History of rock and roll

Essay by Erik March 1997

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Rock and Roll started after the year 1955 with its roots being in Blues, Gospel,

and Jazz. This influenced vocal music, which was popular with the African American

population. Hep Harmony which added rhythm and harmony was sung by groups such as

The 'Mills Brothers' and the 'Ink Spots'.

Small Swing Bands or Jump Bands featured saxophone soloists and repeated

phrases. These city style blues featured singers such as Joe Turner, Dina Washington, T-

Bone Walker, and composer-singer Percy Mayfield.

During this era, country blues traditions of the south became influential in the

North as well. Blacks moved from the South to the North and Chicago became the center

of blues recordings. This emphasized electric guitars, harmonicas, and drummers who

emphasized after beats (beats 2 and 4 of the measure). Black gospel music was very

popular and given the label of rhythm and blues (R&B). This music was carried on radio

and popular with the disc jockeys.

In the mid 50's, Chuck Berry and Little Richard were popular and changed the

face of music, which was named rock and roll by the D.J.'s.

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At age 21, in 1956, Elvis Presley was introduced to the public with his rockabilly

style of music. His first record, 'Heartbreak Hotel' was recorded. It was the first of a

consecutive 14 records to sell over one million copies.

He inspired other country singers to sing rock and roll. This started a trend for

'cover' recordings. This was when white singers simplified versions of Black recorded

songs. White singers were played on more radio stations and became very popular.

Young listeners became their largest audience. Young singers were hired to record

songs featuring adolescent issues. 'Young Love', '16 Candles', and 'Teenage

Crush'. Such singers as Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee...