Rock music has evolved over the years to include a lot of different musical directions. It started out as an amplified mix of blues and rockabilly. The term "rock and roll" was mentioned as far back as the 1930s in r&b songs. The electric guitar-based music became popular in the mid-fifties by Cleveland DJ Alan Freed and by the MGM motion picture Blackboard Jungle, which featured the song "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets. Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Elvis Presley followed with the wild dance music that would define a new era.
Rock elevated the artistic status of albums with Beatles releases such as the 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was highly acclaimed for its studio experimentation. Jimi Hendrix also helped push the boundaries of experimental rock, especially with respect to lead guitar solos. Bands began to mix rock with many other styles, leading to a development of freeform music. In the 1970s Pink Floyd took studio experimentation to untouchable levels with Dark Side of the Moon. Meanwhile, other top rock artists of the 70s, such as Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Aerosmith, Santana, Deep Purple and Van Halen built their sound on rocked up blues. Meanwhile, countrified rock came from The Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Eagles.
Arena rock became big biz from the late seventies on. AC/DC helped usher in harder rock music, which opened the door for bands like Def Leppard, Motley Crew and Metallica. New wave and modern rock helped expand the sound of rock in the 70s, 80s and 90s. The Seattle sound of the 90s produced groundbreaking bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam. A lot of 90s modern rock had its roots in 60s and 70s rock. New harder electronic sounds emerged from Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and White Zombie.
The often heard claim that "rock is dead" is more of a statement by outsiders or people who don't like rock, which has been the best selling musical genre for many years, according to RIAA statistics. The genre's market share has ranged from 25 to 33 percent throughout the early 21st century. The perception that "rock is dead" comes from people who analyze the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, which is a reflection mainly of records promoted at pop radio stations. Yet rock album sales have remained strong and even frequently outselling pop acts without the help of top 40 airplay. In the first decade of the new century rock accounted for two of the top three selling acts, which were The Beatles and NIckelback.
In 2013 the top concert draw was Bon Jovi, proving once again that rock isn't dead. There is still a huge audience for rock even if top 40 radio ignores the music. Rock music has not been a big part of the pop charts since the late 80s due to radio formatting, yet rock album sales have never died, relying heavily on airplay at rock and alternative stations. Another dimension to rock's huge market is college rock, which includes a lot of punk and metal acts that gain followings through touring.
"Rock and roll will never die" is an anthem that has appeared throughout its history. Even though it has been one of the most criticized forms of music, either for its loudness, rawness or experimentation, it has also been among the best selling genres of all time. Due to its unforgettable mark in history it's a good bet that rock has a long life ahead, especially in the form of independent music.
© Playlist Research. All rights reserved.