Rock and Roll - The birth of rock music
Rock and roll like all genres has almost as many definitions as it has fans. Rock and Roll generally refers to rock music recorded around the 1950s including mostly southern artists like Bill Haley and Elvis Presley. Rock generally is used to refer to any popular rock music recorded since the early 60's.The word rocking was first used by gospel singers in the South as a slang term for spiritual rapture. A double meaning became evident in 1947 blues artist Roy Brown's song Good Rocking Tonight which he claimed was about dancing was in fact a synonym for sex. Rock music much like blues was limited to jukeboxes and racially mixed clubs and apparently censors were fooled allowing the song to later be played on the radio to huge success.
Many other blues artists followed suit including Wild Bill Moore who recorded a song called rock and roll in 1949. Since rock and roll albums were only sold in racially mixed music stores very few white audiences had heard of them. In 1951 disc jockey Alan Freed of Cleveland Ohio begin playing rock and roll for his mostly white audience and it soon became a national phenomenon which would eventually envelop the world.
Rock and Roll usually combines a vocalist, an acoustic drum kit played with a strong beat, usually a back beat and features electric guitars, acoustic guitars or saxophone. Blues records of the 20s were the inspiration for much of the early rock and roll sound. Early artists combined jump blues, boogie woogie, r&b, jazz, and gospel music to form a new genre that would become a driving force in music for the next 50 years and beyond.
According to music historian Peter Guralnick the first rock and roll artist was by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats who recorded Rocket 88 for the Sun Records label in 1951. The first to achieve commercial success with white audiences were Chuck Berry's with Maybellene and Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets. Fats Domino recorded blues songs in 1949 that to most are indistinguishable from rock and roll combining the same influences that will be later cited as the ones that gave birth to rock and roll. Racial tensions in the United States were high in the early 50's as African Americans protested segregation and other mistreatment. The "separate but equal" rule of law was overturned in 1954 allowing for free coexistence of all races and laying the foundation for a genre of music which would combine white and black musical genres into one of the most controversial music styles ever. A style which had parents in the 50' cringing in fear, rock and roll.
Despite the efforts of Alan Freed and early rock and roll bands what had been labeled as "black music" by critics was still to controversial drawing protests from some very conservative or racially biased whites. From the beginning the style was attacked as being too overtly sexual which only seemed to fuel the interest in the style.
White performers began to be hired to record and play the songs often doing a poor job. Still the music began to take hold with fans as white owned stations began to play the music. Artist Pat Boone recorded versions of Little Richard songs while Ricky Nelson recorded Fats Domino tunes. As the songs became popular producers would re-release the original recording often without paying the original artist a dime. On March 21, 1952 in Cleveland Ohio Alan Freed orchestrated the first rock and roll concert. The audience and the performers were racially mixed and after one song thousands of fans broke into the sold out venue causing the show to be shut down but the die was cast for rock to become the driving force in music.
In 1954 Elvis Presley would come into Sun Records with a request to record a record for his mother. Stunned by his sheer raw talent owner Sam Phillips asked Elvis to record with professional musicians. Elvis' first record released for Phillips' Sun Records was called That's All Right Mama. It became a huge hit and propelled Elvis into history as the first true rock and roll star. Rock and roll inspired more genres than any other style of music to date. To learn more about the movement click here to go back to the main page and discover the many faces of rock.
Thank you for your interest in Silver Dragon Records. Below is some information on our record label and website catering to rock musicians.
Silver Dragon Records presents recording artist Lazarus X and solo album Weapon of Love. Lazarus X's determined honest rock combined with haunting and soulful melodies struck a chord with many rock music fans. Some fans received a preview of the publicity photos and album at a rooftop listening party a day before it is released and the response was amazing. Lazarus X has a long and interesting history in the local Houston scene. His interview was well received by fans and is available here. Part 1 - Part 2 - The strong vocal harmonies and dark ominous guitars layered with very powerful and accessible melodies and energetic bursts of Laz's 7 string make for a wild and interesting ride. The lyrics are very moving, at times dark and at others very inspiring and insightful. Check out Lazarus X merchandise like tour and WOL T-shirts or preview one of Laz's songs by downloading a free mp3. Also stay tuned for more cool content.