years, and even though my very personal taste is quite hard and intense, I couldn`t live without Rock`n`roll in all its expressions.

      Very much Appreciated!


    • Coolmon2009 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @amulets - he was one of the greats; thanks for your comments

    • amulets profile image


      8 years ago from Singapore

      That's cool! Love Elvis songs that he had sang.

    • Coolmon2009 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @dahoglund - the combination of Rock around the Clock and delinquent kids in the Blackboard Jungle must have been a parents worst nightmare I can understand that. I like some of the music from Sun records and in general most of the music of the 1950's - thanks for your feedback

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      When I was in high school back in the 1950's music on the radio and at school dances was eclectic and rock and roll was almost underground. Bill Haley became known because of Rock Around the clock used as a theme for the movie "Blackboard Jungle. possibly why the music was considered suspect. Then Sun Records started releasing Johnnie Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis and the world of music changed. I still like Rock-a-billy and I like the Bill Haley sound.

    • Coolmon2009 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      @Ralph Deeds - Thanks again I was a little surprised myself how deep the roots of Rock and Roll go. Although i didn't touch on it i really loved the Doo Wop sounds in the history video in this article; I love that old time music

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Great stuff. This hub brought back memories and some music I hadn't heard before. You're turning me into a lat-in-life rock'n'roll fan.


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