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Subject: Rock n Roll - 50 Years Young

Written By: BrianMannixGirl on 06/27/04 at 1:10 am

I enjoyed reading this article in The Australian this morning and thought I would share it.

Shake, rattle & rock on
By Iain Shedden
June 26, 2004

LET'S suppose, for a moment, that when 19-year-old Elvis Presley entered Memphis's Sun Studios in July 5, 1954, to make his first professional recording, instead of rocking out he had rallied his fellow musicians Bill Black and Scotty Moore, waited for Sam Phillips to roll the tape, then bellowed into the microphone: "OK, fellas, let's waltz."

Where would we be now? Would the Stones have got as far as recording It's Only a Waltz But I Like It? Would AC/DC have found it a long way to the top in order to waltz? Would rock'n'roll as we have known it for the past 50 years exist?

Well, most likely it would, but without Elvis's sudden rush of blood to the head it might have taken a little longer to turn the world upside down.

But here we are in 2004 and a musical form spawned - at least in part - from Elvis's moment of magic is still with us, bigger than ever and splintered into hundreds of sub-genres.

Elvis is not solely responsible for rock's place in popular culture. Bill Haley, Big Joe Turner, Little Richard and a host of others could rightfully claim to have had some say in its birth. But the King remains the most recognised fountainhead of a musical form that gave youth culture a focus beyond stamp collecting and hanging out at the mall. What's more - and despite what you may have read in a variety of journals - Elvis has been dead for 27 years, yet his legacy lives on.

Of course nay-sayers have been predicting the demise of rock'n'roll pretty much since the day it was invented. "Just a fad," some said. "Give it six months." Every new fad or music phenomenon that has come along since - hip-hop, electronica, disco - has led enthusiasts to proclaim rock is dead, but no amount of counter-culture or technological advancement has been able to wipe out the basic, some would say primal, energy of rock'n'roll.

Throughout those 50 years there have been moments of reinvention, revolution and tragedy. There have been events that have shaped how Australians perceived rock'n'roll and others where Australian rock'n'roll has made an impact on a global scale.

Although a worldwide phenomenon, rock'n'roll has a distinctly personal bent. It means different things to different people. We all have songs that link us to significant events in our lives. Such subjectiveness leaves defining rock'n'roll lists open to debate.

The one on these pages highlights the salient points in a half-century of rock'n'roll, moments that have altered its course for the better or for worse, sometimes in tragic circumstances, often with a spark of genius in their wake. It incorporates events particularly significant to the development and continued relevance of rock in Australia, but most of all it's a signpost to the vast wealth of great music that has emerged since that pivotal moment when Elvis decided truck driving wasn't for him and chose to do That's All Right in his inimitable style.

1. July 5, 1954: The King, bassist Black and guitarist Moore start jamming on a souped-up version of Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's blues number That's All Right. Producer Phillips, realising he's on to something, gets the trio to run through the song one more time and rolls the tape. The result is rock'n'roll.

2. July 9, 1955: Bill Haley, a former country singer, had a hit rock'n'roll song, Crazy Man Crazy, in the US a year before Elvis's landmark recording of That's All Right. But it is Rock Around the Clock, recorded in June 1954 with his band the Comets, that features in the film Blackboard Jungle and becomes the first international rock'n'roll hit.

3. August 20, 1955: Chicago R&B singer Chuck Berry scores his first rock'n'roll success with the song Maybellene. Berry's lyrical grasp on youth culture will inspire many more hits, such as Roll Over Beethoven and Sweet Little Sixteen, while his rhythm guitar style remains the biggest influence on aspiring rock gods.

4. January 8, 1957: Bill Haley and the Comets headline the first big rock'n'roll package tour of Australia, breaking box-office records for a popular music tour. Haley and his band, supported by Big Joe Turner, Freddie Bell and the Bellboys, the Platters and LaVern Baker, play to more than 300,000 people in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

5. July 6, 1957: A little-known Liverpool ensemble known as the Quarrymen struts its stuff at the city's StPeter's Parish Church garden fete. Among those looking on is 15-year-old Paul McCartney. After the show he's introduced to the band's singer and guitarist, 16-year-old John Lennon. Lennon is impressed that his new friend knows how to tune a guitar.

6. February 3, 1959: Buddy Holly has already cemented his place as a rock'n'roll pioneer with songs such as That'll Be the Day and Peggy Sue, but his talent will not be fully realised. Along with fellow performers the Big Bopper and Richie Valens, Holly is killed when their small plane crashes just after taking off from Mason City airport, Iowa.

7. April 5, 1961: A 19-year-old folk singer, Bob Dylan, makes his solo debut at a New York Folk Society gathering. The former Robert Zimmerman has been playing guitar and harmonica since he was 12. A week after his debut, he begins a two-week residency, opening for bluesman John Lee Hooker at a club in the Big Apple's bohemian enclave, Greenwich Village.

8. June 6, 1962: Already turned down by the record label Decca, the Beatles enter Abbey Road studios in London for the first time to record demos for the label to which they have just signed, Parlophone. Three original songs emerge from the session: Love Me Do, Ask Me Why and PS I Love You.

9. February 7, 1964: Beatlemania begins in earnest when the Fabs arrive in the US for the first time. Chaotic scenes ensue. The phenomenon will gather strength four months later when, on June 12, up to 350,000 people gather in Adelaide to welcome the band during their Australian tour.

10. May 19, 1965: Guitarist Pete Townshend jots down the riff and lyrics for a song that will be the Who's next hit single. The blustering, swaggering My Generation perfectly encapsulates a pervading air of youth rebellion. It remains to be seen whether the band's now 60-year-old singer Roger Daltrey can deliver it with a straight face when the Who play in Australia next month.

11. July 25, 1965: Bob Dylan stuns folk purists at the Newport Folk Festival when he dons an electric guitar. It signals a new direction for the songwriter and paves the way for a hybrid of folk and rock. Dylan has already laid the foundations for this phase, recording electric material on his album Highway 61 Revisited.

12. November 27, 1965: When writer Ken Kesey holds a series of public acid tests at a hall in San Francisco, the fusion of hallucinogenic substances and rock strikes with a force that still resonates today. LSD, legal at the time, is the drug, and those who imbibe the doctored fruit drinks get to "travel' to the sounds of a band called the Grateful Dead.

13. January 13, 1966: A show billed as The Chic Mystique of Andy Warhol features a performance by a band the New York artist has taken under his wing, the Velvet Underground. Featuring Lou Reed, John Cale and German model and actor Nico, the band's jagged noise and sombre, underworld lyrics go down well with the crowd, largely members of the New York Society for Clinical Psychiatry.

14. January 18, 1966: The Beach Boys' creative genius Brian Wilson, no stranger to the mind-stretching capabilities of LSD, begins work on what will be regarded by many as the greatest rock album of all time, Pet Sounds. A month later, in the same studio, he starts constructing the song for which his genius will be most widely acknowledged, Good Vibrations.

15. October 18, 1966: French rock'n'roll heart-throb Johnny Halliday enlists a new three-piece guitar combo to open for him at the Olympia Music Hall in Paris. The band is the Jimi Hendrix Experience, making its debut. The left-handed American lead musician is about to turn the art of guitar playing on its head.

16. June 1, 1967: The Beatles, now purely a studio entity, release their most adventurous work to date, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Its brilliance confounds Wilson - whose Pet Sounds partly inspired the album - and he scraps plans to release the album he is working on, tentatively titled Smile. Thirty-seven years later, Wilson is in a Los Angeles studio re-recording the album.

17. June 16-18, 1967: The summer of love takes root at the first large-scale rock festival, Monterey Pop in California, featuring the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Who, Big Brother and the Holding Company (featuring Janis Joplin) and Simon and Garfunkel. No sign of moshing yet, but most of the audience, as seen in D.A. Pennebaker's documentary of the event, seem to be having a high old time.

18. June 27-28, 1968: The King, written off in the '60s as rock music redefined itself, enters NBC's Burbank, California, studios to record and film material for a TV special covering songs stretching back to his early days. Dressed in black leather, he turns the so-called Comeback Special into one of the greatest testaments to rock'n'roll that has been filmed.

19. January 1969: Heavy rock finds its newest ambassadors in Led Zeppelin, who release their first album, a mix of heavy blues and mysticism, to worldwide acclaim. The band rewrites the rock'n'roll handbook with a debauched lifestyle, including excessive drug taking, backstage bonking and dabbling in black magic on the tour bus.

20. December 6, 1969: The Rolling Stones headline a free concert at Altamont Speedway in California. More than 300,000 people turn up; it turns nasty and a man is murdered by Hell's Angels hired by the Stones as security. The tragedy serves as bitter closure for the decade of love and peace.

Subject: Re: Rock n Roll - 50 Years Young

Written By: BrianMannixGirl on 06/27/04 at 1:11 am

Part two - didnt realise there was a character limit !!!

21. August 23, 1970: Emerson, Lake and Palmer make their stage debut on their way to being crowned the kings of prog-rock, alongside notables such as Yes, King Crimson and various other classically influenced ensembles. In such hands, songs less than five minutes long are reworked to include a drum solo or a spoken-word section concerning the beauty of pigeons.

22. April 1, 1971: Led Zeppelin's opus Stairway to Heaven gets its first airplay, clocking in at almost eight minutes. It is destined to become the most played song on American FM radio and will forever test the patience of parents, guitar-shop owners and those who think it's a pompous piece of pretentious dribble.

23. June 1, 1972: Tired of what he calls the "airy-fairy mystical bollocks" of Pink Floyd's recent output, songwriter Roger Waters changes tack to concentrate on matters such as paranoia and the trials of everyday life. He and his three Floyd colleagues begin an eight-month recording binge that leads to the biggest selling concept album of all time, Dark Side of the Moon.

24. June 6, 1972: David Bowie has already gone through a number of musical and fashion changes, but his otherworldly looks and outlandish glam rock thrust him skywards with the release of The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, for which he adopts the persona of an androgynous-looking alien. Bowie also admits to be being bisexual.

25. May 25, 1973: Richard Branson, who has recently formed Virgin Records, issues an album by a 19-year-old multi-instrumentalist, Mike Olfield. Tubular Bells, later described as the Stonehenge of concept albums, goes on to sell 16 million copies, some of them to impressionable teenagers who find the album's multi-layered anthemic ambience sits comfortably with the smoking of foreign tobacco.

26. December 31, 1973: On New Year's Eve at Sydney's Chequers nightclub, AC/DC make their stage debut. Brothers Angus and Malcolm Young know about fame second-hand from their big brother George, one of the Easybeats. When George gets his siblings and the rest of the band into the studio months later, the way is paved for one of the most enduring and successful careers in rock history.

27. December 31, 1974: San Francisco couple/duo Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham are asked to join the struggling LA-based British combo Fleetwood Mac. The ensuing soap opera of love, betrayal, divorce and copious amounts of cocaine played out among the protagonists will lead, ironically, to one of the biggest selling albums in history, 1977's Rumours.

28. October 1974: The release of Melbourne band Skyhooks' debut album Living in the 70s is an essential landmark in Australian rock. It sells unprecedented numbers for a local act (226,000 in the first year) and by reaching the top spot on the album charts gives Oz rock a more powerful voice at home and helps young entrepreneur Michael Gudinski shift his fledgling label Mushroom Records into the big league.

29. August 1975: With his recently appointed manager Jon Landau declaring "I have seen rock'n' roll's future and its name is Bruce Springsteen", the Boss is under pressure to live up to the hype. He releases Born to Run, an album bristling with the Americana of John Steinbeck and Jack Kerouac and the rock nous of Phil Spector and Chuck Berry. It touches a nerve across the world.

30. October 27, 1975: There's a seismic shift in rock and pop when Queen release their single Bohemian Rhapsody, a mini-opera that perfectly demonstrates the band's strengths. The clincher, however, comes with the accompanying video which, with its split screens and synchronicity with the music, turns videos into a vital marketing component.

31. October 1976: The Sex Pistols sign to EMI. The band, led by an obnoxious runt calling himself Johnny Rotten, smacks the withering British music scene between the eyes with three minutes of brilliant bile called Anarchy in the UK. Punk rock ignites - albeit briefly - to the sounds of the Clash, the Damned and others in Britain, alongside the already established New York new wave of Talking Heads, the Ramones, Television and Blondie.

32. May 29, 1977: While playing in a pick-up band in Paris, singer Sting and drummer Stewart Copeland meet guitar player Andy Summers. The three resolve to start a band that has the edge of punk but with a more musical strain. The white reggae of Roxanne is the first product and as the Police they go on to repeat the process with increasing rewards for the next nine years.

33. August 16, 1977: On the day Elvis dies, a fledgling Australian rock group known as the Farriss Brothers makes its debut at eldest brother Tim's 20th birthday party at Whale Beach, Sydney. INXS, as they become known, will become one of Australia's most successful rock exports.

34. February 2, 1981: Duran Duran release their first single, Planet Earth, spawning the New Romantic era, causing thousands of aspiring rock gods to empty their sisters' wardrobes and make-up boxes in the hope of getting a record contract.

35. October 1, 1982: Hip-hop emerges from the underground but its power as a political tool reaches new heights - and the mainstream charts - in the hands of New York's Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Their song The Message, a vivid and articulate portrayal of ghetto life, sets a new standard.

36. December 1, 1982: Michael Jackson is already a solo star, but the release of his album Thriller changes everything. It breaks all records, spending an unprecedented 37 weeks in the No.1 slot in the US. Every single from it is an international smash and the video of the title track is the toast of the MTV age. That sort of success can seriously damage your health.

37. January 17, 1983: Jangly guitar-rock band REM enter the studio to record their debut album Murmur. The minimal production and haunting atmosphere of their folk-inspired rock is refreshing and original. Songs such as Talk About the Passion and Perfect Circle remain among their best.

38. January 29, 1983: Melbourne band Men at Work, relatively unknown a few months earlier, suddenly find themselves topping the singles and album charts in the UK and the US, a feat achieved only once before - by Rod Stewart. Down Under is the single in question, from the accompanying album Business as Usual.

39. July 13, 1985: After months of cajoling and swearing on television, Boomtown Rats singer Bob Geldof and his Ultravox mate Midge Ure realise their dream of holding a benefit concert for the famine-ravished countries of Africa. Live Aid, featuring some of the world's biggest names performing in London and in Philadelphia, raises $US70 million.

40. March 7, 1987: American white-boy rappers the Beastie Boys release their debut album, Licenced to Ill. It includes the punk-rap anthem Fight For Your Right. The Beastie Boys' merging of rock and hip-hop takes the latter further into the mainstream. By the '90s, hip-hop is by far the most popular form of music in the US.

41. April 2, 1987: With The Joshua Tree destined to send them into the rock stratosphere, Irish activists U2 launch their US tour in Arizona as a protest against that state deciding to can its public holiday in honour of Martin Luther King. From then on, singer Bono will get to preach from increasingly higher ground.

42. April 17, 1991: Seattle outfit Nirvana, led by moody singer Kurt Cobain, play a new song, Smells Like Teen Spirit, at a local club. Within a year it will become an anthem for a new generation of rock fans attracted to Cobain's nihilistic approach, played out in the trio's greatest achievement, the album Nevermind.

43. May 31, 1993: In a small club in Glasgow, Oasis play a set sounding somewhere between the Beatles and the Sex Pistols and are signed up immediately by Creation Records boss Alan McGee. The Manchester band's brazen pop-rock will accompany a surge of so-called Britpop fromthe likes of Blur, Pulpand Dodgy.

44. April 5, 1994: Cobain, 27, plagued by mental instability and serious drug problems, kills himself with a shotgun at his Seattle home, shocking Nirvana fans across the world. Previous rock legends Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison also died at 27 of drug-related causes.

45. February 23, 1999: University student Shawn Fanning makes his Napster music service available on the internet, allowing fans to swap MP3 files online. Napster sidesteps the record companies, which will spend millions on the new technology and ultimately bring down Fanning's empire.

46. June 1, 1999: Hip-hop svengali Dr Dre oversees the release of his protege Eminem's first album, The Slim Shady LP. Eminem, a 26-year-old white rapper from Detroit, gives hip-hop a radical makeover with inventive, provocative lyrics.

47. 2000: After walking along a beach in the rain and singing Yellow, Coldplay's Chris Martin becomes rock's new pin-up boy. Coldplay's debut album Parachutes highlights their original ideas, including a stripped-back melodic grace that will develop on the follow-up, A Rush of Blood to the Head.

48. January 2001: The Strokes, a New York outfit that has spent a year playing third on the bill in Manhattan dives, find themselves toast of the UK with their first EP, The Modern Age. The subsequent album, Is This It?, crowns them as the great new hope for rock'n'roll. In their wake comes a crop of bands such as the Hives, the Datsuns and the Vines. Suddenly it's OK once more to like loud guitars.

49. June 21, 2001: With the death of John Lee Hooker, the blues loses one of the last of its great pioneers, but just as rock'n'roll has regenerated itself several times, bands such as the White Stripes keep the blues alive.

50. Now: Rock'n'roll is in better shape today than it has been at several points in its 50-year trip. In Australia, bands such as Jet, the John Butler Trio and the Sleepy Jackson are just beginning what could be lengthy international careers, while AC/DC will probably be flogging their unique brand of rock long after they've picked up their seniors bus passes.

Subject: Re: Rock n Roll - 50 Years Young

Written By: Howard on 06/27/04 at 9:55 am

That's a pretty good timeline Brian. ;)


Subject: Re: Rock n Roll - 50 Years Young

Written By: CatwomanofV on 06/27/04 at 3:11 pm

That is really great BMG but you forgot Woodstock  :o.  It took place on Aug. 15, 16,17, 1969 in Bethal, NY. There were 500,000 attendees.  They also tried to have a second one in 1994 in Saugerties, NY. (Don't know how many showed up). In my opinion, not as good as the first.
These were the preformers.

WOODSTOCK '69                            WOODSTOCK '94 ***         
===================      ===================     
  Joan Baez                                Aerosmith               
  The Band                                Allman Brothers Band     
  Blood, Sweat & Tears                Arrested Development   
  The Paul Butterfield                  **The Band               
      Blues Band                    Blind Melon                                                     
  Canned Heat                            Blues Traveler   
  Joe Cocker                              James and Candlebox           
  Country Joe McDonald                Johnny Cash   
      and The Fish                        Jimmy Cliff's All Star
  Creedence Clearwater Revival      Reggae Jam (with Rita   
  Crosby, Stills, & Nash                    Marley & Shabba Ranks)         
  The Grateful Dead                    Collective Soul
  Arlo Guthrie                              The Cranberries
  Tim Hardin                            **Crosby, Stills, & Nash
  The Keef Hartley Band                Sheryl Crow           
  Richie Havens                          Cypress Hill       
  Jimi Hendrix                            Bob Dylan             
  Incredible String Band              Melissa Etheridge         
  *Iron Butterfly                          Peter Gabriel             
  Jefferson Airplane                    Green Day                 
  Janis Joplin                            Jackyl               
  Melanie                                  King's X                 
  Mountain                                Live               
  Quill                                      Metallica 
  Santana                                  Neville Brothers
  John Sebastian                        Nine Inch Nails
  Sha-Na-Na                              Orleans
  Ravi Shankar                            Porno for Pyros
  Sly & The Family Stone              Primus
  Bert Sommer                            Red Hot Chili Peppers
  Sweetwater                            Rollins Band
  Ten Years After                        (Henry Rollins)
  The Who                                Todd Rundgren
  Johnny Winter                          Salt 'N Pepa
  #Neil Young                              **Santana
                                                  Sisters of Glory (Thelma
                                                  Houston, CeCe Peniston,
                                                  Phoebe Snow, Mavis Staples,
                                                        & Lois Walden)
                                                  Spin Doctors
                                                  Traffic (Steve Winwood
                                                        & Jim Capalgi)
                                                    Violent Femmes
                                                    Youssou N'Dour
                                                    Paul Rodgers Band
                                                    **Joe Cocker
                                                  **Country Joe McDonald
                                                          (& The Fugs?)
                                                  (See note below)

# Neil Young performed a few songs with Crosby, Stills, & Nash and later joined their group.
* Iron Butterfly was scheduled, but didn't perform because they got stuck at the airport and couldn't make it to the site.
** At Original Woodstock in 1969
*** Proposed lineup

We have since learned that Country Joe McDonald performed at Woodstock 94. Country Joe sent an e-mail saying that he "had a gig in Woodstock with The Fugs and Alan Ginsberg and we copped passes and muscled our way in to sing a song after Arrested Development, then went on to Yasgur's farm and did a set at 6am" at the 25th Reunion.
Let us know about any other changes. We'll try to get a complete list of performers who ACTUALLY performed at the 94 gathering.

(Taken from


Subject: Re: Rock n Roll - 50 Years Young

Written By: jaytee on 06/28/04 at 4:53 am

Good stuff BMG and Cat.  Thanks for taking the time to post it all!

Subject: Re: Rock n Roll - 50 Years Young

Written By: CeramicsFanatic on 06/29/04 at 11:47 am

Very interesting stuff, BMG.  Thanks for sharing that with us.  :) 

Subject: Re: Rock n Roll - 50 Years Young

Written By: BrianMannixGirl on 06/30/04 at 7:26 am

That is really great BMG but you forgot Woodstock 

Hi Cat - I didnt actually compile the list - the author of the article did - and most of what was listed is what was considered to be pinnacle dates for Aussie readers.  While we obviously know about Woodstock - I dont know that its considered a pinnacle moment for us as we (nad Europe) had pretty big open air festivals "back then" too.

I think the author was picking moments that had to do with the change in music styles etc - at least that how I read it !!  Everyone reads things differently.

Subject: Re: Rock n Roll - 50 Years Young

Written By: Paul on 07/04/04 at 4:53 pm

Excellent stuff, BMG & Cat...thanks for taking the time...

It's been quite a journey, hasn't it?

Subject: Re: Rock n Roll - 50 Years Young

Written By: Tanya1976 on 07/26/04 at 12:02 am

In all honesty, Rock and Roll started before then. Elvis did not create Rock and Roll. He profited from those who originated it. Remember when Rock came out, it was called "race", "jungle", "colored", and "n-word" music b/c of those who created it. It was born from those who separated from the gospel music from which they learned their powerful vocals. Those people are Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, and a ton of others. Elvis came in after that and unfortunately became king of something he derived from, not originated.


Subject: Re: Rock n Roll - 50 Years Young

Written By: hot_wax on 12/14/05 at 11:22 pm

I was browsing through some of the past posts dates before my entering the Coloney and this post could my interest. It was done so well and I thought it deserves to be brought out to the forefront again for viewing. It was very informative, a lot of research and hard work went into it by a few of the Colonists and should be noted for it. Many of the young new comers to this site might enjoy it and get a Rock and Roll history education from it too.

Good Job! Hot Wax   

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