Queued up on the turntable is what many music experts consider to be the first "Rock & Roll" song,
"Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston from 1951.
Scroll down to follow the evolution of Rock 'n' Roll.
Alan Freed (1921-1965)
Alan Freed is commonly referred to as the "Father of Rock 'n' Roll" due to his
promotion of the style of music, and his introduction of the phrase "Rock and Roll", in
reference to the musical genre, on mainstream radio in the early 1950s.
On July 11, 1951, Freed began playing rhythm and blues records on WJW, Cleveland,
Ohio. While R&B records were played for many years on lower powered, inner city radio
stations aimed at African-Americans, this is arguably the first time that authentic R&B
was featured regularly on a major, mass audience station. Freed called his show "The
Moondog House" and billed himself as "The King of the Moondoggers". He had been
inspired by an offbeat instrumental called "Moondog Symphony" that had been recorded
by New York street musician Louis T. Hardin, aka "Moondog". Freed adopted the record
as his show's theme music. His on-air manner was energetic, in contrast to many
contemporary radio presenters of traditional pop music, who tended to sound more
subdued and low-key in manner. He addressed his listeners as if they were all part of a
make-believe kingdom of hipsters, united in their love for black music. He also began
popularizing the phrase "Rock and Roll" to describe the music he played.
The two major ingredients involved in the origin and evolution of "Rock and Roll" were the intruduction of the 45 RPM record by RCA in March, 1949 and Alan Freed's pioneering introduction of "Rock and Roll" to main-stream America. Between the years 1949 and 1954, popular AM radio play and the "Top 10 Record Charts" were dominated by mostly white singers and their middle-of-the-road tunes. But on July 17th, 1954 something musically ground-breaking took place. For the very first time, a "Rock and Roll" song made it onto the Billboard Top Ten Chart. It was "Sh-Boom" by the Chords. This was the beginning, and by January, 1957 almost all top 30 Billboard songs were catagoized as "Rock and Roll". In the span of only 30 months the whole popular music landscape changed completely. The graph below illustrates month-by month how this new music made its impact on the popular record charts.
|Jul 1954||Aug 1954||Sep 1954||Oct 1954||Nov 1954||Dec 1954||Jan 1955||Feb 1955||Mar 1955||Apr 1955||May 1955||Jun 1955||Jul 1955||Aug 1955||Sep 1955||Oct 1955||Nov 1955||Dec 1955||Jan 1956||Feb 1956||Mar 1956||Apr 1956||May 1956||Jun 1956||Jul 1956||Aug 1956||Sep 1956||Oct 1956||Nov 1956||Dec 1956|