The development of Israeli rock in the 1960s
Israel's initial attitude toward rock music was extremely negative. Israeli musicians of the time believed that it was a trend that would soon pass. The first Israeli rock bands began performing in the mid-1960s in nightclubs and discos, first in Ramla and later on HaMasger Street in Tel Aviv. These bands mainly performed cover versions of popular rock songs by bands like The Beatles and The Shadows. Rock culture, in the social and political sense, was nowhere in sight. Bands that stood out in the first wave of Israeli rock were The Lions, The Churchills, The Fat and the Thins, The Styles, The Electric Stage, The Seventh Radiance, The Goldstars, The Sing-Sing, The Blue Stars and The Spiders.
In the euphoria that followed the Six-Day War, the performing groups of the Israel Defense Forces rose in status with a steady stream of songs about victory, bereavement and loss. Rock became part of the alternative music scene that was played mostly in clubs such as "Hakarish" and "Calypso", formerly known as drug dens.
Near the end of the decade rock and roll gained legitimacy. Western musicians arrived in Israel, and influences of the pop revolution permeated local culture. Some of the local bands added English musicians to their ensemble, thus creating several new bands that were based on the original rhythm bands. In the second wave of rhythm bands, three main bands led the local rock scene. The first was The Churchills, which consisted of five musicians including Canadian singer Stan Solomon, and British guitarist Robb Huxley. These Israeli rock bands were most adventurous: they played innovative combinations of psychedelic rock mixed with Mediterranean Arab music. In 1970 the Israeli composer Noam Sheriff initiated a concert played by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and The Churchills, and their shared work with Arik Einstein, Oshik Levi and other artists from the mainstream Israeli pop music scene granted the Israeli rock scene a public stamp of approval.
The second band, The Lions, was considered to be the first Israeli band to experiment with reggae music. In 1968 The Lions became the first Israeli band to insert a song at the top of the British charts ("Our Love's a Growing Thing").
The third prominent Israeli band of those years was the supergroup Uzi and the Styles, which the former lead singer of The Fat and the Thins, Uzi Fox, created. The band's varied style was derived from British pop and American soul music and was characterized by the compound-rich processings of wind instruments that resembled Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago, etc.
Between the 1960s and the 1970s, successful Israeli musicians showed interest in rock music, and many of them recorded songs in the rock style by themselves or with bands. Popular singer Arik Einstein most adopted rock as a dominant force in Israeli music by in 1969 making The Churchills his backup group. Einstein's albums from those years, Pozi (1969), slug (1970), Plastelina (1970) and Badshe etzel Avigdor (1971) are considered to have novelly combined rock melodies with Hebrew texts. They demonstrated fresh musical perception and created more personal mainstream songs rather than those of the military bands that dominated the previous decade.
Israel had a burgeoning progressive rock scene. One of the first performers was Shlomo Gronich, whose 1971 debut was Why Didn't You Tell Me?. Danny Ben Israel Bullshit 3¼, which was released in 1970 and promptly forgotten for some thirty years preceded it. Other 70s prog bands included The Churchills, Zingale, and Sheshet.
Israel also developed Oriental metal, which is a new style of rock/metal named that combined death metal and doom metal, influenced by ancient Jewish traditions and the oriental culture both in lyrics and melody.
Many bands formed. The rock band Tamouz greatly succeeded. The then most successful Israeli Rock band was Kaveret which combined rock music and a unique sense of humor. At decade's end, rock singers became very popular and successful: Shalom Hanoch, Ariel Zilber, Tzvika Pick (in combination with pop music), Efraim Shamir, Yitzhak Klepter and Gary Ackstein.
Few rock bands became popular. Notable rock bands of the decade were The Click, Benzin, T-Slam, and Mashina which became the most successful Israeli rock band of the decade and performed until 1995, when they disbanded; in 2005 they reformed due to popular demand.
In 1991 Israeli alternative rock bands and singers broke through, led by Rami Fortis, Berry Sakharof and Aviv Geffen, and young bands like Eifo HaYeled, The Elders of Zfat, Rockfour and Dr. Kasper's Rabbits Show who became very popular. The former Roxanne club in Tel Aviv hosted known artists and emerging artists of rock and alternative rock, quickly exposing new bands, and cultivated a listener audience for those music styles. Most of those bands have disbanded, and their members comprise most of Israeli musical community.
Notable in the field of Glam metal and Heavy metal was the band "Stella Maris" from Haifa, which began performing in the early 1990s. Stella Maris later integrated in the mainstream Israeli music scene and its vocalist, Pavlo Rosenberg, launched a solo career of his own.
Despite such crises and low points as the Arad festival disaster of 1995, whereafter the popularity of these events descended, during the next decade Israeli rock music became the central and most acceptable music style, and such important bands as The witches and Monica Sex formed.
2000s until today
Israeli Rock became less popular, and Israeli Pop mostly replaced it. Many new rock artists and bands emerged. Among the most prominent Israel rock bands of the 2000s are Beit HaBubot, which plays melodic rock that focuses on acoustic guitar, and Synergia, which has a melodic nu metal sound. Among the other successful emerging Israeli rock bands and artists of this decade are: Girafot, Sheygets, HaYehudim, Yoni Bloch, Hadag Nahash, Shy Nobleman and many more.
At decade's end Mizrahi music gained massive popularity in Israel, further weakening the popularity of Israeli rock.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rock music groups from Israel.|
- List of Israeli rock singers
- List of Israeli rock music groups
- Rock Mizrahi
- Music of Israel
- List of Israeli musical artists