It’s difficult to really define what Rock and Roll music is, or where it really started, but Rock and Roll is definitely when guitar playing as we now know it started.
Elvis Presley must be given some of the credit for it, with his hips swinging and the raunchiness of the songs, although he did not really play guitar well at the time. He did however start the craze of screaming girls at his shows, it was all about sex really, and in fact that is how it got the name Rock & Roll.
The roots of Rock & Roll go back to the late 40’s, and were influenced by blues and gospel music later the big band swing, and rhythm and blues; it was also influenced by country guitar music.
Some of the artist’s of the time such as Elvis Presley with “That’s Alright Mama” and Bill Hayley’s “Rock Around The Clock”, at the time the piano was the main instrument in the band, until Chuck Berry turned up with songs like “Johnny Be Good” with that famous Guitar Riff, which we still hear today.
I had the pleasure of seeing Chuck Berry playing live in Leicester, England; he was 64 years old then, but still Rocking, a great show.
England’s answer to Elvis Presley was Cliff Richards and the Shadows, (which were basically an electric guitar band) with “Living Doll”, unfortunately Cliff didn’t make it big in America, but he is still going strong in England at the ripe age of 80 and has just released his latest album.
In the early 60´s we saw the start of what was to be called “The Swinging 60’s” or sometimes “The Golden Age of Rock and Roll”, the biggest Band was The Beatles who when they played could not even hear themselves because of the screaming girls, and poor P.A. systems.
The Beatles were the first British artist’s to make it big in the U.S.A.; they were unique then as they wrote most of the song’s that they performed, and in fact they changed music, and the rules of the music we hear today.
They also wrote “I Wanna Be Your Man” which became the first hit record for the Rolling Stones, who also made it in the United States, and they still perform sellout concerts to this day, even at their age, so there’s hope for us all yet.
In the late 60’s-early 70’s we had the Glam Rock and the psychedelic era, and saw bands such as Jefferson Airplane, T Rex, Mud, and Wizard as well as Jimmy Hendrix and David Bowie, the style of guitar playing became more aggressive with a rise into Hard Rock and Heavy metal, we saw AC/DC, Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin.
It is my belief that Rock and Roll music will be with us in some form or another for a long time yet, and people will still be influenced by it, and will continue to buy records and learn to play guitar, whichever style of music they choose to play, it is all related anyway.
I hope that you can see now how Rock and Roll Guitar was a mixture of Blues, Country Guitar music, as well as Swing and Rhythm and blues.
I hope that you have found this article of interest, it has been written out of my love of this type of music, and in particular my love of good guitar playing.
Please feel free to comment on it, and to share it with others.
Keep on playing