American Music in the United States

Rock & Roll

Rock music originated in the United States in the mid-1950s and became increasingly popular throughout much of the world.

Essentially hybrid in origin, rock music includes elements of several black and white American music styles:

black guitar-accompanied blues

black rhythm and blues, noted for saxophone solos

black and white gospel music

white country and western music

songs of white popular crooners and harmony groups

Emerging in 1954-55, rock music was initially referred to as “rock 'n' roll.” After 1964 it was simply called “rock music.” The change in terminology indicates both a continuity with and a break from the earlier period; rock music was no longer just for dancing. After 1964 the music was influenced by British groups such as the Beatles.

Rock music falls into the following eras:

The 1950s—Bill Haley and Rock 'n' Roll
The Late 1950s and Early 60s—Elvis, Motown, and the British Invasion
The Late 1960s and Early 70s—Rock's Golden Age
The Late 1970s to the Present—Punk Rock, the Music Video, and Middle-aged Rockers