A DJ from Cleveland Ohio, Alan Freed, is credited for coining the phrase “rock and roll”, referring to the newest style of music brought to the airwaves during that time.  One of the records played was Roy Brown’s “Good Rocking Tonight”, making the first ostensible reference to sex through music.



Alan “Moondog” Freed organizes the first rock and roll concert in Cleveland called the “Moondog Coronation Ball”. The audience and the performers were mixed in race and the evening ended after one song almost ended in a riot.



Elvis Presley begins recording and performing the hit titled “That’s Alright Mama”, a rock/country-western fusion known as rockabilly.  His unique vocals and instrumental sounds earned him the title the “King of Rock ‘N Roll”, and Elvis became known as the first teen idol and most famous musical celebrity to date.


American rock influences The United Kingdom, and a new group called Cliff Richards and the Drifters was formed.  Racial barriers weren’t as much trouble in The U.K., and teens quickly embraced the new style of music known as The British Invasion (1964-1969).  Richards is credited for the ideas of a “lead guitarist” and “electric bass guitar”, which would pave the way for other British groups like The Beatles.

Early 1960’s

Rockabilly hits the West Coast and transforms into a mostly instrumental version infused with vocal harmonies, referred to as “surf music”.  This music features more heavily played guitar, thus influencing modern heavy metal later on.  Popular artists in this era were The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean.


The Beatles make an appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”, making TV history for rock and roll.  Other British bands followed suit, including The Rolling Stones, The Animals, and The Who, introducing an edgier sound to British Rock.


Bob Dylan releases the tune “Like a Rolling Stone” to mainstream radio.  With over 6 minutes of playing time and intense poetic contents, this would forever change all preconceived notions of what radio music should sound like. 


The Rolling Stones are credited with being the first band to do away with band uniforms.  The lead to longer, untamed hairstyles, radical clothing changes, and a more “wild” look compared to previous bands that had a more “clean-cut” appearance.

Late 1960’s

As a reaction to the Vietnam war, drugs, and social injustices, a new wave of music called psychedellic rock is ushered in.  Artists like The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and Jefferson Airplane play a large roll in changing the sound of music with dramatic guitar riffs and electronic sounds.  The British had their own versions of this music style, as featured by the popular group Pink Floyd.  The culmination of this style of music was brought to fruition by the mass gathering for peace and love through music at the famous three-day gathering called Woodstock.


Transition from 60’s psychadelic styles became more sexually charged, creating a metamorphosis into a more free form of music in the 80’s.  Blues-rock bands were formed, including Cream and Led Zepplin, who would later influence heavy metal bands such as Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.  These bands were ruled by the heavy guitar sounds and stunning on-stage performances.


A new dance-style of music, influenced by earlier funk bands of the early 1970’s, began to emerge called disco.  Popular groups such as K.C and the Sunshine Band, The O’Jays, The Bee Gees, Barry White, and Gloria Gaynor topped the charts with their versions of the disco beat.  The style created a need for disco clubs nation-wide, including the famous Studio 54, and a new need for teens to gather together for a more sexually charged style of dance, as featured in 1977’s Saturday Night Fever.  The trend wouldn’t last long as people became increasingly upset at the loss of more classic rock sounds. The anti-disco movement culminated in the disco demolition riot in Chicago during the summer of 1979.


New pop groups emerged on the scene, like Van Halen, Queen, The Go-Go’s, and Michael Jackson.  These artists became more mainstream in music, appealing to a wider variety of people.  Some of these were the ever famous “hair bands”, such as Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, and Ratt, whose sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle began to sway public opinion of the bands’ normal behaviors.  Rock and roll became more of a lifesyle as well as a musical style.  Many current music channels today report on many bands’ quick climax to fame, only to come crashing down due to substance abuse, lawsuits, and the consequences of over spending.


New alternative rock groups like Pearl Jam and Nirvana emerged on the scene, completely wiping out former hair bands with their more mellow, depressed sounds of reality-based lyrics called grunge.  In 1994, the leader of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, fatally shot himself, leaving a wife and daughter behind.  In 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur was shot and killed in Las Vegas.  Shortly after, in March of 1997, Christopher Wallace (a.k.a. Biggie Smalls or The Notorious B.I.G.) was shot in Los Angeles.  Both parties had succumbed to gang violence and east coast/west coast feuds, resulting in the death of two artists.

Early 2000

The music industry takes on the major music-sharing company Napster in an effort to permanently ban music piracy.  They win, forming the group RIAA, and for the first time pitting the public against the very artists they idolize.  Shortly after that, American Idol debuts, allowing the general public to choose from a variety of artists of their discretion.


Sean Combs, also knows as Puff Daddy, P. Diddy etc., begins the “Vote or Die” campaign, enlisting several musicians and celebrities to stand and vote in the very divided election of that year.  He will use his position of power in the music industry to have an influence on the young Americans in the nation to vote their opinions.  However, in the wake of the election, several of his recruits for the cause never even registered to voice their opinions.