The Evolution of Rock Music

When most of us think of rock music, we think of headbanging, heavy electric guitar, fast drums and just the opposite of relaxation in general. While rock music has come far in its 60-ish years of existence, it wasn’t always as branched out as it is today. Lets take a look at the Evolution of Rock Music.

Before rock music or “Rock and Roll” as they called it at the time, music was meant to relax the listener. Music was synonymous with either Blues or Jazz music. Any form of dance music was restricted to Boogie-Woogie which was a style of blues with a faster beat. While rock and roll music was around in the late 40s and the early 50s with Bill Haley and His Comets and Jackie Brenston, it only became a phenomenon with the hit single That’s All Right (Mama) by Elvis Presley in 1954. Many other artists achieved success making music in the rock and roll genre in the US alongside Elvis Presley, but no one was as famous or charismatic as the King of Rock and Roll himself.

Elvis Presley doing a promotional shoot for his hit single Jailhouse Rock in 1957

The 70s gave us legends such as David Bowie with Space Oddity, The Eagles with Hotel California and many, many others in the decade. It was also when rock music got an upgrade in the array of sounds available to the artist as the qualities of distortion and prominent bass lines came into play. Bands like AC/DC found great success with hit songs such as Highway to Hell and Hell’s Bells. The legendary English band Queen also released its second album, with a 7-minute track titled, Bohemian Rhapsody which is the most revered songs in the history of pop culture. Bands like Pink Floyd found great success as they paved the way into the new era of progressive rock with their critically acclaimed concept album, The Dark Side of The Moon.
The American band, Guns N Roses released their legendary album in 1987 called Appetite for Destruction which consisted of two of the most legendary rock songs of all time, Sweet Child O’ Mine and Welcome to the Jungle.

Guns N Roses performing live

The 90s was a darker and “louder” period in the history of rock music. Nirvana became a sensation with their heavy choruses paired up with the frontman, Kurt Cobain’s raspy voice along with Dave Grohl’s intense drumming. They released their second studio album, Nevermind which landed them a place among the legends of rock music. Nevermind’s first single, Smells like Teen Spirit ended up replacing Michael Jackson’s Dangerous for the number 1 spot on the US Billboards 200 in 1992. The decade also brought The White Stripes to the world of rock who went on to release the classic sports anthem, Seven Nation Army. Sadly, two of the genre’s most celebrated pioneers passed away in the decade. Queen’s frontman and vocalist, Freddie Mercury passed away due to AIDS, and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana took his life with a shotgun due to severe depression.

Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain performing in New York at MTV Unplugged

The 2000s brought with them a decline in the public’s love for Rock Music. While rock music still had a fan base, pop music took its place as the public’s new favorite. Among the bands that found success in the 00s, one of the timeless groups was Linkin Park. Some of their hits include Numb, In The End and Crawling. They were consistent fan favorites for 17 years until the lead vocalist, Chester Bennington’s eventual suicide in 2017 due to severe long-term depression. Their lyrics were heavily inspired by the traumatic childhoods of the band members which when paired up with the vocals of Bennington and Shinoda and the band’s musical style of aggressive rap and darker choruses struck a massive chord with the public and propelled them to fame and success.

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington performing live

Rock music hasn’t made as much of entry into mainstream music as the public was and still is taken with electronic music. Some bands like Foo Fighters are still making some great rock music, which isn’t surprising considering the frontman is none other than Dave Grohl, the drummer of Nirvana. Indie bands like Nothing But Thieves and Royal Blood are also making some interesting rock music by combining it with a few electronic components. No doubt, rock music will continue to live on.

Rock music is an integral part of the history of music, and it still is. Remnants of rock can still be seen in modern music. Rock music can never really be forgotten. The sound of the electric and bass guitars and fast-paced drumming is second to none. Rock music focuses more on the instruments, sheer talent and creativity. Everyone should give rock music a try and look past the stigma that rock music is inherently violent and a bad influence on children because none of it is true. There’s no harm in trying, right? You just might end up liking it.