Rock ‘n’ roll: A timeless capsule

It is said that everything on earth grows old at some point. Music, however, is that one element of life that is timeless.

Over the years, music has changed into different genres and beats. Keeping this in mind, rock ‘n’ roll, which is commonly referred to as rock, has a rich history that transcends through many years and across different genres.

Rock and roll was born in the 1950s, coming up from a fusion of blues, jazz, country and gospel music. According to, it is said that the infancy of rock can be traced back to the drums of Africa or celtic folk music in Europe. The blend then made it to America, through the immigration of Africans and Europeans into the continent.

The name rock ‘n’ roll, in reference to music, did not exist until the emergence of Alan Freed with his upbeat tempo of the rhythm and blues, combined with country and jazz. Ever since then, rock ‘n’ roll has reinvented itself to a point where it is a cloud with several other sub-genres under it.

Rock ‘n’ roll grew quickly and by the 50s, artists like Bill Haley and Elvis Presley were becoming household names. The future looked bright for the genre. For rock ‘n’ roll, the 60s were the teenage years, the period during which it matured. This golden age paved way for Elvis Presley to become an even bigger artist with folk rock also growing in popularity. As the halfway mark of the decade grew nearer, the British began to invade the charts.

Two bands in particular took the world by storm, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey), who formed The Beatles, wowed the world not only with their music but also their charm on television and radio interviews. Rock and roll was no longer an American genre, but a worldwide form of music.

Led by vocalist, Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones were also building a name for themselves not only in the U.K., but also the United States and the world in general. To this date, they hold the record for the longest serving rock ‘n’ roll band. The invasion of the U.S. began in 1964, when they first toured the U.S and were a huge success. However at the end of the 60s, it was clear that The Beatles were the ultimate victors, with six top 10 albums and 21 of the decades’ top 100 singles.

The 1970s began on a rather sad note for rock ‘n’ roll fans as The Beatles announced their break up. This, however, led to the transition into hard rock and heavy metal.

The definition of a rock star also changed, as rock bands and artists began living lavish lifestyles and selling out sports arenas during tours. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Kiss began ruling the soundwaves and making huge hits. The death of Elvis Presley in 1977  saddened the rock and roll community when he died at the age of 42.

In the 1980s, television had been around for close to 20 years and was becoming a major feature in the music world. The launch of MTV and VH1 made a big impact on the future of rock ‘n’ roll.

There was a new wave of artists and bands being publicized to music fans. Key artists included Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince. The definition of rock ‘n’ roll became to face an issue as many disagreed on what was and what was not “rock ‘n’ roll.”

With Ozzy Osbourne on heavy metal, Bon Jovi on mainstream rock and The Police on new wave rock, it was really difficult to determine what rock and roll really was. In 1986, the first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction was held, with Elvis Presley and James Brown, among others, being the first to make the list that would later on grow to be what it is today.

The 1990s did not make the situation any easier. The crossing of genres was obviously happening as heavy metal merged with other genres.

Alternative rock, electronic music and rap metal became the new sub genres of the bigger cloud. In 1995 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum was opened in Cleveland, Ohio with the aim of preserving the rich history that had been created over the years.

Collins Maroa
Staff Reporter

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