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ROCK  ∙  rock America  ∙  rock UK  ∙ rock Europe  ∙  rock Australia  ∙



Rock genres - From Elvis to Nirvana


The first tracks of rock music were recorded in the USA in 1946/47 as outspreads from blues, boogie woogie, swing jazz and country music. While some of those tracks carry the seeds for Bill Haley’s future hit 'Rock around the clock' (1955), others are precursors of rockabilly and RnB (rythm'n'blues). In the 50s, RnB rock and rockabilly achieved mass popularity. "Let's twist again" (1961, Chubby Checker) and "Oh, pretty woman" (1964, Roy Orbison) were the two iconic rockabilly songs in the 60s. Hailing from the West Coast, surf rock reached world fame in 1963 but the frenzy for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones gripped America in early 1964 and sparked both the "British Invasion" of the US charts and the influence of British beat on American rock. Progressive rock started in the mid-60s and, along with RnB Soul, dominated the music scene in the 70s.

Garage rock triggered the punk rock scene in the late 60s, and new wave took hold as a post-punk genre in the late 70s. In the 80s, traditional rock and hard rock gained maturity and momentum, delivering stunning rock anthems. New wave peaked notably with Prince, The Motels and The Cars. New forms of alternative rock emerged over the decade under the leadership of R.E.M. During the 90s, the worldwide success of Nirvana and the grunge genre changed rock music forever, female musicians released great rock and trip hop matured and flourished. Meanwhile, countless new forms of alternative rock emerged, reached wide audiences and spawned the indie rock wave along with new genres of psychedelia, power pop and metal music. (.. more, cf. ROCK AMERICA  ∙  1940s  ∙  50s  ∙  60s  ∙  70s  ∙  80s  ∙  90s  ∙  2000s ..)


The advent of rockabilly in the mid-50s in America triggered the launch of rock'n'roll in England. The first famous British rockers were Tommy Steele, Marty Wilde, Jim Dale and Cliff Richard in 1956-58, joined in the Charts in 1959 by Billy Fury, Adam Faith and Emile Ford. The song 'Move it' (1958) is reputed to have been the first non-American rock hit. The reverb guitar sound of the Shadows (Cliff Richard’s backing group) became a landmark of British rock‘n’roll in the early 60s but soon gave way to British beat, lead by The Beatles. In the mid-60s, successful releases by the Animals, the Rolling Stones and the Who sparked a full-fledged British rock scene, which itself spawned the British RnB rock, hard rock and progressive rock genres. In the early 70s, hard rock and progressive rock had their heyday under the lead of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and the Who for hard-rock, of David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Genesis for progressive rock, a genre lead in the late 70s by Queen, Supertramp, Dire Straits and the Police.

British punk rock emerged in 1975, driven by the Sex Pistols, the Damned and the Clash. Post punk new wave developed in the late 70s, fueled by Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Cure, Joy Division, Simple Minds, the Boomtown Rats, Fisher-Z. In the 80s, new wave and synth-pop produced a magnificent vintage of British pop music. Simple Minds, U2, Ultravox, Eurythmics, New Order, Boy George, Billy Idol are some of its most famous names. Gothic rock also peaked notably with The Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Joy Division and The SmithsIn the 90s, notable new genres redefined British rock music including Britpop, alternative rock, trip-hop and shoegazing. Britpop was lead in the mis-90s by the groups Pulp, Blur, Suede and Oasis. Alternative rock was under the influence of Radiohead and PJ Harvey  in 1992-95 and of Placebo and Muse in 1997-99. Trip-hop burst in with Massive Attack in 1991 and Portishead in 1994. As for the shoegaze genre, it was initiated by Irish avant-garde rock band My Bloody Valentine and spanned the 2000s. (.. more, cf. ROCK UK  ∙   50s   ∙   60s   ∙   70s   ∙   80s   ∙   90s   ∙   2000s ..)


Rockabilly singles were published as of 1955-56 in Denmark and Germany and in 1958-59 in The Netherlands, Sweden, France and Italy. The first releases were straight covers of American rock songs but these soon gave way to translated versions and original compositions. After rockabilly, Europe became passionate for the reverb rock sound of the English group The Shadows but in 1963 the continent fell under the spell of British beat and yé-yé pop-rock. Progressive rock was adopted in 1965 and psychedelic rock in 1967. Although European rockers of the 60s sang mostly in their national language, a few of their compositions in English achieved international fame such as Black is Black (Los Bravos 1966 Spain), A girl I knew (The Savage Rose 1968 Denmark), Venus (Shoking Blue 1969 The Netherlands), It's five o'clock (Aphrodites' Child 1969 Greece) or Little green bag (George Baker Selection, The Netherlands).

In the early 70s, European rock was dominated by hard-rock and psychedelic rock. Ironically called Krautrock, German psychedelic rock got started in 1967 in München, emerged as a major trend and also gave birth to the electronic ambient music genre with its frontrunner Klaus Schulze delivering 11 LP albums in 1972-1979. The other leading electronic ambient music artist during the decade was Frenchman Jean-Michel Jarre. Emerging genres like punk rock, gothic rock and new wave also took hold. The decade of the 70s delivered its share of evergreen hits like Waterloo (Abba 1974 Sweden), Oxygène'/ 'Equinoxe' (1976/78 Jean-Michel Jarre, France),  Ça plane pour moi (Plastic Bertrand 1977 France), Das Model (Kraftwerk 1978 Germany), Born to be alive (Patrick Hernandez 1979 France).

In the 80s, new wave and synth pop were widely embraced across Europe and released spectacular tracks, e.g. Total eclipse (Klaus Nomi 1981 Germany), La preda (Litfiba 1983 Italy), Program tvog kompjutera (Denis & Denis 1984 Yugoslavia), Un autre monde (Telephone 1984 France), Han caido los dos (Radio Futura 1985 Spain), C'est comme ça (Les Rita Mitsouko 1986 France), Don't you smile (Elements Of Crime 1987 Germany). In the 90s, alternative rock, indie rock and trip-hop became the dominant genres, e.g. Entre dos tierras (Héroes del Silencio 1990  Spain, new wave), Osez Joséphine (Alain Bashung 1991 France, new wave), Dormir dehors (Daran, France 1994 alt-rock), Wir sind hier nicht in Seattle, Dirk  (Tocotronic 1995 Germany, grunge/alt-rock), Sleep (Bang Gang 1997 Iceland, trip-hop), 1998  Tempo alle mie volie (Sintesi 1988 Italy, indie rock), 1999  The unknown (Andrea Parker 1999 Sweden, trip-hop). In the 21st Century, rock is still very much alive on the continent. (.. more, cf. ROCK EUROPE  ∙  50s  ∙  60s  ∙  70s  ∙  80s ∙  90s  ∙  2000s ..)


Australia's country-folk tradition has its roots in the country's British colonial past. A direct heir to the 1954-56 advent of rockabilly in America, ‘Wild one’ (Johnny O’Keefe, 1958) was the first Australian rock’n’roll song to reach a wide audience. Subsequently, the Australian rock scene enjoyed recurring international success due in particular to the following artists:

∙  60s  ∙  Frank Ifield, Ray Brown & the Whispers, The Easybeats, Bee Gees (Anglo-Australian), John Rowles  ∙  70s  ∙  Spectrum, AC/DC, Little River Band, John Paul Young  ∙  80s  ∙  Madness, Flash & the Pan, Men At Work, Midnight Oil, Icehouse, Crowded House, John Farnham, The Triffids, Inxs, The Church, The Go-Betweens  ∙  90s  ∙  Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Hoodoo Gurus, Jenny Morris (NZ), Savage Garden, Natalie Imbruglia, Madison Avenue  ∙  2000s-2010s  ∙  Kylie Minogue, Empire Of The Sun, Gabriella Cilmi, Gotye, Lorde (NZ), Sia, Betty Who  ∙  (..  more, cf. ROCK AUSTRALIA ..)



ROCK  ∙  rock America  ∙  rock UK  ∙ rock Europe ∙  rock Australia  ∙