Underground History: Rock and Roll


Courtesy of mirror.co.uk

Elvis Presley was prominent during the 1950s rock and roll scene

Jocelynne Dorotan, For Eastside

The world’s music industry certainly “rock and rolled” when one of the most popular genres of music emerged in the mid-twentieth century.

Rock and roll, also recognized as rock & roll or rock ‘n’ roll, arose in the 1950s and originated in the United States as the first wave of music. Now recognized as rock music, this style of music was based on certain African American genres such as blues, boogie-woogie, jump blues, jazz and gospel music, along with Western swing and country music. In the earliest days of rock and roll, either a piano or saxophone would serve as the lead instrument. The guitar later replaced these lead instruments in the late 1950s.

Many significant bands and artists surfaced during this time period, such as Frankie Laine, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, band leaders Mitch Miller and Percy Faith among others. These artists had dominated the music charts and today have an everlasting impact on music.

Rock and roll proved and continues to prove its importance to society as it greatly affects other kinds of music and its outreach to the people of the era. Its impact helped set a trend for pop music and influenced other styles of music, such as hip-hop and neo-soul. Rock and roll music helped to promote the ideas of originality, self-expression and free thought. Through their music, artists were able to comment on the political issues, influence the thoughts of society and unite the communities of the United States. Rock and roll strengthened America’s society by helping black artists gain popularity and respect, thus promoting racial equality throughout the United States.

Not only did rock and roll music significantly affect the United States, but it also influenced international cultures, especially those in Europe. In England, several youth sub-cultures emerged and trad jazz became popular, due to the artists’ influence from American styles. The popularity of rock and roll inspired many European musicians, including the Quarrymen, also known as The Beatles.

Rock and roll served as a significant time period from the twentieth century, and it continues to rock the charts in music today.