Rock music is often associated with heavy instrumentation, reverberating through a sound system, and played by hyperactive musicians wearing all-black garb. This kind of music has enjoyed over half a century of popularity with its strong beat and catchy melody.
Rock music started in the 1940s and the 1950s as a fusion of rhythm and blues, gospel music, and country music. Originally known as rock and roll, as branded by disc jockey Alan Feed from Ohio, rock music combined influences resulted in simple blues-based style that was fast and danceable.
Instrumentation for rock music often include electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, and keyboards. Others add to their line-up reed instruments like the saxophone and the French horn. String instruments like the mandolin and the sitar are occasionally seen in the realm of rock music. Of all these instrumentations, it is the guitar that is considered to be the star of the show. Guitars come as solid electric, hollow electric or acoustic.
The electric guitar was played rock and roll style by early rock legends Chuck Berry, Link Wray and Scotty Moore. Texas blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan played a fusion of blues and rock. As multitrack recording was developed by Les Paul along with electronic sound treatment by Joe Meek, it was not long after when rock music artists like Jackie Breston and Bill Haley came out with their first rock and roll records. Breston released his record Rocket 88 under recording label Sun Records. And then several years after, Haleys Rock Around the Clock was launched and topped the charts of Billboard magazine in terms of record sales and airtime plays. Sun Records also produced rock and roll king Elvis Presleys first single labelled Thats All Right (Mama). Shake, Rattle & Roll of Big Joe Turner was also topping the Billboard R&B charts during this time.
The fusioning of rock music extended into the 1960s and the 1970s, with rock music being combined with folk music to create folk rock, with blues to create blues-rock, and with jazz to create jazz rock. Electrical instrument ambiance was incorporated into rock music to create the carefree psychedelic rock. Influences from soul, funk and latin music were integrated with rock music to pave way for subgenres as soft rock, heavy metal, hard rock, progressive rock, and punk rock.
Rock music took a metallic turn in the 1980s and 1990s with the entry of rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Queen, Aerosmith, Kiss, AC/DC and Black Sabbath. Hard rockers heightened the commercialization of rock and roll with albums and concerts being launched all over the country. Arenas and other similar big venues were used as a places to gather crowds and crowds of rock music fans. Live performances in rock concerts had rock fans screaming and going wild over rock bands performing to full performance level complete with stage design and pyrotechnics.
Some of the other developments in rock music are retro style grunge, theatrical glam rock (Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and the New York Dolls), intense Britpop (John Lennon and the Beatles), indie rock and nu rock (Police, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, and the Culture Club).
Rock music has not been as popular with music critics at some point in time owing to its dark and overly loud metallic sound. But innovations and developments in look, style and sound has slowly developed a following for rock music not only in the young crowd but for the public in general as well. Rock music still manages to chalk up big hits in popular music.