When Rock Music Started

Rock music emerged as a form of popular music catering specifically to young people, while most other styles were targeted toward adults and enjoyed in venues like bars or juke joints.

Over a century of musical cross-pollination had already taken place, producing new forms such as western swing, jazz and rhythm and blues.

The 1950s

At its onset, rock music adapted and evolved alongside changing cultural attitudes and values. It often served as an antidote for older styles that seemed overdone or tired; and many early bands attempted to communicate social messages often linked with youth issues or protest movements such as Paul Revere and the Raiders’ “Kicks”, while Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”, targeted suburban materialism; rhythm and blues artists Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters brought more spiritual, haunting sounds into their music than earlier rock artists did.

Rock’s origin can generally be traced to the convergence of two musical genres, Rhythm and blues and Country, post World War II. Both forms had been evolving alongside migration from rural areas, radio broadcasting technology advancement, and the emergence of new musical forms such as Rock ‘n Roll. DJs such as Alan Freed in Cleveland Ohio and Dewey Phillips from Memphis Tennessee helped drive this evolution through hard-driving rhythm and blues recordings as well as more raunchy blues recordings which attracted white teenagers who appreciated these types of music recordings which they broadcasted often for white teenagers to listeners who wanted something new besides Country or R n B records – an evolution which led them into rock ‘n Roll music genre!

In the 1950s, rock music spread and gained international appeal. Regularly featured on pop charts, rock soon began influencing movies, television shows, fashion, language and even slang – although initially dismissed as just another musical trend it eventually emerged as one of the primary forms of popular music.

The 1960s was an eventful decade that witnessed the dawn of counterculture. Youth were seeking ways to break free from conformity of 1950s society and find their own form of expression, including using drugs to add a psychedelic, hallucinogenic flavour to rock music such as Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band from The Beatles or Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma from Pink Floyd – two milestones in rock history that continue to influence today.

The ’60s

Rock exploded during the ’60s as Baby Boomers took an interest in it. As more Baby Boomers discovered and appreciated rock music, its influence spread into culture at large – something we still feel today. Keyboards and synthesizers were introduced into music production to produce more complex harmonic and interesting sounds which broadened rock’s musical spectrum even further.

Though some experts argue that rock music began in the 1940s, its true beginning came during this decade when artists like Chuck Berry and Little Richard began incorporating rhythm and blues elements into their songs, producing an electrifying sound which soon caught audiences’ imaginations. Elvis Presley further contributed to its rise thanks to his hip gyrations and scandalous dance moves which cemented its cultural impactful status and image as cultural icons.

By the end of this decade, it became apparent that rock was here to stay. It quickly transformed into an international musical movement as evidenced by bands like The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, events like Woodstock and Altamont and social transformation; rock music’s powerful lyrics and rebellious themes helped reflect that change.

At this time of cultural upheaval, many African-American musicians found themselves marginalized from the industry while white artists dominated. This trend can be linked to postwar permissiveness and increased spending power; consequently African-American musicians found themselves performing only at clubs with predominantly white crowds of teenagers.

The ’70s

Rock’s introduction into society emerged at a time of immense social upheaval. While Frank Sinatra still held onto some popularity, an antiwar protest movement had emerged and civil rights, hippie culture, and anarchy protesters needed an outlet for their frustrations and desire for liberation. Rock provided this soundtrack.

Rock music quickly rose in popularity with the rise of Elvis, Little Richard and Bill Haley & The Comets. Early styles were inspired by blues music with electric guitars and backbeat. Chuck Berry revolutionized rock with his rhythm-and-blues inspired style; eventually this genre went global thanks to the British Invasion phenomenon.

Bands such as The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd expanded the genre’s boundaries through psychedelic elements and intricate arrangements. Furthermore, these bands began creating concept albums which could be understood in one sitting; an idea which later gave rise to modern rock opera.

By the late ’60s, rock had grown into an immense musical force with tours bringing thousands of listeners into stadiums and arenas. Bands also began using rock songs to advocate for causes or activism through them – such as “Kicks” by Paul Revere and the Raiders criticizing drug culture or “Pleaant Valley Sunday” by The Monkees attacking suburban materialism.

By the late ’70s, early styles had begun to show signs of fatigue and new subgenres began to emerge. Punk rock introduced an aggressive sound to rock music and helped fuel its subsequent punk movement; heavy metal and grunge gave rock an even harder edge; disco and glam rock brought it back into mainstream culture;

The ’80s

In the ’80s, rock music evolved into what we now refer to as pop punk and hardcore. This form featured more aggressive rhythmic styles using electronic instruments, heavy percussion, chord changes to make the sound faster, as well as electronic elements like heavy bass guitar. It became especially popular with younger audiences. Meanwhile, other new musical genres took influence from rock like grunge and new wave and were driven by similar spirit of change and individualism as in its early years.

By the 1990s, rock had gained international appeal and established itself as the dominant form of popular music. Its appeal lay in its youth-centric nature; teenagers were the primary consumer block. Furthermore, unlike classic country and folk which catered exclusively to minority interests; rock could be found throughout all stores, radio broadcasts, television programs, etc.

Rock was also profoundly democratic; any youngster with enough savings to purchase a guitar and find three or four like-minded peers was capable of starting his or her own band. Rock became the music of choice among those tired of Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, and Connie Francis’ fads.

Similarly, the 1960s witnessed the birth of a counterculture movement which championed civil rights, women’s rights, environmentalism and other progressive social issues. This had an immense influence on musical culture; John Lennon used his fame to advocate peace between cultures through song. Meanwhile, there was Vietnam War – its coverage sparking outrage and prompting middle class parents to worry that rock music had corrupted their children.

The ’90s

Rock music has long been a powerful form of protest. From antiwar activism by groups such as the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, to political engagements from bands like Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine, its voice has been used to address issues of war, poverty, environmentalism, civil rights and feminism – among many others. The 1960s witnessed many political and social engagements taking shape within music from that era.

Progressive rock gained significant prominence during the ’70s as bands like Pink Floyd and Yes elevated its musical sophistication and experimentation to new levels of musical sophistication and experimentation. Organs and synthesizers were used alongside more conventional rock instruments like guitar and bass; rock and roll also become more international; groups like The Cars and Duran Duran took inspiration from foreign influences like reggae to bring new sounds into rock n roll music.

By the 1980s, rock music had developed into various subgenres targeted toward specific demographics. Joni Mitchell’s music appealed particularly strongly to college-educated professionals; Fleetwood Mac and Eagles appealed to middle-class hedonism; while heavy metal’s testosterone-filled sound made it the go-to music for teenage boys and blue-collar postadolescents.

As the ’90s began, however, these subgenres also started to lose steam. Limp Bizkit capitalized on grunge’s success by mixing hard rock with rap to form “rap-rock,” but ultimately this subgenre lost its mojo; it had become more about style than substance and many fans became bored with spandex-clad acts such as Warrant and Whitesnake.