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MUSC 2150
Shannon Carter

Chapter 2: The Birth and First Flourishing of Rock and Roll September-16-12 7:13 PM Chapter Study Outline [1955-1960] 1. The Rise of Youth Culture in the 1950s 1. Pop culture devoted exclusively to teenagers o beginning after world war 2, o unlike previous generations where teenagers became and lived as adults at the end of high school the teenagers in the 1950's avoided adult responsibility for much longer than any other generation had previously Political stability and affluence  Relative to life pre-war, the teenagers of the 1950's had money to spend on leisure items Normalcy  The white middle class society was attempting to return to normal life after having the massive disruption that the war created  Families that had to be so focused on the war turned their attention to their children, regaining focus on their education and their general happiness Rebellion against conservatism Worries about juvenile delinquency  This was heavily portrayed in movies [the wild one, rebel without a cause]  The soundtracks to these films were orchestrated and very traditional "Rock Around the Clock"  Featured in Blackboard Jungle  This film was incredibly successful and lead to youth riots in some theaters, and as a result this song (by Bill Haley) shot to the top of the pop charts  The nature of the film (centered around teen rebellion) increased the association that rock music had with rebels and rowdiness  The success of this album also encouraged many more artists to release music with a similar R&B feel 2. Radio and Records 1. Rise of the disc jockey  Most white teenagers heard R&B for the first time on the radio  Radios became inexpensive  Most middle class white (and black) families had a table top radio in the early 1950's  The transistor made it so that radios were basically affordable to everyone  Rock-oriented radio shows  The Moondog Show  Sponsored by Leo Mintz, who notices that teenagers were purchasing large numbers of R&B records  First aired in 1951  Cleveland  The station playing the Moondog show was WJW, with a wide range that extended beyond the Ohio state lines  Alan Freed  Originally reluctant to DJ the Moondog show, Alan Freed became one of the first DJ's to develop an R&B program  He is often referred to as the most influential DJ with regards to the growth and popularity of Rock-n-roll Red, Hot and Blue  Memphis  Dewey Phillips  R&B DJ prior to Alan Freed, located in Memphis  Black DJs became more numerous during the 1950s  Many people thought that the DJ's promoting R&B music were black, however, the DJ's that influenced Alan Freed's shows were white  Prior to 1950, 16 out of the approximate 3000 DJ's were black, in the late 40's and early 50's black DJs began to make their mark on the radio 4. Expansion of Freed's efforts  Freed moved the Moondog show to New York in 1954  The Rock and Roll Party  Freed also took credit for coining the term Rock and Roll  Because of issues with the naming rights of the Moondog show, Freed's New York show was named the rock and roll party  New York  Nationally syndicated  The rock and roll party was aired nationally, as well as in Europe, allowing Freed to create a large amount of buzz for R&B music with white teenagers Concert tour  The Big Beat concert show in 1958  Included Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly  Often portrayed by the press as teen riots Films  Films like Rock around the clock and Don’t knock the rock were produced quickly, had very thin plots, and were basically an excuse to have a lot of rock artists in one place Television dance show  Aired from 1958-1960 Aggressive Marketing Independent record companies used radio to market records  Because independent labels did not have their own distributors, they had to make arrangements with other indie labels, and marketing became crucial in being able to make back the money they had to spend to make a record Participation of DJs was crucial They had to develop relationships with the DJs to get their songs played on the radio, and it was common practice to pay DJs in cash or gifts to have their songs played [this was called payola] Jukeboxes  Jukeboxes were found in bars and restaurants, and were a way to introduce listeners to a song (similarly to how the radio worked -> the more people heard it, the more would buy it) Payola used to overcome dominance by majors  Payola was used by BOTH major and independent labels  It had the greatest benefit to indie labels though, because they used it more often [they had a far greater risk producing an artist than the major labels who had large capitols] 3. Crossover and Covers 1. Charts developed to show trends to businesspeople o If a trend was visible in the music that people were listening to, they could ensure they had the right amount of that product to maximum their profits o Cashbox and billboard were the most important magazines that displayed these trends in the history of US rock'n'roll Cashbox  Used by jukebox distributors to decide which records to add/remove on their service visits Billboard  Used by store owners to decide which products to order [and in what volume to order them], as well as which products to return to the distributors o Three parallel charts according to marketing o The three markets charts were R&B [black, urban audiences], Country and western [low-income, white audiences], and pop charts [white, middle-class] o This arrangement of charts [although it can lead to a few assumptions as far as who would and would not enjoy the different types of music] was more or less used to predict which audiences were most likely to purchase the types of music, and therefore which audiences they should spend their money marketing to o Crossover o A softening of the boundaries between the chart classifications began in the early '50's Record or song appearing on more than one chart In a prominent position [ex. Top 40] Rhythm and blues crossovers from 1954  From 50-53: 10% of R&B hits crossed over  In 54: 25% crossed over  By 58: 94% crossed over Cover versions by white artists  R&B hits [usually performed by black artists] were covered by white artists  The white covers usually outperformed the originals on pop charts  This was a source of resentment amongst black artists [race played a major role in the taste of pop listeners] 4. The First Rock and Rollers Cross Over 1. Fats Domino o Antoine "fats" Domino Imperial Records Among the first rockers to consistently cross over  "Ain't it a shame" was his first cross over (in 1955)  Thirty-seven Top 40 singles, 1955–––1963 4. Warm, friendly image  Played triplet chords on the piano, and performed in a very relaxed manner  Didn't trigger the anxiety in white listeners (unlike Joe Turner) o Chuck Berry o Charles Edward Anderson Berry' Chess Records Introduced by Muddy Waters Vocal delivery influenced by country music  "Maybellene" (a cover of a country song) hit #1 on the R&B charts, and crossed over to pop charts in 1955  Because of his voice and style, many listeners assumed he was white Songwriting Often targeted teens  Many of his songs had digs at conservative culture, but was done in a playful and non-assaulting manner Story songs  The kind of songs he usually performed  Musical style  Simple verse, simple verse-chorus  12-bar blues  His chord structure that he used in his songs was influenced by the 12-bar blues style  Distinctive guitar style  Both were trademarks of Berry Two-string boogie-woogie Double stops  "Johnny B Goode" is the best example of the double stop o Little Richard o Richard Wayne Penniman o Most flamboyant performer in the early years of rock Specialty Records Independent label based in Hollywood "Tutti Frutti" crossed over to pop charts in 55 First to adopt "wild man" persona in rock and roll  Maniacal singing, piano pounding, strong rhythm section  Massive contrast to Fats Domino Target for cover artists  Because of his performance style [although attractive to white teens, he did not do well in the pop market], and sexual lyrics [deemed inappropriate for pop audiences] he was covered A LOT  The white artists covering his music removed most of the sexual innuendos from his lyrics, and even though the covers weren't as exciting as the originals, they usually out performed them Whitening rhythm and blues  Replacing references to sexuality with references to dancing  Bill Haley  Represented a whiter R&B, but also had popularity with black audiences  Represented by Decca "Rock Around the Clock" Made popular by its use in Blackboard Jungle "Shake, Rattle and Roll"  Removed most of the sexuality from Joe Turner`s original version Pat Boone  One of the most successful artists in the years of early rock`n`roll  Had a main stream pop style similar to Frank Sinatra but included R&B, country western and gospel  Depended on and fueled by the rise of rock`n`roll "Ain't That a Shame" Cover of Fats Domino [renamed] "Tutti Frutti"  Cover of little Richards, which surpassed the original on the charts Controversy over cover versions Covers resented by some black performers  Reduced crossover potential  Because the songs were covered for a particular market, the original artists had a harder time benefiting from a cross over  Benefited white performers and record company employees  R&B artists were usually paid a flat
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