The Genesis of Rock 'n' Roll

By S.N.
  • Early Recordings of W.C. Handy

    Early Recordings of W.C. Handy
    Memphis Blues
    W.C. Handy made a decision to lead an all-black band in Mississippi instead of accepting a prestigious job conducting an orchestra. He is known for composing some of the most famous blues songs in the world.
  • Early Recordings of Jelly Roll Morton

    Early Recordings of Jelly Roll Morton
    Jelly Roll Blues
    Morton claimed to have "invented jazz". "Jelly Roll Blues" was the first published jazz composition. His style led to a creation called stride piano.
  • Early Recordings of Bessie Smith

    Early Recordings of Bessie Smith
    Bessie Smith was one of the most influential female blues singers of the early 20th century. Columbia Records even paid her $2,400 a year for a recording contract, which was basically unheard of.
  • Invention of the 78 RPM Record

    Invention of the 78 RPM Record
    The history of 78 RPM recordings
    Early disc recordings were produced in a variety of speeds ranging from 60 to 130 rpm, and a variety of sizes. It wasn't until1925 that the speed of the record became standardized at a nominal value of 78 rpm.
  • The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927

    The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927
    The Flood of 1927
    The Great Flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States. It affected an area of 27,000 square miles, with 130,000 homes left destroyed and an estimated 700,000 people displaced.The flood caused over $400 million in damages, killed 246 people in seven states, and left thousands homeless.
  • Early Recordings of Charley Patton

    Early Recordings of Charley Patton
    Shake It and Break It
    He is the most important of the early blues artists. He recorded his first music with Gennett Records in Richmond, Indiana, in 1929.
  • Wall Street Crash of 1929

    Wall Street Crash of 1929
    The stock market crash that occurred in 1929 was followed by the Great Depression. It significantly changed the lives of every American by introducing the largest financial crisis of the 20th century. It also affected the music industry at the time.
  • Early Recordings of Robert Johnson

    Early Recordings of Robert Johnson
    He is a legend, especially in the genre known as Mississippi Delta Blues. During his first recording session in San Antonio, Texas, he recorded several songs including "Cross Road Blues" and "Kind Hearted Woman Blues".
  • King Records

    King Records
    King Records, which was started by Syd Nathan, began operating in the year 1943.
  • The Creation of Race Records

    The Creation of Race Records
    Race Records
    King began producing "race records," also known as music produced primarily by and for African-Americans.
  • Jerry Lee Lewis Makes His Debut

    Jerry Lee Lewis Makes His Debut
    Jerry Lee Lewis performs for the first time at the opening of a Ford dealership in Ferriday, Louisiana. He was only 14 at the time
  • Early Recordings of Fats Domino

    Early Recordings of Fats Domino
    The Fat Man
    Imperial Records held a recording session with Fats Domino. He recorded "The Fat Man", which is considered by some historians to be the first rock 'n' roll record.
  • The First Rock 'n' Roll Concert

    The First Rock 'n' Roll Concert
    A disk jockey from Cleveland by the name of Alan Freed is thought to have coined the term "rock 'n' roll". The event attracted about 25,000 young people
  • Launch of Sun Records

    Launch of Sun Records
    Sun Records
    Sam Phillips founded Sun Records, an independent record label in Memphis, Tennessee. Sun Records was notable for discovering and first recording such influential musicians as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash.
  • Discovery of Elvis Presley

    Discovery of Elvis Presley
    Elvis Presley records "That's All Right (Mama)"
    An 18 year old Elvis Presley decides to walk into Sun Records Studio to record a couple songs for his mother as a birthday gift. The two session men who witnessed his perfomance were greatly impressed by the teenager's vocals.
  • Elvis' First Single

    Elvis' First Single
    That's Alright Mama
    Sun Records releases the first single by Elvis Presley, "That's All Right (Mama)"/"Blue Moon of Kentucky." These covers quickly gain popularity around Memphis, but overall they received mixed reviews.
  • "Ain't That a Shame" by Fats Domino

    "Ain't That a Shame" by Fats Domino
    Ain't That a Shame
    This song recorded by Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew in Hollywood, California, for Imperial Records sold a million copies. It was the first of dozens of hits for the singer that cross over from the R&B charts to the pop charts.
  • Elvis Leaves Sun Records

    Elvis Leaves Sun Records
    1955 Sun-RCA Deal
    Sun Records sells Elvis Presley's recording contract to RCA for a good price of $35,000.
  • John Lennon Starts the Quarrymen

    John Lennon Starts the Quarrymen
    Meet the Group
    After he recieved a guitar from his mother as a gift, John Lennon eventually formed his first band, The Quarrymen.
  • Heartbreak Hotel

    Heartbreak Hotel
    Heartbreak HotelElvis Presley records his first single for RCA Records called "Heartbreak Hotel." It would be the starting point at which a series of number 1 hits for Presley would follow.
  • "Long Tall Sally" by Little Richard

    "Long Tall Sally" by Little Richard
    Long Tall Sally
    Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally" reaches #6 on the pop charts. It was his biggest hit.
  • Jerry Lee Lewis Goes to Sun Records

    Jerry Lee Lewis Goes to Sun Records
    Jerry Lee Lewis
    Jerry Lee Lewis goes to Memphis for an audition with Sun Records. He recorded his first record with Sun two months later.
  • Congress Considers Censoring Music Lyrics

    Congress Considers Censoring Music Lyrics
    Rock and Roll vs. Censorship
    The U.S. Congress considers legislation that would require song lyrics to be screened by a review committee before sale. All of this was due to a concern about the controversial and obscene music the adolescents were starting to enjoy.
  • "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On"

    "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On"
    "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On"
    Released as Sun 267, the record called "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" by Jerry Lee Lewis reached No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart and No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart
  • John Lennon Meets Paul McCartney

    John Lennon Meets Paul McCartney
    John meets Paul for the first time
    John Lennon meets Paul McCartney at a gig for his band in Liverpool. John asks Paul if wants to join the Quarrymen.
  • 'American Bandstand'

    'American Bandstand'
    American Bandstand goes national
    This television show hosted by Dick Clark featured a live performance by a rock and roll or rhythm and blues artist and teens dancing to popular hits each episode.
  • George Harrison Joins the Quarrymen

    George Harrison Joins the Quarrymen
    A young George Harrison becomes the latest member to join John Lennon's band, The Quarrymen.
  • "Sweet Little Sixteen" by Chuck Berry

    "Sweet Little Sixteen" by Chuck Berry
    Sweet Little Sixteen
    Chuck Berry's single reaches an impressive #2 on the pop charts. This song is Berry's biggest rock 'n' roll hit.
  • Elvis' Entry Into the Army

    Elvis' Entry Into the Army
    Elvis was drafted into the U.S. Army. From October 1958 to March 1960, he served in Germany.
  • Jerry Lee Lewis Piano Incident

    Jerry Lee Lewis Piano Incident
    As the legend goes, DJ Alan Freed promoted a tour with both Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. On the opening night, a disagreement over the line-up prompted Lewis to set his piano on fire during his last song, "Great Balls of Fire".
  • "Good Golly Miss Molly" by Little Richard

    "Good Golly Miss Molly" by Little Richard
    Good Golly Miss Molly
    This song by Little Richard becomes #10 on the pop charts. While this is happening, Richard decides to focus on religion and leave rock 'n' roll.
  • Jerry Lee Lewis Marries His Teen Cousin

    Jerry Lee Lewis Marries His Teen Cousin
    The Myra Brown Scandal
    When his fans learn of his marriage to a teen cousin, Jerry Lee Lewis is forced to end a British tour. He has no choice but to return to the U.S.
  • Jimi Hendrix Gets His First Guitar

    Jimi Hendrix Gets His First Guitar
    When he was 15, Jimi Hendrix's father purchased a second-hand, acoustic guitar for him for five dollars.
  • Jerry Lee Lewis Explains His Situation

    Jerry Lee Lewis Explains His Situation
    Jerry Lee Lewis publishes an ad in Billboard magazine to help calm the controversy that has hurt his music career badly. He stated, "I hope that if I am washed up as an entertainer, it won't be because of this bad publicity."
  • The Day the Music Died

    The Day the Music Died
    Today is the 55th Anniversary of the Day the Music Died
    A plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 3, 1959 killed rock 'n' roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. It was later discovered that a combination of poor weather conditions and pilot error caused spatial disorientation that made the pilot Roger Peterson lose control of the plane.
  • Chuck Berry's Prison Term

    Chuck Berry's Prison Term
    Chuck Berry is arrested on Mann Act charges in St. Louis, Missouri
    Chuck Berry was arrested in St. Louis, Missouri, for allegedly transporting a 14-year-old girl across state lines. He was reported to have had "immoral purposes" in mind. Berry spent 20 months between 1960 to 1963 in federal jail for violating the Mann Act.
  • Frank Sinatra Honors Elvis Presley

    Frank Sinatra Honors Elvis Presley
    Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra - May 12, 1960
    Frank Sinatra hosted a television special in honor of Elvis Presley's return to the U.S. from military service overseas. Just for appearing on the show, Elvis got paid $125,000.
  • Debut of The Beatles

    Debut of The Beatles
    Live: The Beatles’ first Cavern Club show
    Several of the members of the Quarrymen formed The Beatles. They first performed at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
  • Jimi Hendrix Enlists in the Army

    Jimi Hendrix Enlists in the Army
    Famous Veterans: Jimi Hendrix
    At the age of 19, Hendrix joins the military after being caught riding in stolen cars. He is stationed at Fort Ord in California.
  • Beach Boys Performance

    Beach Boys Performance
    Beach Boys Setlist
    The Beach Boys make one of their first public appearances by performing at a Ritchie Valens memorial concert in Long Beach, California.
  • EMI Beatles Audition

    EMI Beatles Audition
    The Beatles First EMI Recording Session - 6 June 1962
    The Beatles audition for EMI Records and are offered a contract on the condition that they will replace one of the group's members, Pete Best with a new member named Richard "Ringo" Starkey. He joined the group in the next few months.
  • Jimi Hendrix is Discharged from the Army

    Jimi Hendrix is Discharged from the Army
    Hendrix begins playing gigs with numerous artists including Little Richard and the Isley Brothers upon his release from the military.
  • "Surfin' USA" by The Beach Boys

    "Surfin' USA" by The Beach Boys
    Beach Boys - Surfin Usa (Live, 14 March 1964)
    "Surfin' U.S.A.," which is the Beach Boys' reworked version of Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen," becomes a Top Ten hit on the pop chart. Later on, Chuck Berry sued the Beach Boys for not crediting him on the track.
  • "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles

    "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles
    The Beatles - I Want to Hold Your Hand
    The Beatles' song, "I Want to Hold Your Hand," is released in the United States and instantly becomes a hint. It was also the group's first American number one, entering the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 18 January 1964 at number forty-five and starting the British invasion of the American music industry.
  • The Beatles Arrive in America

    The Beatles Arrive in America
    The Beatles’ American invasion begins
    The Beatles arrive in the United States for a while. The play a few live performances.
  • The Beatles on Ed Sullivan Show

    The Beatles on Ed Sullivan Show
    The Beatles
    The Beatles make their national American television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. 73 million people tuned in to watch the historic event.
  • The Beatles Perform Live

    The Beatles Perform Live
    The Beatles Live At The Washington Coliseum, 1964
    The Beatles perform their first live performance in the United States. This took place at the Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C.
  • The Beatles and the Charts

    The Beatles and the Charts
    April 4, 1964: The Beatles Make Hot 100 History
    The Beatles reached a great achievement when they held the top five slots on the Billboard chart.
  • The Rolling Stones Arrive in America

    The Rolling Stones Arrive in America
    The Rolling Stones arrive in the United States to start their North American tour.
  • The Animals

    The Animals
    Animals - House of the Rising Sun
    The Animals top the U.S. charts with their song, "House of the Rising Sun". Besides The Beatles, they are the first British group to reach number one.
  • Rolling Stones go on The Ed Sullivan Show

    Rolling Stones go on The Ed Sullivan Show
    The Rolling Stones 1st Appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show – 10/25/64
    That evening’s show brought The Rolling Stones national attention that was both good and bad. The appearance helped generate over a million dollars in ticket sales for the band’s fall concert tour, but also brought out the anger of conservative adults who didn’t approve of the band’s unkempt appearance.