You may be wondering when exactly rock/pop music started. There is no clear answer to this. Some might say it started with the advent of rock n roll with Bill Haley and the Comets in 1952. Others would say Elvis, though not the first, but surely the original truly global superstar. However, none of them were really the first. Rock n roll has its roots in the blues, dating back to the 19th century with black immigrants trying to escape their enslaved lives. Fast forward to the early 20 century and some of the earliest recordings in ’78 began to appear. Musicians from this era, such as Bobby Jo and Robert Johnson, helped form the structure of the early blues.

Robert Johnson had recorded only thirty songs during his short life, as a jealous husband prevented him from achieving true fame in his lifetime. He died shortly before producer John Hammond sought him out to appear at the ‘Spirituals To Swing’ concert in 1938. As a result, his reputation only took off after Hammond released an album of his recordings for Columbia in early of the sixties. Later blues exponents like Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton admitted to borrowing heavily from these early stalwarts.

In the 1950s, artists took the basic blues style and used electric guitars, drums, and double bass for the first time creating early rock and roll, later known as rockabilly. Stalwarts like Chuck Berry, Buddy Hollie and Jerry Lee Lewis were the most famous leading men here. Later, Elvis in the US and, to a lesser extent, Cliff Richard (later fronting the Shadows) in the UK brought rock and roll to a truly global audience. This paved the way for the beat era of the 1960s, which could be considered the true beginning of pop music as we know it today, certainly as far as bands are concerned.

In the ’50s and early ’60s, most were lead soloists with only a backing band. With the advent of the beat era, bands dominated with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys from the US taking the world by storm. Even so, The Beatles later admitted to being heavily influenced by those early rock and roll and blues artists. They mostly played rock and roll and blues covers at their pre-fame concerts in Hamburg. in the early ’60s. The Beatles, however, were the first band to successfully combine the textures of classical music with rock and roll to form perfectly crafted pop songs. While bands like The Rolling Stones continued to be primarily rock and roll in theme,

The Beatles took their finely crafted style further on the seminal album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ in 1967 using new studio techniques and instruments never used before. They used a new instrument called the ‘Melotron’. This was basically a keyboard that played tape recordings on a loop. of real instruments. The most famous sound from this was probably the flute used on the ‘Strawberry Fields’ single recorded at the same time but later removed from the album. However, the Melotron was cumbersome and unreliable and had a rather grainy sound. Even so, it was considered the forerunner of the electronic sampler, invented almost 20 years later. Infinitely more flexible than the Melotron, the sampler helped build the framework for modern pop, dance, and R&B music.

The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’ album with its innovative recording techniques was preceded the previous year by their ‘Revolver’ album. These LPs helped popularize a new wave in music known as psychedelic or acid rock, named for the mind-bending effects of the LSD drug. Pink Floyd also recorded their debut album ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ in the studio next door at the same time The Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper. It was reported that Pink Floyd was a direct influence on The Beatles as a result. This new style incorporated new guitar effects such as Fuzz, Angry Flanger, and Delays. These were used in conjunction with early portable synthesizers, such as the Therein and the Moog mini. Invented by Bob Moog.

In America, the Beach Boys responded with the ‘Pet sounds’ LP in 1966 and that same year released the first major psychedelic hit ‘Good Vibrations’. Around this time, the band ‘Jefferson Airplane’ recorded their debut album, which was also the first LP to come out of the new San Francisco music scene. This caught the attention of the recording industry and they had two early psychedelic hits ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Somebody to Love’ in 1967.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Jim Morrison joined up with members of The Psychedelic Rangers and Rick and the Ravens to form ‘The Doors’. Columbia initially turned them down, but they signed to Electra Records and released their self-titled debut LP in 1967. The album included the 7-minute hit single “Light my Fire,” one of the first to break the typical hit song barrier. three-minute pop and rock.

In Britain radio broadcasting was very limited because the BBC was the only organization allowed to broadcast on the Continent and only had two pop music programmes. from ships at sea with DJ John Peel’, allowing the new style to reach a mass audience, often eclipsing the BBC in popularity. The BBC responded in the end with the advent of Radio 1 in June 1967. With the existing Labor government outlawing pirate radio in Britain several months later, Du’s like John Peel, rather than risk arrest, joined radio 1, which had a much more casual and relaxed atmosphere. opposite style to the serious and conservative approach favored by the BBC until then. This perfectly suited psychedelic pop and rock and John Peel championed this at their late night shows. play new genres of music and introduce new and unsigned bands at the Peel sessions. He did this for almost four decades until his death in 2004.

In the late ’60s, following the dissolution of the Beatles, mainstream music was about to change direction yet again, both in style and fashion.


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