Rock N Roll, slang for the phrase Rock and Roll, is a particular kind of music that emerged within the US in the decade of 1950s and got popular. Even today, Rock N Roll music is heard all over the world and accepted as a distinctive genre to music. Rock music comprises heavy instruments, bass, drums, electric guitars, and aggressive music. It can also be described as a mix of country music, rhythm, and blues. Many of the world’s top singers and bands are focused on the Rock N Roll genre.
How did Rock N Roll Originate?
Rock N Roll music began from Black American music such as jazz, boogie-woogie, rhythm, and blues, as well as jump blues music. Although some people believe that the formative elements were heard in the 1920s, a proper name was given in 1954. Since there weren’t as many heavy and high pitch instruments in the decade, the earliest Rock N Roll consisted of a piano or a saxophone being the lead instrument.
Piano and Saxophone had one thing in common and both could go from high pitch to low pitch easily allowing for a rocky vibe to the listener. In the mid-1950s, the influence of Rock N Roll got so much that the instruments got replaced by the guitar. Since the beat is a dance rhythm, the backbeat was provided with the aid of a snare drum. Rock N Roll bands followed the composition of two electric guitars with one being the lead and the other being rhythm along with a double bass. It was the 1950s when bass guitars and sophisticated drum kits also got popular towards Rock N Roll.
The Influence of Rock Music in the 1950s
Rock N Roll was a major influence on African Americans. Social injustice was highlighted and since the early Rock N Roll was being performed only by African Americans, the teenagers listening to this music were inspired. It also paved the way towards the acceptance of African Americans who were neglected for a long time. Not just this but during the concerts, Whites, and Blacks mixed together eliminating the culture of racism and more actively accepting each other.
The influence of music and singers was so much that even the movies that featured Black Americans got popular. Blackboard Jungle, a movie of 1955 showed mergers in schools and inspired youth to question authority. There were various other films too. This was one positive effect because earlier, there was a gap between the Whites and Blacks but Rock N Roll proved to be the bridge between the two. We can also say that the long-standing prejudices against African Americans were reduced.
Problems to Parents
However, a negative aspect was also noticed. With too much sexuality, rudeness, and “dirty” lyrics in the songs, many elders considered these songs to be harmful to their children. On the other hand, teenagers were only being attracted to Rock music for becoming a symbol of “cool”. Parents disliked the fact that the influence being created by the Rock music was harmful towards the personality of the teens because the lyrics were sometimes too much for a teen.
In the continuity of this problem, the racism factor rose once again. Although the young generation was becoming more against racism and getting closer to African Americans, it was the parents and elders who thought the opposite. Parents were upset because African American Rock music was being a bad influence on their child. Even if a white performer was found playing the song, it was alleged that he had been inspired by African Americans. The rebellious nature of music was very disliked by the parents.
Learn more about music supervision from here – What is Music Supervision?
Being a popular form of music, there were other influences too such as the attention of the media which was seen towards the Rock singers. These singers were often interviewed by television channels which aided in the popularity of Rock music making it more impactful towards the listeners. The advent of radio and societal changes were also the factors that made it more famous. Rock Music was played on more radio stations because “it was what the audience wanted to hear”.
Rock N Roll music created the influence of music being more intense and making it more emotionally strong for the person hearing it. Although not everyone was a fan of this music, it did create a psychological impact with wildly kinetic rhythm, intense beats, and exceptionally outstanding music for the era. Rock music felt more alive which is why it became the center of attention during a friend’s meetup. Many clubs also started playing Rock music for being demanded too much by the people.
High Spending on Records
A study showed that towards the end of the 1950s, consumers were spending a hefty sum of $10 billion a year on products specifically being marketed to teenagers. Among the other things that were bought by teens, the Rock N Roll records were also included. Millions of teenagers bought these records. A total sum of $75 million per year was being generated with the sales of rock music and teenagers comprised a major chunk of that. Preferences changed from spending on clothing and other fancy stuff to rock music records. This was yet another influence of Rock music in the 1950s.
Top Rock Singers of the 1950s
If we talk about the earliest rock music, the name of Elvis Presley would always be there simply because he presented the rock music with full energy, sexually provocative performances, and energized interpretations of songs. Since the era was bringing a change in the aspect of racism, there was high success and controversy related to Elvis Presley, both of which were important factors towards the success of his singing career.
Born in 1935, Elvis has been known as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century and known as the King of Rock and Roll by many. His voice was like a black man which made him famous in no time. Presley had his first RCA single released in January 1956 which was the number one hit in the United States. Following this, he had a number of television appearances as well as many other songs being released by him. Elvis has also been a part of the film industry and military services.
Suggested Reading – CBD and Pop Culture.
Antoine Domino Jr. also known as Fats Domino was also one of the pioneers in the Rock N Roll genre. Fats Domino’s songs were released between 1955 and 1960 among which, 11 of them became part of the Top US Pop hits. He had sold more than one million copies of 5 records. His songs were always putting everybody in the groove with a very lively feel.
Fats Domino was so good that even Elvis Presley said that the real king of Rock N Roll was Fats Domino. Presley also said that Domino was a key influence on him. Throughout his career, Domino has sold over 65 million records of which four have been named to the Hall of Fame for their significance. His song “The Fat Man” is regarded as the first rock song with more than 1 million sales. Some of the songs of Fats Domino are still listened to because his rock music gives an aggressive rhythm.
Charles Anderson Berry, simply known as Chuck Berry, was born on October 18, 1926. He became a great American singer and among the first ones to introduce us to Rock N Roll Music. He is nicknamed the “Father of Rock Music”. The most important contribution of Berry towards the industry is that he refined and improved the rhythm and blues in the music-making Rock N Roll more appealing for the listeners. Moreover, he included guitar solos and showmanship in Rock N Roll music.
He has sung many songs including Maybellene, Roll Over Beethoven, Rock and Roll Music, Johnny B. Goode, and others. Berry’s music was directed towards the teens with subjects such as teen life and consumerism being actively discussed. His records have been sold in millions and Maybellene was so successful that it reached number one on Billboard magazine’s rhythm and blues chart. By the end of the 1950s, Berry had become an established star.
Rock N Roll music is popular even today with a mass interest of the people in the concerts. With many new singers coming into the industry and joining the rock genre, we believe that there is going to be even better music in the coming times. However, what many parents still don’t like is the fact that the very rude and explicit language being used in these songs creates a bad influence on the teen listeners and could create a negative impact on the personality as well.