The Ultimate Guide to Rock Music

The rock and roll genre of music began to take shape in the early 20th century with names such as blues man Robert Johnson, as well as electric blues players Joe Turner and Muddy Waters. Boogie was a very popular type of music in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1949, Fats Domino released an album named The Fat Man, which introduced a new kind of boogie, and a new progressive genre was formed. Later on, the genre evolved with valuable contributions from artists of the 1940s, such as Carl Hogan, Roy Brown, and John Lee Hooker.


This was the decade when rock and roll truly emerged. Rocket 88, which was released in 1951, is considered the first rock and roll album. Some of the outstanding artists of the genre cut their first albums in this decade as well, and they were Little Richard, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, Everly Brothers, Bill Haley, and Johnny Cash. It was also the time when Chuck Berry released the smash hits “Rock And Roll Music” and “School Day”. Chuck Berry’s musical style made some critics regard him as the inventor of rock music. 1956 was a momentous year in the history of rock music, since it was this year when the King of Rock, Elvis Presley, released his first album, Love Me Tender.


The British, spearheaded by the Beatles, took over the American rock and roll music industry. “Running Scared” by Roy Orbison hit the number one spot in the US charts. Ray Charles found commercial success with his single “Georgia On My Mind”, and James Brown’s critically acclaimed album Live at the Apollo was released in this decade too. In 1965, Bob Dylan set the trend by introducing the folk rock genre in the Newport Folk Festival. Some other distinguished musicians during this golden age of rock music included The Supremes, Frank Zappa, The Beach Boys, Cream, and The Rolling Stones. A major milestone in rock and roll history was set in 1969, when the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival was organized, and it attracted almost a million rock and roll fans.


The English rock band Pink Floyd took the progressive rock genre to a new level with their psychedelic rock music. Some of their major albums, The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall, were released in the 1970s as well. In 1970, rock legends Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix passed away. The British rock band Queen was formed in 1970, and American Beauty and Workingman's Dead were released by the Grateful Dead. Led Zeppelin had a record breaking rock and roll musical tour in 1973. Country rock and reggae, led by the Eagles and Bob Marley respectively, established themselves as major musical genres of the decade. Disheartening events continued in rock and roll in this decade with the passing of Jim Morrison (The Doors) and Elvis ‘The King” Presley. The Beatles broke up as well.


Michael Jackson almost singlehandedly popularized the pop genre with his record breaking albums Thriller, Bad, and Dangerous. John Lennon was murdered in 1980, and the US rock band Eagles disbanded in 1982. David Bowie’s “Lets Dance” became a number one rock hit, and US rock musician Bruce Springsteen created a major ripple in the rock and roll industry with his album Born in the USA in 1984. British rock band Dire Straits showcased their unique blues-rock style with their hugely successful album Brothers In Arms in 1985. Also in 1985, the song “We Are The World” was recorded by several US rock artists, and it won multiple awards. The Traveling Wilbury’s, featuring some of the greatest names in rock music, came together in 1988.


The influence of music television channels such as MTV made new age rock famous worldwide. In 1991, Guns N’ Roses released their Use Your Illusion album. The following year, US groups such as Pearl Jam and Nirvana established grunge rock. In 1993, U2 completed their Zooropa tour, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum was opened in Cleveland in 1995. Bon Jovi, Van Halen, and Alanis Morisette released some of the best selling rock albums of the decade.


The new millennium witnessed some fresh new sub-genres of rock music, some of which included metalcore, dance punk, garage rock, new rave, and hardcore punk. Just as it did in the past, rock and roll music continues to influence fashion and movies worldwide and inspires the youth of today. This has also been an era of music piracy and unlawful online downloads of music files, which has harmed the rock music industry to a certain degree. In spite of these obstacles, rock music remains one of the most popular musical genres worldwide.