Early rock’n’roll was a combination of several different musical genres that already existed, with a faster beat.
Young people in the 1950’s (just after World War 2) began to identify as “teenagers” – a word which had never been used before! • Teens were looking for a new culture. They wanted to be different from their parents. • Rock’n’roll was music for the teenagers of the 1950’s – in other words, the BABY BOOMERS. Your grandparents were cool!
Rock’n’roll music typically has: • A strong beat • Simple chord progressions • Light-hearted lyrics with positive, popular themes • A lead vocal line, backed by guitars, string or electric bass, drums & sometimes piano. • Early rock’n’roll groups sometimes featured a saxophone. Pictured: Bill Haley & His Comets
FAMOUS ROCK’N’ROLL MUSICIANS Click on the pictures to learn about these musicians FAMOUS ROCK’N’ROLL MUSICIANS Elvis Presley Little Richard Chuck Berry Ritchie Valens Jerry Lee Lewis Buddy Holly
Chuck Berry Born: 18th October 1926 Major Hits: “Maybellene”, “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Rock and Roll Music”, “Johnny B. Goode” • One of the first internationally successful African-American musicians in rock’n’roll. • Famous for his ‘guitar duck hop’. • Arrested in 1959. Click here to find out more about Chuck Berry: http://foglobe.com/chuck-berry.html Click here to listen to “Johnny B. Goode”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNeEb7I3bwI
Elvis Presley 8th January 1935 – 16th August 1977 Major Hits: “Hound Dog”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Love Me Tender”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “Heartbreak Hotel” • Successful due to being ‘a white man who had the Negro sound’. (Sam Phillips, Sun Records) • Famous for his provocative dance moves. • Referred to as the ‘King of Rock and Roll’. • Joined the army in 1958. Click here to find out more about Elvis Presley: http://www.elvis.com/about-the-king/biography_.aspx Click here to listen to “Hound Dog”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzQ8GDBA8Is
Little Richard Born: 5th December 1932 Major Hits: “Tutti Frutti”, “Long Tall Sally”, “Ready Teddy”, “Lucille” • Sang in church from a young age. • Attracted mixed race audiences, breaking down the segregation between black and white people. • Retired and became a preacher in 1957. Click here to find out more about Little Richard: http://foglobe.com/little-richard.html Click here to listen to “Tutti Frutti”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFq5O2kabQo
Ritchie Valens 13th May 1941 – 3rd February 1959 Major Hits: “La Bamba”, “Donna”, “Come On, Let’s Go” • Grew up listening to traditional Mexican music, R&B and blues. • Played guitar, trumpet & drums. • Pioneered Latin rock. • Died age 17 in a freak plane accident that also killed musicians Buddy Holly & J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. The crash was nicknamed ‘The Day the Music Died’. Click here to find out more about Ritchie Valens: http://www.last.fm/music/Ritchie+Valens Click here to listen to “La Bamba”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCXlp3D5NQA
Jerry Lee Lewis Born: 29th September 1935 Major Hits: “Great Balls of Fire”, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On”, “Breathless”, “High School Confidential” • Known as rock’n’roll’s ‘first great wild man’ due to his dramatic & unpredictable performance antics. • Caused a scandal in 1958 when it was discovered he had married his 13-year-old cousin. His career never fully recovered after the scandal publicity. Click here to find out more about Jerry Lee Lewis: http://www.last.fm/music/Jerry+Lee+Lewis Click here to listen to “Great Balls of Fire”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IjgZGhHrYY
Buddy Holly 7th September 1936 – 3rd February 1959 Major Hits: “That’ll Be The Day”, “Peggy Sue”, “Oh Boy!”, “True Love Ways” • Signed two recording contracts at once; one as a soloist, and one with his band, ‘The Crickets’. • Influenced the Beatles, who in part chose their name to reflect the Crickets. • Died age 23 in a freak plane accident that also killed musicians Ritchie Valens & J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. The crash was nicknamed ‘The Day the Music Died’. Click here to find out more about Buddy Holly: http://foglobe.com/buddy-holly.html Click here to listen to “Peggy Sue”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb7KyPSbFqo
The Decline of Rock’n’Roll The “rock’n’roll” culture ended very quickly, with most of the style’s key figures leaving the scene within a time frame of two years. • On ‘The Day the Music Died’ in 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens & J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash. • Elvis Presley left music to join the army in 1958. • Little Richard retired in 1957 to become a preacher. • The scandal over Jerry Lee Lewis’ marriage to his underage cousin destroyed his career in 1958. • Chuck Berry was imprisoned in 1958. • Alan Freed (rock’n’roll’s most important record promoter) was discovered to have been taking bribes and the scandal ruined his career.