The fifties marked the comercialization and the popularization of Rock and Roll. Bill Haley's 'Rock Around the Clock' was a major milestone in this era of rock. Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper were also very important in this effort. Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis were, however, the kings of Rock, and their influence was incalculable. The influences of these people was the Blues masters of the 40s, however, they took the sounds of the blues and added new instruments and sped up the sounds to create the classic rock sounds of the 50s. However, a lot of the impressive, soul-searing sounds of the blues masters was lost. But, without this commericialization, the whole of the white community may never have been exposed to the black birthed sounds of rock and blues. Also, without rock making money, there would have been no drive to support later artists, this paved the way for the explosion of rock music and the reintroduction of blues into the equation
The 60s were,without a doubt, the years that rock reached it's cultural peak. The counterculture revolution and it's support of equal rights for blacks allowed more to freely support the black orignated sounds of Rock n Roll. The Beetles, Rolling Stones, and Bob Dillon's monumental success with more blues-influenced rock sounds paved the way for more unique artists' work. Evidence of the reintroduciton of older sounds is evidenced by, for one thing, in the fact that the stones' name alone comes from a Muddy Waters song. The music of this era is unmatched in it's power to deliver a meaningful message. This was due, in part, to the fact that the artists believed in the message they were delivering. The turning point was when one artist in particular, Eric Clapton, came on to the scene. The first band he headlined was Cream, a name they chose because they saw themselves as the 'cream of english blues bands'. He worked often with blues great BB King. The two work together to this day. Clapton produced many great works in his time, and he began a turn in the music more towards it's blues roots. To me, one of the greatest rock/blues songs ever written is 'Bell Bottom Blues' by Derek and the Dominoes (headlined by Clapton). Unfortunately, Clapton also began a tradition of great musicians brought down by drugs, by the end of the 60s, Claptons life was shambles, and it took years of therapy before he was able to bounce back. However, Clapton's unique blending of modern sounds with classic blues paved the way for a man to whom he was a major inspiration, a man whom many see as the greatest electric blues guitarist of all time, the incredible Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix was a contemporary master of the electric sound with a soul fired by the sounds of the old blues greats such as Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. You will see that I also have an extensive wealth of information on Hendrix. His power was not just in his musical talent, but in his ability to deliver his message through a show that is unmatched to this day. His power as a blues musician is probably most evident in his acoustic rendition of 'Hear My Trains A-Comin'. His most powerful influences musically were Eric Clapton and Bob Dillon. He was a great songwriter and an unmatched guitarist. His electric sound paved the way for the heavy sounds of Ozzy Osborne, Aerosmith, Kiss and later Pantera. His content influence had a direct effect on the later alternative movement of the 90s. In many ways, Hendrix power to manipulate the electric sound was a reflection of the psychedelic movement of the period. To many he embodied the rebellion that many teenagers were engaging in by joining the hippy movement. As a black man, he also ran up against the same kind of prejudices that his forefathers did. To listen to him speak was a pleasure, to hear him play was an experience. That is, in a way, what he was: a living experience. He was known to play with odd parts of his body while lights danced around him to the music. He reached the height of his fame when he played the 'Star Spangled Banner' at Woodstock. Unfortunately, his drug involvement was blown out of proportion (a point I touch on on the page devoted to him) Hendrix death in 1970, followed by that of his talented contemporaries Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin marked the end of an era. Alot of great rock continued on, but it was along time before a true milestone artist came on the scene again. Luckily, the semantics of the electric sound were kept alive by the hard rock and heavy sounds that did maintain poularity in the 80s.
The disco movement of the late 70s was thankfully short-lived. However it had an influence on rock n roll that influenced it for 10 long years. Classic Rock sounds, birthed in the old southern blues sounds, gave way to a pop sound that was the primary music art form during the 80s. Madonna, Michael Jackson, and others were at the forefront of this movement. I am not a fan of the music of the 80s, though I know there are people out there who are. Thanfully groups like Aerosmith and Tom Petty kept the classic rock sound alive. Groups like Judas Priest, Metallica, multiple punk bands, kept the 'bad boy' image of rock and the semantics of it's guitar-oriented sounds popular in some mostly-underground circles. Metallica was a major player in keeping the rock n' roll sound alive. However, these groups success was small compared to the massive money and influence gained by the pop masters. Pop was an influx of disco-like sounds combined with lyrics written in a somewhat rock n' roll style. Thankfully, this was a decade-long movement, and it's end was marked with the birth of a new counter-culture revolution.
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