The biggest musical phenomenon of the 20th century.
The bastard child of a dozen mothers and countless fathers, rock & roll was a phenomenon unlike the world had ever seen or has seen since. America's prosperity after WWII led to the rise of youth culture, which soon became the dominant force in music.
The term "rock" was often used in Black music to describe spiritual ecstasy (see Sister Rosetta Tharpe's version of "Rock Me"), "rock & roll" was used in Black music to describe an ecstasy of a more physical nature (see Trixie Smith's "My Man Rocks Me With One Steady Roll").
Today, rock & roll is considered white folk's music, but the genre was largely born and influenced by rhythm & blues. In fact, up until the mid-1950s, the terms were used interchangeably. Labeling rock & roll as white also ignores the fact that most of its earliest stars, such as Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, and Little Richard, were Black, and that white artists like Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis were trying to infuse rhythm & blues into the country and rockabilly styles.
Elvis gave credit to the Black artists that paved the way for him. Once, while in Las Vegas, a reporter referred to him by his well-known moniker "the king." Elvis pointed to Fats Domino, who was also present, and said, "No, that’s the real king of rock & roll."
Well long, tall Sally
She's built for speed, she got
Everything that Uncle John need, oh, baby
Yeah, baby, woo, baby
Havin' me some fun tonight, yeah
"Long Tall Sally" by Little Richard
Maybellene, why can't you be true
Oh Maybellene, why can't you be true
You've started back doin' the things you used to do
"Maybellene" by Chuck Berry
"The Gothfather." Pioneer of theatrical shock rock.
The Father of Rock and Roll.
The most popular Black rock and roll artist of the 1950s.
The singer-songwriter of "Why Do Fools Fall In Love."
Mixing gospel and the profane, he's rock & roll personified.
The big bands get smaller and grittier.
Jazz music moves off the dance floor.
The blues follows the Great Migration north and plugs in.
Urban-born rich vocal harmonies combined with teen romance.