What musical artists would be considered cornerstones (or pillars) of the classic rock genre?
So many names come to mind but I think The Who pioneered rock as performance art along with being a voice for it's audience (The Mods of the 60's). Pete Townsend in particular was a seminal rhythm guitar player and combined the sheer force of his personality and playing with strong social commentary in his lyrics:
"Meet the new boss; same as the old boss!"
Of course these words were song by Roger Daltry...
From the online version of Merriam Webster:
Pillar: a firm upright support for a superstructure
How fitting that the answer is to refer to the support of the superstructure known as Classic Rock. Like the Parthenon, it takes a whole lot of Pillars to carry the weight of its ‘superstructure’.
When was the last time you listened to the Self-titled Bad Company album from 1974? Richly produced, simply played music and pounding beats with just a tease of a ballad (Seagull) yet it stands the test of time. If that album came out tomorrow for the first time, it would still gather the attention it richly deserves. The Beatles great experiment with Sgt Pepper’s (1967) still inspires and in some circles being deciphered to this day. Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival (1967) influenced the extravagances of Metal, Performance Rock and yes-even Punk
Speaking of studio influences, let us not forget Studio producers like George Martin for the Beatles, or Alan Parsons producing Dark Side of the Moon for Pink Floyd.
However, every “Pillar” needs a strong foundation, Jan and Dean, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash to name a few.
Then there are the great interpreters, who covered unknown classics from the early 50’s that charted into iconic Rock singles. The Doors – Who do you Love, Creedence Clearwater Revival – Suzie Q and Van Halen – Dancing in the Streets.
I would not envy the unlucky person the job of having to name each Pillar of the Parthenon with an influential Rock artist. I do not believe there are that many Pillars there.
Without a doubt, in my mind anyway, Elvis because without him there'd have probably been no rock and roll. Others were playing it after he had the nerve to actually break out of the norm and do his own thing. Others who came during and after him to the rock and roll scene are good, but Elvis was the pioneer paving the way for others.
I concur with rgerman, the beatles' pioneering recording techniques and aural psychedelics, alan parson who produced dark side of the moon, and more or less made it the way it is presented to us, and the likes of hendrix, who won a guitar playoff against a man who went first, playing "every scale under the sun". Hendrix just turned around and used the feedback from his amp.
The great pillar of rock always is innovation
Well, Rgerman points out the pillars, but "cornerstones" are foundational supports, and I think it would be remiss not to point out that Rock & Roll is strongly founded in "The Blues".
In the 1950's at about the time Elvis came along and made his way onto the music scene, there were plenty of black artists that paved the way. The so-called "race music" of Jerry Lee Lewis had long prior been set firmly on a foundation that included the likes of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Little Milton, Howlin Wolf, Willie Dixon, Etta James, BB King, and others.
Clearly there would never have been Rock & Roll without The Blues....The term "rock & roll" is a euphemism for having sex, and originates in a 1939 Buddy Jones "Honky Tonk" tune with the follwing lyrics: "Waves on the ocean, waves in the sea/ But that gal of mine rolls just right for me/ Rockin' rollin' mama, I love the way you rock and roll".
Disc Jockey Alan Freed is credited for having first called the mix of Blues and Country music Rock & Roll.
Bill Haley and the Comets, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Chuck Berry. Without them there would be no Beatles, Stones, etc. And don't forget doo-wop.
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