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Elvis and Rockabilly. Bill Haley and the Comets. Haley from Western swing tradition Some success with cover of Rocket 88 Renamed band “the Comets” Starts performing R&B covers Hits with Rock Around the Clock For most of song, fast shuffle rhythm

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bill haley and the comets
Bill Haley and the Comets
  • Haley from Western swing tradition
  • Some success with cover of Rocket 88
    • Renamed band “the Comets”
    • Starts performing R&B covers
  • Hits with Rock Around the Clock
    • For most of song, fast shuffle rhythm
    • Occasionally beat evens out, esp. during guitar solos
bill haley and the comets1
Bill Haley and the Comets
  • Style combination of Western swing, boogie-woogie, and R&B
  • Not a huge impact in this country, but in England, bigger than Elvis
    • Starts English teens singing rock and roll
  • Strong crossover appeal
  • Frequently involves mixture of styles
  • Most defined by strong rhythmic activity
  • Descended from swing jazz
    • Stripped down instrumentation: 2-3 horns + percussion section
    • Plus a blues shouter – male vocalist with strong, supported blues voice
  • Up-tempo numbers with boogie-woogie feel
  • Riff-based accompaniments
    • Rough, “honking” instrumental timbres
  • Four- or eight-beat style beat
  • “Slice of life” vignettes
  • Showmanship important
  • “Father of rhythm and blues”
    • Showman, comic, and bandleader
  • Ex. Choo-Choo-Ch-Boogie
    • Shuffle style beat
    • Boogie-woogie walking bass
    • Riff-based
    • Verse/chorus blues form
      • Verse = 12 bar blues
      • Refrain = 8 bar blues
  • Country blues carried north to cities
  • New style starts to develop in Chicago
    • Drums, bass, harmonica and/or piano added to singer+guitars
    • Role of each instrument specified
  • Forms:
    • 12 or 16 bar (aaab) blues
    • blues verse/chorus
  • Often riff-based
  • Strong rhythm section
  • Amplification used
  • Aggressive and extroverted: shouted vocals, hard timekeeping
  • Major influence on urban blues
  • Ex. Hoochie Coochie Man
    • Waters (guitar), piano, bass, harmonica
    • Verse/Chorus blues form
      • 16 bar blues; first 8 verse, 2nd 8 chorus
    • Stop time: 1 1/2 beat riff, 2 1/2 beats for vocals
    • Dense textures
    • Shuffle rhythms
  • Afro-Cuban influences prominent in New Orleans R&B
  • Major influence: Professor Longhair (Roy Byrd)
  • Walking bass
  • Boogie-woogie piano
  • Shuffle rhythm
  • PLUS “reverse” clave rhythm

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

X X X X X X X X X X

rather than…

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

X X X X X

  • Influenced by Professor Longhair and Latin-flavored boogie-woogie
  • Signature characteristic - fast, even triplets
  • Laid-back style
  • Ex. Mardi Gras in New Orleans
    • Dense textures, often polyrhythmic as well
    • Clave rhythm
    • 12-bar blues
elvis presley
Elvis Presley
  • Is most of Elvis’ music rock and roll?
    • Jailhouse Rock?
    • Mystery Train?
    • Hound Dog?
    • All Shook Up?
elvis presley1
Elvis Presley
  • Regardless of beat structure, Elvis is rock and roll ---
  • Figure though which R&B/rock and roll reaches large white audience
elvis presley 1935 1977
Elvis Presley (1935-1977)
  • Born Tupelo, Mississippi into poor family
  • Begins playing guitar age 11
      • Influences: Muddy Waters, Jimmie Rodgers
  • Moves to Memphis 1948, absorbs blues, R&B scene
  • Early 1954 goes into Sun studios to record demo
elvis presley 1935 19771
Elvis Presley (1935-1977)
  • Early 1954 goes into Sun studios to record demo
  • Second session records That’s All Right Mama and Blue Moon of Kentucky
  • By August featured on Grand Old Opry
  • August 1956 TV appearances make a sensation
elvis major influences
Elvis - Major Influences
  • Brings huge number of vocal styles into rock and roll
  • Persona in which country and R&B, black and white cultures mesh
  • Style combination of honky-tonk, Western swing, R&B, with unique vocal style
  • Creates sub-genre of rock and roll = rockabilly
rockabilly
Rockabilly
  • Combination of country and R&B, but with more weight on the country elements
  • Less blues influence on vocal style than Berry, Little Richard
    • Rather, hiccups, stutters
    • vibrato (quavery) vocal effects
  • Fast, nervous tempos of bluegrass
rockabilly1
Rockabilly
  • Combination of country and R&B, but with more weight on the country elements
  • Less blues influence on vocal style than Berry, Little Richard
  • Accented backbeat, but even beats of country music
rockabilly2
Rockabilly
  • “rock” or “honky-tonk” instrumentation
    • lead electric guitar
    • acoustic rhythm guitar
    • string bass
    • drums
  • songs from R&B repertoire, or in similar style
carl perkins 1932 1998
Carl Perkins (1932-1998)
  • Born rural Tennessee
  • Working as country singer when heard Elvis on radio
  • Decided to pattern style after Elvis
  • Went to Sun records, auditioned for Sam Phillips
  • First record - Blues Suede Shoes - major hit
blue suede shoes
Blue Suede Shoes
  • Country influences audible
  • But heavy doses of blues as well
    • Stop time
    • guitar style
    • riff-based
buddy holly 1936 1959
Buddy Holly (1936-1959)
  • Born Lubbock, TX
  • Formed Western swing band in high school; worked as back-up band for Bill Haley
  • Models vocal style after Elvis after meeting at gigs
  • First recording, in 1956, unsuccessful
buddy holly 1936 19591
Buddy Holly (1936-1959)
  • That’ll Be The Day a hit in 1957
  • Rapid string of seven hit records with band The Crickets
  • Killed in plane crash in 1959 - “The Day The Music Died”
buddy holly style
Buddy Holly - style
  • Equal parts of country, R&B, and rock and roll
    • Guitar style: R&B influenced
    • Vocal style: country + Elvis
    • Musical forms, Chuck Berry-influenced lyrics: rock and roll
  • Compositions most sophisticated of early rock artists
not fade away
Not Fade Away
  • Riff-based, but combines with stop time
  • Stuttering vocal style
  • Multiple rhythmic layers
    • beat
    • style beat
    • Bo Diddley beat
    • backbeat
well all right
Well…All Right
  • Very different style - more pop oriented
  • Verse/refrain, with weight on verses
  • Forward-looking: Blind Faith records a decade later
jerry lee lewis 1935
Jerry Lee Lewis (1935- )
  • Born Ferriday, Louisiana
  • Primary influences - boogie-woogie piano, New Orleans R&B style of Professor Longhair
  • Often categorized as rockabilly, but more in common with Little Richard
great balls of fire
Great Balls of Fire
  • Percussive, boogie-woogie piano style
    • With addition of glissandos, triplets of New Orleans style
  • Frantic performing style
  • Honky-tonk/hillbilly vocals
  • Blatantly sexual lyrics
everly brothers don 1937 and phil 1938
Everly Brothers (Don 1937 - and Phil 1938 - )
  • Born into family of country musicians
  • Parents ran radio station in Iowa, so heard and performed everything
  • Earliest recordings for Candice label in Nashville
everly brothers style
Everly Brothers - Style
  • “Old-Timey” vocal harmony in thirds
  • High tenor range - influence from blues and gospel
  • “rock” instrumentation + piano
  • catchy melody lines
  • gentle rock timekeeping
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