Elvis and rockabilly
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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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Elvis and Rockabilly

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Elvis and rockabilly

Elvis and Rockabilly


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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