Even if you are not a fan of rock music, you cannot deny the impact this type of popular music has had on culture as well as the music industry.
Rock and roll originated in the United States in the mid-1950s, and it quickly evolved into a more international style of music that is often referred to as “rock music.” Some describe the genre as a combination of country style and rhythm and blues style music, but others scoff at that, calling it too simplistic of a definition.
There is no doubt that the seeds of this style of music were in place for many years before the mid-1950s. Groups like the Dominoes combined gospel-sounding harmonies with earthy subject matters that caught on quickly. Disc jockeys embraced the new sound. And in 1954, Elvis Presley exploded onto the scene with a unique sound and a raunchy—for the time—style of dancing that teenagers immediately embraced. His style oozed sexuality, and he was the catalyst that merged together Black and white culture into an entirely new style of music; his impact is still felt today.
What Elvis Did for Rock and Roll
cannot be credited with inventing rock and roll, but he spread this new genre across the country, boosting its popularity among a huge audience. His impact on youth culture cannot be underestimated. Teenagers of the 1950s already have a feeling that they were very different from generations past. There was an economic prosperity of that decade that is unrivaled, and it gave teenagers of the era a lot more disposable income than generations past. Money no longer had to go toward helping the family survive; it could be spent on fashion and music. In retrospect, it should have been no surprise that Elvis’s fashion sense and hairstyle would become popular.
Other Influential Early Rockers
The of Black artists such as Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Fats Domino fit in well alongside the sounds of performers such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Eddie Cochran, and Buddy Holly. They were all addressing the same audience—teenagers—who were ripe for the rebellion this new music provided a soundtrack for. Teens in movie houses all across America stomped on their seats when Bill Haley and the Comets played “Rock Around the Clock” in the 1955 movie “Blackboard Jungle.” That same year, “Rebel Without a Cause,” starring the youthfully defiant James Dean, was gobbled up by teenagers. There was suddenly a rock and roll culture that was quickly condemned by parents as well as church and government officials.
The music industry responded by attempting to sanitize the music, offering clean-cut artists—Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and Pat Boone, for example—to record tame versions of rock and roll songs. This began a transitional phase for rock music that eventually morphed into the more sophisticated sounds of the 1960s.
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