’50s Rock Essentials
First-gen rock 'n' roll was rebel music from the jump. Early '50s rock originators came from the R&B end of things like Fats Domino, the rockabilly realm as with Elvis, and the bluesy side à la Bo Diddley; they all pushed through to the next level, expressing an unfettered sexuality with riffs and rhythms wilder than anything that had come before. In the process these early rockers changed the way America thought, acted, and most importantly, danced. For the first time in the country’s history, there was a real youth music. With the emergence of pioneers like madman piano-pounder Little Richard, pop-savvy tunesmith Buddy Holly, and rock guitar visionary Chuck Berry, suddenly young people were both the subject of and the market of a music that was seemingly just for them. Teenagers became an entity unto themselves rather than just a barely acknowledged, awkward transitional stop between childhood and adulthood. In short, rock ‘n’ roll had arrived.