A Brief Overview of Rock and Roll
As a style of music, Rock and Roll – commonly referred to as Rock’n’Roll – was developed in the USA around the early 1950s. It combined influences of African American music, notably blues and jazz, adding a heavier background beat. Early Rock and Roll artists include Chuck Berry and Bill Haley & his Comets. From the music, a new genre began to emerge, producing a Rock and Roll style of attitude and fashion.
Developing the genre to a wider audience, white American Rock and Rolll performers in 1950s, most notably Elvis Presley, often sang covers of country music or Rhythm and Blues songs originally written by African American artists, but with the Rock and Roll twists of extra drums and more upbeat tempo. Electric guitars and bass guitars began to be key requirements to the Rock and Roll sound.
In Britain, the presence of artists such as Elvis and Buddy Holly in the music charts began to influence the sound of native performers. Cliff Richard and The Beatles achieved music chart fame with their interpretations of the genre. By the 1960s, British Rock and Roll was developing a heavier, more aggressive sound, led by groups including The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and The Who. This music also became popular in America, where it was dubbed “The British Invasion“.
Culturally, Rock and Roll music appealed to a teenage audience, not least because because taboo subjects – such as sex and drugs – were being addressed in popular music for the first time. Young people could often identify with the subjects of the songs, and could express their connection to the music with clothing, language, and various lifestyle accessories. In America in particular, young people of different races were able to connect over this style of music with its shared roots; white and black performers both began to appeal to a wider audience.
The Rock and Roll era began to fade at the end of the decade, giving way to a more general culture of rock music. A variety of other musical influences, including jazz and classical, built on the existing sound, creating several new genres of rock.