USA & Canada

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ROCK MUSIC JOURNEY THROUGH 700 SONGS

HISTORY OF ROCK  ∙  USA & CANADA  ∙  UK  ∙

USA early rock

ROCK MUSIC IN THE 1940s

The first tracks of rock music were recorded in the USA in 1947-49 as outspreads from blues, country-music, swing-jazz and boogie-woogie. While three of those tracks carry in them the seeds for Bill Haley’s future hit 'Rock around the clock' (1955), another four of them are precursors of rockabilly and rythm'n'blues (RnB).

AMERICAN ROCK IN THE 1950s

At the end of the 1950s, it was the rockabilly genre that had established itself as the symbol of rock'n'roll with the advent of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and their likes. RnB also took off in the early 50s and also delivered huge rock hits, most notably by superstars Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and James Brown & the Famous Flames.

AMERICAN ROCK IN THE 1960s

While Elvis Presley's 17-hit streak ended in 1962, "Let's twist again" (1962, Chubby Checker) and "Oh, pretty woman" (1964, Roy Orbison) were the two iconic rockabilly songs of the 60s. Hailing from the West Coast, surf rock reached world fame in 1963 with the Beach Boys and Dick Dale. But the frenzy for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones gripped the USA 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 quickly became mainstream. Although folk singer Bob Dylan came under heavy criticism when he turned to electric rock in 1965, the following years spawned wide acceptance of many new styles of progressive rock. These include art rock (the Byrds, Grateful Dead), underground rock (the Mothers of Invention, the Velvet Underground), psychedelic rock (Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, Jimmy Hendrix, Iron Butterfly), hard rock (Steppenwolf, Rare Earth), jazz rock (Chicago Transit Authority, Blood Sweat & Tears), latin rock (Santana) as well as innovative forms of country rock (Buffalo Springfield, Creedence Clearwater Revival), blues rock (Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Canned Heat) and soul rock (Janis Joplin, Tommy James & the Shondells).

AMERICAN ROCK IN THE 1970s

Along with soul RnB, rock dominated the American music scene in the 70s. Punk rock and new wave also took hold during the decade notably with the advent of Patti Smith, Iggy & the Stooges and the Ramones for the earlier, the Talking Heads and B-52's for the latter.

AMERICAN ROCK IN THE 1980s

Traditional rock and hard rock gained maturity and momentum in the 80s, delivering stunning rock anthems. New wave developed and reached its peak notably with Prince, The Motels and The Cars. New forms of alternative rock emerged over the decade under the leadership of R.E.M. and produced puzzling gems such as the now cult songs 'Where is my mind' (1988) by the Pixies and 'Barnaby, hardly working' (1989) by Yo La Tengo.

AMERICAN ROCK IN THE 1990s

During the 90s, the Red Hot Chili Peppers went mainstream, female musicians released great rock and trip hop matured and flourished. Meanwhile, the worldwide success of Nirvana and the grunge genre in late 1991 changed rock music forever. 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.

AMERICAN ROCK IN THE 2000s