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History of Rock 1/10

Intro to Classic Rockers

Becky Brown

on 24 January 2017

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Transcript of History of Rock 1/10

Think about a time when you saw a performance that stunned you, made you cry, scream, gasp, etc. What was it about the performance that was so special? Explain.
Classic Rockers: The First Generation
Once mainstream American society recognized the popularity of rock and roll among young people, their sense of social balance was shaken.
This was music that young people reacted to emotionally--moving their bodies to danceable beats and mouthing lyrics that told tales about romance, dance, school, music and sex.
In an era of the organization man, when dutiful parents strove to belong and conform, rock music became a catalyst for teens to form their own group identity.
The first generation of classic rockers--Fats Domino, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard--rose to prominence between 1953 and 1955.
Antoine "Fats" Domino
One of nine children, Domino was born in New Orleans on Feb. 26, 1928. His family spoke mostly French Cfreole at home and was steeped in the rich musical tradition of the city.
"The Fat Man" entered the R&B charts in April 1950 and rose to #6. He released five more gold records before 1955
In July, 1955 "Ain't It a Shame" reached the top-40 pop music charts, allowing Domino his first major access to teenage America.
Domino's sound, called rhythm and blues in 1954, was heralded as rock and roll by 1956. Domino's top-10 hits included "Blueberry Hill," "I'm Walkin,'" and "Whole Lotta Loving."
Despite Domino's failure to score a #1 hit on the pop charts, he was still one of the most commercially viable of the classic rockers.
Bill Haley
Bill Haley introduced teenage America to classic rock and roll.
Bill Haley started his career as the country and western frontman for Bill Haley and the Saddlemen, when he recognized the appeal of rock and roll and made a conscious effort to integrate his country roots with R&B.
The Saddlemen became The Comets, a powerful rock and roll ensemble consisting of drums, bass, two electric guitars, piano, steel guitar, and tenor sax.
They recorded "Crazy Man Crazy," which sold more than 1 million copies.
The band also recorded "Rock Around the Clock," as well as a musically and lyrically sanitized cover version of Big Joe Turner's R&B hit "Shake, Rattle, and Roll," which reached #12.
The decision to use "Rock Around the Clock" behind the opening credits of the 1955 movie Blackboard Jungle secured the song, and Haley, a place in the history books.
Teens acquired an anthem of rebellion, as they added the words "whether you like it or not" to the title.
Chuck Berry
"Berry was the first performer to demonstrate that rock and roll could be philosphically and artistically worthwhile as well as good to dance to...he put a measure of quality into rock and roll.
Charles Edward Anderson Berry was the father-poet of classic rock and roll.
He chronicled the fifties teenage experience with a literacy and musical creativity unmatched by his contemporaries.
Berry was a self-taught musician, proicient in guitar, sax, and piano.
One important innovation Berry developed was the rhythm-gitar style. Using E-fingering bar chords, Berry would strum an eight-not pulse on the bass strings of the guitar while alternating with his pinkie every two beats four frets above the bar. This created a forceful, driving foundation to Berry's material that continues to be used by modern rock guitarists.
"Roll Over Beethoven" (#29, 1956)
"Rock and Roll Music" (#8, 1957)
Johnny B. Goode" (#8, 1958)
Little Richard
When Jerry Lee Lewis hits the piano keyboard with his butt, bangs the keys with the boot of his heel of an outstretched leg and leaps on top, it's Little Richard. When Presley chokes-gasps-gulps his words and swivels his pelvis, it's Little Richard. When the Beatles scream "yeah, yeah, yeah" and gliss into a high falsetto, it's Little Richard.
Richard Pennimen always wanted to be acknowledged as the king of rock and roll. He exploded into the first era of rock and roll with a string of top-40 hits.
His unique stage appearance and live performance style were imitated by many of his contemporaries.
But Richard was simply too outrageous, too raw, and too black to capture the crown he so desperately wanted.
Richard was a rambunctious teen whose wild behavior landed him in the streets at age 13. Upon his return to Macon, Richard was taken in by a white couple who ran a nightclub. From this point on, he set his sights on music.
Little Richard recorded "Tutti-Frutti" and it raced to #2 on the R&B charts in 1956.
Richard wore silver suits, boots, and capes; his processed hair stood anywhere from six inches to a full foot above his forehead. He wore pancake makeup, mascara, and eyeliner as he hammered out boogie chords on the piano and screamed messages of celebration and self-centered pleasure.
Fats Domino: "Ain't That a Shame"
Questions for Discussion:
How would you describe Domino's style of piano-playing? How might this style have influenced the classic rockers?
Bill Haley "Rock Around the Clock"
Questions for Discussion:
How does Haley's band exemplify the transition from pure blues to "rock and roll?"
Chuck Berry
Questions for Discussion:
What do you notice about Berry's performance style?

What do the lyrics tell us about Berry's reputation as a poet-rocker?
Little Richard: "Lucille" and
Questions for Discussion:
How would you describe Little Richard's performance style?

How might his lyrics venture into the "danger zone?"
"Good Golly Miss Molly"
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