Rock n Roll

  • Rock n Roll
  • Original Rock n Rollers
  • Brill Building and Singer Songwriters
  • Motown
  • Contemporary Stage and Score


In 1953, Chuck Berry, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller released their first singles written in a fusion of blues and country & western. These original rock & rollers blurred the distinction between black and white music in America and did not discriminate when it came to sound. In the post war affluence and optimism of American youth, there was a demand for new kinds of songs that would reflect the new cultural patterns emerging, both economically and socially.

The essential difference between the Tin Pan Alley sound and the distinctive sound introduced in 1953 was the new instruments used--primarily the guitar. Berry, a blues-based artist, created complex riffs over a fast tempo beat, while Fats Domino and Dave Bartholemew featured guitar solos. While the early rock & roll songwriters were deeply connected to specific genres--country, boogie and the blues--the guitar allowed for an amplified, sustainable sound, which created a fusion of all genres.

Rockabilly started in the south at Sam Phillips' Sun label. The name comes from the in-between sound of rhythm & blues rock and the traditional hillbilly sound of old country & western. The "anthem" for this new in-between sound was "Blue Suede Shoes" by Carl Perkins. But it is Elvis Presley who is credited for defining and perfecting the sound, and for introducing American audiences to the powerful fusion of the segregated genres.

By the late 1950s, Elvis set the standard for rockabilly music, forever changed the importance of an artist's performance. Rolling Stone's "History of Rock N' Roll," states that "his music had parallels, not just the honky-tonk clatter of Bill Haley and His Comets but in the genuine Pop success singers had enjoyed in earlier eras in bringing black vocal styling to the white marketplace." The popularity of Elvis created a new outlet for songs, and professional songwriters were called on to introduce their compositions with Elvis as the vehicle. The performing artist had become the focus of a song's success.