Rock and roll (often written as rock & roll or rock 'n' roll) is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of the blues, country music and gospel music. Though elements of rock and roll can be heard in country records of the 1930s, and in blues records from the 1920s, rock and roll did not acquire its name until the 1950s. An early form of rock and roll was rockabilly, which combined country and jazz with influences from traditional Appalachian folk music and gospel.
The term "rock and roll" now has at least two different meanings, both in common usage. The American Heritage Dictionaryand the Merriam-Webster Dictionary both define rock and roll as synonymous with rock music. Allwords.com, however, refers specifically to the music of the 1950s. For the purpose of differentiation, this article uses the latter definition, while the broader musical genre is discussed in the rock music article.
In the earliest rock and roll styles of the late 1940s and early 1950s, either the piano or saxophone was often the lead instrument, but these were generally replaced or supplemented by guitar in the middle to late 1950s. Classic rock and roll is usually played with one or two electric guitars (one lead, one rhythm), a string bass or (after the mid-1950s) an electric bass guitar, and a drum kit.
Rock and roll began achieving wide popularity in the 1960s. The massive popularity and eventual worldwide view of rock and roll gave it a widespread social impact. Bobby Gillespie writes that "When Chuck Berry sang "Hail, hail, rock and roll, deliver me from the days of old", that's exactly what the music was doing. Chuck Berry started the global psychic jailbreak that is rock'n'roll."
Progressive rock (sometimes shortened to prog rock, prog, or progrock) is a subgenre of rock music which arose in the late 1960s, reached the peak of its popularity in the 1970s, and continues as a musical form to this day.
Progressive rock artists reject the limitations of popular music and aspire to create music for serious listening, often aspiring to the sophistication of jazz and classical music, sometimes incorporating folk and world music influences in as well.
It is musical dynamics, as well as the virtuosity of the musicians, which most distinguishes progressive rock. As with its counterpart, progressive jazz, progressive rock is very much a musician's form of music, designed to be analyzed, studied and appreciated by knowledgeable listeners, as opposed to many other types of rock music. Although many progressive rock artists have enjoyed phenomenal success, progressive rock is by no means a casual form of music, and by nature appeals to a more specialized set of listeners than the broad target audiences of pop music.
The major acts that defined the genre in the 1970s are Jethro Tull, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Rush, Gentle Giant and King Crimson.
The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960 and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. From 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals) and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals). Rooted in skiffle and 1950s rock and roll, the group later worked in many genres ranging from folk rock to psychedelic pop, often incorporating classical and other elements in innovative ways. The nature of their enormous popularity, which first emerged as the "Beatlemania" fad, transformed as their songwriting grew in sophistication. The group came to be perceived as the embodiment of progressive ideals, seeing their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.
With an early five-piece line-up of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe (bass) and Pete Best (drums), The Beatles built their reputation in Liverpool and Hamburg clubs over a three-year period from 1960. Sutcliffe left the group in 1961, and Best was replaced by Starr the following year. Moulded into a professional outfit by music store owner Brian Epstein after he offered to act as the group's manager, and with their musical potential enhanced by the hands-on creativity of producer George Martin, The Beatles achieved UK mainstream success in late 1962 with their first single, "Love Me Do". Gaining international popularity over the course of the next year, they toured extensively until 1966, then retreated to the recording studio until their breakup in 1970. Each then found success in an independent musical career. McCartney and Starr remain active; Lennon was shot and killed in 1980, and Harrison died of cancer in 2001.
During their studio years, The Beatles produced what critics consider some of their finest material, including the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), widely regarded as a masterpiece. Nearly four decades after their breakup, The Beatles' music continues to be popular. The Beatles have had more number one albums on the UK charts, and held down the top spot longer, than any other musical act. According to RIAA certifications, they have sold more albums in the US than any other artist. In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list of the all-time top-selling Hot 100 artists to celebrate the US singles chart's fiftieth anniversary, with The Beatles at number one. They have been honoured with 7 Grammy Awards, and they have received 15 Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. The Beatles were collectively included in Time magazine's compilation of the 20th century's 100 most important and influential people.
There is much debate as to what should be considered the first rock & roll record. According to some experts, a leading contender is "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (in fact, Ike Turner and his band The Kings of Rhythm), recorded by Sam Phillips for Sun Records on March 5, 1951 and released in April, which came at Number one in June, for 5 weeks, but only on the Billboard magazine's R&B charts (Black music).
Three years later, Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock", recorded on April 12, 1954, released on May 12 and reissued next year, on May 13, 1955, became the first rock and roll song to top Billboard main sales and airplay charts, on July 9, 1955 and opened the door worldwide for this new wave of popular culture.
Rolling Stone magazine argued in 2004 that "That's All Right (Mama)", Elvis Presley's first single for Sun, recorded and released in July 1954, was the first rock and roll record. But it did not chart at all whilst, at the same time, Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle & Roll", recorded on Feb. 15, 1954 and released in April by Atlantic, was already at the top of the Billboard R&B charts.
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