Rock N' Roll

Rock and Roll History

The Birth of Rock and Roll

1950 - 1959

In the early 1950's the American Pop Charts are dominated by the remnants of the big band era including vocalists such as Doris Day, Frankie Lane, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney and Nat King Cole, along with band leaders Mitch Miller, Percy Faith and others. The Rhythm & Blues Charts feature African-American artists playing to a predominately African-American audience in urban centers and the south. Cleveland, Ohio radio Disc Jockey Alan Freed is an exception with his "Moondog Show" where he spins up-tempo rhythm & blues hits, but aims his show beyond the traditional African-American audience for R&B and gains a wide audience of both white and black teenagers. Freed eventually names this cross-current of musical styles and influences - electric blues, boogie, jazz, gospel, R&B vocal groups and country - "Rock and Roll".

Expanding The Boundaries of Rock

1960 - 1969

In the sixties rock music comes of age and dominates the popular music charts. Elvis Presley continues to score hits in the early part of the decade, but the music continues to diversify with the folk revival, the Brill Building sound, Phil Spector's wall of sound, girl groups and surf music, all impacting the early part of the decade. The Motown, Stax and Atlantic labels bring more african-american artists back to the forefront of the pop charts. By 1964 American artists are sharing the top of the charts with U.K. bands led by the Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In the U.S. garage bands emerge, inspired by the British Invasion sound.

Rock Becomes Big Buisness

1970 - 1979

The Beatles break up in 1970, but all four members continue to impact the decade with successful solo careers. The early seventies are marked by the deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison who all die at the age of 27. Pyschedelic music declines, but morphs into hard rock, progressive rock and heavy metal. Touring bands move from playing clubs and theaters, to playing sports arenas. Big time bands, many of them formed in the '60's, such as the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who, Grand Funk and Led Zeppelin travel in private jets and play to thousands in arenas and outdoor stadiums.

CD's, Synths, and the Rise of MTV

1980 - 1989

John Lennon is shot to death by a fan in 1980 just as he was coming back into the public eye with a new album. MTV (Music Television) is launched on 300 U.S. cable TV systems in 1981. By 1983 MTV is available on 2,000 cable systems. VH1 is launched in 1984 with a more classic rock format. The prevalance of music videos as a 24/7 marketing tool is influential in bringing numerous new bands and music styles into the mainstream, including a resurgence in heavy metal, the emergence of synthpop, new wave, rap and hip hop. The number of successful female artists, across many genres, is reflected in singles and album sales.

The Internet and Digital Music

1990 - 1999

Alternative Rock and it's sub-genres Grunge and Pop Punk expand in popularity and ironically, explode into the mainstream during the 1990's. Major labels begin luring independent bands away from small record labels. These artists are resistant to the demands of big record companies and unwilling to change styles to reach a mass market audience. Nevertheless, many alternative bands, including REM, The Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Smiths and grunge bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and others find success with mainstream audiences.

Rock and Roll Artists of the 50's

Lead Belly

January 20, 1888 - December 6, 1949

Bing Crosby

May 3, 1903 - October 14, 1977

Big Joe Turner

May 18, 1911 - November 24, 1985

Willie Dixon

July 1, 1915 - January 29, 1992

Dean Martin

June 7, 1917 - December 25, 1995

Johnny Otis

December 28, 1921 - January 17, 2012

Chet Atkins

June 20, 1924 - June 30, 2001

Roy Brown

September 10, 1925 - May 25, 1981

Marty Robbins

September 26, 1925 - December 8, 1982

Chuck Berry

October 18, 1926 - Present

Johnnie Ray

January 10, 1927 - February 24, 1990

Hank Ballard

November 18, 1927 - March 2, 2003

Carl Perkins

August 16, 1928 - March 17, 1958

Bo Diddley

December 30, 1928 - June 2, 2008

Screamin' Jay Hawkins

July 18, 1929 - February 12, 2000

Sam Cooke

January 22, 1931 - December 11, 1964

Ike Turner

November 5, 1931 - December 12, 2007

Johnny Cash

February 26, 1932 - September 12, 2003

Clyde McPhatter

November 15, 1932 - June 13, 1972

Little Richard

December 5, 1932 - Present

Lloyd Price

March 9, 1933 - Present

James Brown

May 3, 1933 - December 25, 2006

Conway Twitty

September 1, 1933 - June 5, 1993

Pat Boone

June 1, 1934 - Present

Jackie Wilson

June 9, 1934 - January 21, 1984

Elvis Presley

January 8, 1935 - August 16, 1977

Jerry Lee Lewis

September 29, 1935 - Present

Bobby Darin

May 14, 1936 - December 20, 1973

Buddy Holly

September 7, 1936 - February 3, 1959

Clarence "Frogman" Henry

March 19, 1937 - Present

Dick Dale

May 4, 1937 - Present

Wanda Jackson

October 20, 1937 - Present

Little Willie John

November 15, 1937 - May 26, 1968

Etta james

January 25, 1938 - January 20, 2012

Eddie Cochran

October 3, 1938 - April 17, 1960

Connie Francis

December 12, 1938 - Present

Gary U.S. Bonds

June 6, 1939 - Present

Billy Fury

April 17, 1940 - January 28, 1983

Ricky Nelson

May 8, 1940 - December 31, 1985

John Lennon

October 9, 1940 - December 8, 1980

Cliff Richard

October 14, 1940 - Present

Bob Dylan

May 24, 1941 - Present

Paul McCartney

1942 - Present

Aretha Franklin

March 25, 1942 - Present

Brenda Lee

December 11, 1944 - Present

Van Morrison

August 31, 1945 - Present

Rock and Roll Artists of the 60's

Muddy Waters

April 4, 1913 - April 30, 1983

B.B. King

September 16, 1925 - May 14, 2015

Miles Davis

May 26, 1926 - September 28, 1991

Patsy Cline

September 8, 1932 - March 5, 1963

Del Shannon

December 30, 1934 - February 8, 1990

Roy Orbison

April 23, 1936 - December 6, 1988

Marvin Gaye

April 2, 1939 - April 1, 1984

Tina Turner

November 26, 1939 - Present

Gene Pitney

February 17, 1940 - April 5, 2006

Smokey Robinson

February 19, 1940 - Present

Wilson Pickett

March 18, 1941 - January 19, 2006

Otis Redding

September 9, 1941 - December 10, 1967

Chubby Checker

October 3, 1941 - Present

Isaac Hayes

August 20, 1942 - August 10, 2008

Jimi Hendrix

November 27, 1942 - September 18, 1970

Janis Joplin

January 19, 1943 - October 4, 1970

George Harrison

February 25, 1943 - November 29, 2001

Jim Morrison

December 8, 1943 - July 3, 1971

Bobby Womack

March 4, 1944 - June 27, 2014

Gladys Knight

May 28, 1944 - Present

Jeff Beck

June 24, 1944 - Present

Neil Young

November 12, 1945 - Present

Lesley Gore

May 2, 1946 - February 16, 2015

Donovan

May 10, 1946 - Present

David Bowie

January 8, 1947 - January 10, 2016

Elton John

March 25, 1947 - Present

Carlos Santana

July 20, 1947 - Present

Stevie Wonder

May 13, 1950 - Present

Rock and Roll Artists of the 70's

Ringo Starr

July 7, 1940 - Present

Paul Simon

October 13, 1941 - Present

Carole King

February 9, 1942 - Present

Lou Reed

March 2, 1942 - Present

Jim Croce

January 10, 1943 - Present

Mick Jagger

July 26, 1943 - Present

Joni Mitchell

November 7, 1943 - Present

Joe Cocker

May 20, 1944 - December 22, 2014

Barry White

September 12, 1944 - July 4, 2003

Rod Stewart

January 10, 1945 - Present

Eric Clapton

March 30, 1945 - Present

Carly Simon

June 25, 1945 - Present

Don McLean

October 2, 1945 - Present

Al Green

April 13, 1946 - Present

Linda Ronstadt

July 15, 1946 - Present

Freddie Mercury

September 5, 1946 - November 24, 1991

Patti Smith

December 30, 1946 - Present

Warren Zevon

January 24, 1947 - September 7, 2003

Alice Cooper

February 4, 1948 - Present

James Taylor

March 12, 1948 - Present

Stevie Nicks

May 26, 1948 - Present

Todd Rundgren

June 22, 1948 - Present

Cat Stevens

July 21, 1948 - Present

Jackson Browne

October 9, 1948 - Present

Donna Summer

December 31, 1948 - May 17, 2012

Billy Joel

May 9, 1949 - Present

Bruce Springsteen

September 23, 1949 - Present

Peter Frampton

April 22, 1950 - Present

Elvis Costello

August 25, 1954 - Present

Michael Jackson

August 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009

Rock and Roll Artists of the 80's

Pete Townshend

May 19, 1945 - Present

Don Henley

July 22, 1947 - Present

Sammy Hagar

October 13, 1947 - Present

Steve Winwood

May 12, 1948 - Present

Robert Plant

August 20, 1948 - Present

Olivia Newton-John

September 26, 1948 - Present

Ozzy Osbourne

December 3, 1948 - Present

Robert Palmer

January 19, 1949 - September 26, 2003

Steve Perry

January 22, 1949 - Present

Peter Gabriel

February 13, 1950 - Present

Tom Petty

October 20, 1950 - Present

Phil Collins

January 30, 1951 - Present

Sting

October 2, 1951 - Present

Pat Benatar

January 10, 1953 - Present

Cyndi Lauper

June 22, 1953 - Present

Stevie Ray Vaughan

October 3, 1954 - August 27, 1990

David Lee Roth

October 10, 1954 - Present

Eddie Van Halen

January 26, 1955 - Present

Billy Idol

November 30, 1955 - Present

Madonna

August 16, 1958 - Present

Bryan Adams

November 5, 1959 - Present

Bono

May 10, 1960 - Present

Jon Bon Jovi

March 2, 1962 - Present

Whitney Houston

August 9, 1963 - February 11, 2012