Rock music is a unique genre of music. It has a characteristic rhythm, form of motion, and role of a guitar. Rock music has many directions, ranging from dance rock ‘n’ roll to heavy metal. The content of songs varies from simple and routine stories to deep and philosophical reflections. Usually, this music preaches freedom from any social principles and stereotypes. In turn, many people that join the rock culture tend to isolate themselves from the outside world; some support their life philosophy by abusing alcohol and drugs. At different times, rock music has played a significant role in the life and development of the society. The genre has passed a long way; today, it comprises numerous styles. This paper will explore the history of the rock music development from the 1950s to the 2000s.
Among those who created the rock 'n' roll genre, the most important names are Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Fets Domino. Chuck Berry laid the foundation of the rock style in lyrics, image, and guitar playing (Fowles & Wade, 2012, p. 79). The name of Little Richard should be stressed among other influential African American musicians who performed rock 'n' roll. He affected the further formation of rock and punk with his unique style of singing and playing that was highly aggressive and assertive (Fowles & Wade, 2012, p. 83). In the beginning, the rock 'n' roll music was considered a specific genre for the African-American people. However, in the later years, it became popular among white musicians. A breakthrough and passage from the rock 'n' roll to the mainstream music were marked by the song of Bill Haley, Rock around the Clock (Fowles & Wade, 2012, p. 89). However, Elvis Presley was the one to receive the title of a King of Rock 'n' Roll. Despite his amazing popularity and cult that were largely exaggerated as compared to his musical achievements, he was the first white man to record rock 'n' roll pieces just as other black musicians did (Fowles & Wade, 2012, p. 92). Another famous performer of the white rock 'n' roll was Jerry Lee Lewis, nicknamed the Killer, because of his harrowing manner of performance and playing the piano. A little later, a softer form of the white rock 'n' roll appeared; it was associated primarily with the names of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers (Fowles & Wade, 2012, p. 95).
The golden era of the rock music occurred in the second half of the 1960s (Robins, 2016, p. 134). The period was called the human warming; it witnessed the emergence of the hippie movement in the US, numerous music bands, and the youth revolution in Europe (Robins, 2016, p. 140). It preached the denial of traditional social and cultural values. As a result, there were many experimental, psychedelic, and somewhat unconventional songs. In addition, significant changes took place in the appearance and behavior of rock musicians. For example, members of the Beatles had neat haircuts and wore costumes in the hippie manner. Rock bands of the time went beyond the traditional framework and felt free to develop in different directions.
In the 1970s, along with the hard rock, a new style of the rock music, glam rock, developed (Robins, 2016, p. 152). In some ways, it demonstrated the opposite side of the complicated and difficult to understand progressive rock. The main goal of this style was providing a simplistic perception of music that presupposed a catchy and bright stage image, as well as a spectacular and colorful show, which was accompanied by the music performance. In the late 1970s, punk rock style gained its popularity (Robins, 2016, p. 155). It superseded the progressive rock that originated in England. Punk bands were often careless and played primitive music that was compensated by sarcastic and critical lyrics and anarchic energy. In the early 1980s, the world was swept by the new wave (Robins, 2016, p. 174). The music bands of that experimented with different styles freely. They were mixing the gothic rock with big-bit or punk rock with heavy metal, for example. At the same time, the heavy metal music was gaining its popularity.
In the early 1990s, the music mainstream experienced a crisis; it was supported by minor pop-rock and electro-pop stars. However, in the 1990s, a breakthrough in the alternative music occurred. The popular (pop) music entered the mainstream quickly; however, it faced strong opposition from radical fans (Fowles & Wade, 2012, p. 108). In turn, this situation had a significant positive moment; opposing alternative subcultures (indie, punk, metal, and techno) began to cooperate and seek new ways to resist the pop mainstream. One of the main achievements of the 1990s was the creation and development of the grunge that was represented by such bands as Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Soundgarden (Robins, 2016, p. 185). Until 1991, grunge had been developing as an underground phenomenon. The turning point in the music of the 1990's was marked by an unexpectedly great success of the album of the grunge band, Nirvana, which was titled Nevermind (Valdez, 2010, p. 120). At that moment, the indie music entered the American television and radio. Nirvana’s leader, Kurt Cobain, was named a voice of a generation. Nirvana’s music was the heart and soul of grunge. It was stringy, desperate, depressed, gloomy, and built on repetitive riffs of the mix of alternative and punk rock. Despite the overall decline in the popularity of the heavy metal, the thrash metal and other traditional substyles, some large traditional metal figures appeared in the late 1990s (Valdez, 2010, p. 118). The rock group, Pantera, had a crucial effect on the formation of the post-thrash groove metal. In the 1990s, another wave of the black metal took place. It was significantly affected by symphonic and gothic metal. Such bands as Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir achieved the greatest commercial success in the history of the black metal. Also, the presented period marked the commercialization of the rock music.
In the 2000s, music bands offered more traditional rock music and less innovative styles (Robins, 2016, p. 187). In fact, from 2000 to 2009, the rock music did not develop any new major genre (Valdez, 2010, p. 122). This crisis was offset by the revival and further development of a number of sub-genres of alternative rock. Primarily, they included the garage rock, post-punk, and Britpop. One of the first bands that revived the garage rock was The White Stripes, the music of which was characterized by metal riffs of the 1970s, strong punk rock energy, and the garage performance of the pieces, which used the elements of folk, country, and especially the blues-rock (Valdez, 2010, p. 134). In addition, basic garage rock bands included the Strokes, the Vines, and the Hives. The revival of the progressive rock began in the 1990s. However, at the beginning of the 21st century, the level of its popularity almost reached the level of the mid-1970s when the subgenre of rock music experienced its biggest popularity (Valdez, 2010, p. 135). The popularization of the progressive rock was supported by the British band, the Porcupine Tree, which was the main progressive group in Europe. However, a significant contribution to the development of the neo-progressive style, which was detached from its grandparent was made by the Mexican- American band, Mars Volta, which was formed in the 2000s (Valdez, 2010, p. 140).
To conclude, the rock music has a long history of development and improvement. The historical facts demonstrate that since the very beginning, it was a significant part of the society. Each period of the music had its famous representatives such as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, or Nirvana, for example. Despite the fact that the named artists and bands lived in different decades, their music had a lot in common. It had mutual features because every new genre developed from its musical predecessor and added some new elements, which made the rock music even better.