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Popular Music 1950s: The Emergence of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

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Presentation on theme: "Popular Music 1950s: The Emergence of Rock ‘n’ Roll."— Presentation transcript:

1 Popular Music 1950s: The Emergence of Rock ‘n’ Roll

2 Day 2 Background on life in the 1950s What is the “music industry” today? Independent Labels – regional Major Labels – RCA, CBS, Decca, & Capital Records Marketing Categories: Regional vs. National Development of the lightweight “unbreakable” 45 rpm record Top 40 Radio was created

3 Day 3: Sounds of the Cities First stop… New Orleans – Cosimo Matassa (J&M Studio) – Antoine “Fats” Domino – Little Richard

4 Fats Domino Piano Charted 36 Top 40 pop hits Transcended racism Had an elegant gentleman persona

5 Little Richard Originally from Macon, GA Contract bought out for $600 Went to New Orleans to record at J&M Studio Most outrageous rocker First to use mascara

6 Next stop… Los Angeles – Johnny Otis – Bobby Day – The Champs – Ritchie Valens

7 Johnny Otis First to make successful transition from jazz to rock ‘n’ roll Big hit was Willie and the Hand Jive Catalyst for African American culture and talent

8 Bobby Day Rockin’ Robin

9 The Champs Drew on Mexican rhythms Tequila

10 Ritchie Valens First Chicano rock ‘n’ roll star Died 3 months before his 18 th birthday in plane crash with Buddy Holly & Big Bopper (February 3, 1959) Known as “the day the music died” La Bamba

11 Day 4: Sounds of the Cities Moving on to Chicago… Chess Records – Bo Diddley – Chuck Berry Vee Jay Records And…Cincinnati King Records

12 Bo Diddley First instrument was the violin Usually performed in all black with a black Stetson hat Known for “shave and a haircut” diddy Performed with oddly shaped guitars

13 Chuck Berry King of Rock ‘n’ Roll?? Was told he sounded “too country for a black man” Songs were too socially relevant for many people Could relate to a white teen culture R&R’s first guitar hero

14 Cincinnati King Records – Crossroads for blues and country music – Encouraged c&w artists and r&b artists to record each other’s songs

15 Day 5: The Gospel Connection R & B artists did not perform in church. Gospel singers were expected to steer clear of “devil’s music.” The Dominoes

16 Ray Charles “The Genius” Blinded by glaucoma as a child Did not see a contradiction between gospel and r&b 58-year career, won 12 Grammy Awards He virtually created the gospel blues style

17 Day 6: Doo Wop – The Intersection of Gospel, Jazz & Pop Doo Wop was the product of urban vocal harmony groups, mostly African American and almost invariably male. – Influenced by gospel, jazz, pop, and blues styles. – Group Names (bird groups and car groups) – The Ravens

18 “One Hit Wonders” New York City was the center for doo wop. The Clovers – Love Potion No. 9

19 The Coasters Major hit makers from – Yakety Yak – Charlie Brown – Poison Ivy The Drifters

20 Race in Doo Wop Groups Italian Americans Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers Johnny Maestro and the Crests Dion and the Belmonts The Dell Vikings

21 Gender Balance Only a few groups had females All-female groups were even fewer…their songs defined male-female relationships Doo Wop ended in 1961 Those Oldies But Goodies – Little Caesar and the Romans

22 Day 7: Rockabilly (The Country Strain) Sam Phillips Started the Memphis Recording Service in 1950 Cost $2 per side Founded Sun Records in Memphis, TN in 1953 Wanted to filter the African American style through white performers, making it more accessible to the mainstream audience Bill Haley & His Comets Balding and looked somewhat middle-aged Rock Around the Clock sold 17 million copies

23 Elvis Presley Born to poor, white Mississippi parents on January 8, 1935 At Sun Records he recorded 10 sides (each of the 5 records had a r&b song backed with a c&w song) Contract sold to RCA-Victor for $35,000 Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, & Don’t Be Cruel Was not a songwriter “Elvis the Pelvis” Joined the Army from Charted 149 Top 40 hits and 92 albums on the charts Also starred in movies

24 Carl Perkins The son of poor, white southern parents Blue Suede Shoes Said, “Rockabilly is a country man’s song with a black man’s rhythm.” Career ended after he was nearly killed in a car crash. In 1964, the Beatles invited him to a recording session where they recorded 3 of his songs. Day 8: Rockabilly continued…

25 Jerry Lee Lewis Known for his boogie- powered “pumping piano” Had blonde, curly hair Turned out three Top 10 pop hits in a row for Sun Records, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, Great Balls of Fire, and Breathless

26 Johnny Cash Started at Sun Records in 1955 After a few country hits, I Walk the Line became a Top 20 pop hit in 1956 Switched to Columbia Records in 1958 Career included gold and platinum records, films, and his own TV show Died in 2003 from complications from diabetes

27 “The Million Dollar Quartet” Elvis Presley Jerry Lee Lewis Johnny Cash Carl Perkins

28 Buddy Holly Enjoyed greater success in Great Britain than in US Was a Texas-born rockabilly who reached the pop audience Signed to Decca Records in 1955, wore “coke-bottle” glasses The Crickets – That’ll Be the Day in 1957 Never had a country hit Died in plane crash Day 9: Rockabilly continued…

29 The Reaction to Rock ‘n’ Roll The Eisenhower Era – Dwight D. Eisenhower was conservative, old- fashioned, bland, polite, and conventional – Only bland music was released “Family Life” in the 1950s – Teenagers rebelled Rock ‘n’ Roll represented everything that white, middle-class parents feared (the “devil’s music,” NAACP strategy for recruiting young whites, or a communist plot to undermine the moral fiber of the younger generation)

30 Day 10: The Established Powers Fight Back Revenues from record sales climbed from $213 million in 1954 to $603 million in 1959 The pop market, and music industry, tripled during the 1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll was here to stay “War on Rock” – Established powers of the music industry joined forces with the US Government in an attempt to suppress the music ASCAP - American Society of Composers, Authors, & Publishers

31 Covering the Bases Cover records not only altered the style of the music but also the lyrics – Were released during the expected chart life of the original – Often outsold the original How could cover records be beneficial? Pat Boone – Built his career sanitizing the classics – This kept him from being inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame

32 Pop Diversions U.S. Calypso RCA and Columbia records led the push Harry Belafonte – Banana Boat, established the tone and content of the style Popular Folk Music Kingston Trio – Clean-cut image, brightly colored matching shirts, and upscale college humor (white). – Signed to Capital Records in 1957, released 18 albums that made the Top 20

33 Schlock Rock Philadelphia was the major hub 3 Independent Labels: Chancellor, Cameo/Parkway, and Swan – Transformed local teenagers into teen idols – Focused on image, not talent (boy-next-door)

34 Day 11: Schlock Rock continued… Italian American artists – Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, Freddy Cannon, Bobby Darin, Annette Funicello – Felt compelled to Anglicize their names Chubby Checker – African American superstar – The Twist was the first dance craze – Original name was Ernest Evans

35 American Bandstand TV Show that began in 1952 as a local Philadelphia broadcast on an ABC affiliate Dick Clark took over the show in 1956 and was known as the “perpetual teenager” In the early years, only white performers appeared on the show Promoted rock ‘n’ roll via TV

36 Television’s Greatest Hits Mickey Mouse Club – Launched Annette Funicello’s R&R career – Started the mouseketeer craze The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet – Starred Ricky Nelson – A Teenager’s Romance went to #2

37 Songwriters Paul Anka – Diana Neil Sedaka – Calendar Girl Brill Building (1619 Broadway, NYC)

38 Day 14: The Official Attack on Rock ‘n’ Roll By the mid 1950s, R&R had become the focal point for all of society’s fears of violence, juvenile delinquency, and general moral decline. R&R brought styles of music that were considered class- and race-specific into the mainstream. Religious organizations supplied lists of inappropriate records. Towns set up review boards to screen new releases. Police confiscated offensive records and jukeboxes. Payola – paying for play – Payola Hearings

39 Surf’s Up! Surf music emerged in the early 1960s. – Vocal and Instrumental varieties – Only lasted from – Made R&R white and middle class. – Surfing = easy going lifestyle – British Invasion wiped out the genre

40 Surf Groups Surfari’s – Wipe Out (only instruments) Guitar-Based Groups – Duane Eddy and the Rebels – The Ventures Established the instrumentation of the classic R&R quartet – electric guitar, rhythm, bass guitar, & drums

41 The Beach Boys Defined Surf Music A Family Affair Wrote songs that elevated the sport to a metaphor for the American Dream Surfin’ USA Signed with Capital Records in 1962 Brian Wilson was the group’s main song writer, arranger, and producer


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