In 1951 Alan Freed, a DJ from Cleveland, coined the term Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The early sound drew influence from Doo Wop, R n B and The Blues. The rock ‘n’ roll style from this period was all wide legged suits in bold plaids or bright colours with contrast lapels and bow ties. 1953-1958 saw 5 heady years of rising stars including Chuck Berry, Bill Haley and Elvis Presley who are icons of the sound. 1958 was a strange turning point for the rock ‘n’ roll genre. Elvis was drafted into the army, Little Richard left the music industry to go to bible college, Buddy Holly’s last ever record was made and Jerry Lee Lewis had 90% of his tour cancelled. By 1960 rock and roll had all but lost its edge. As the popularity of the genre grew, it became more commercialised and very quickly rock ‘n’ roll as it had been, shifted unrecognisably to have much more of a Country music influence.
Skip ahead 4 years and the British Invasion changed all that. Whilst America was the native homeland of rock and roll, the genre had changed almost irreparably there. Just over the pond however, Brits had been lapping up the imported records that slowly filtered through from the states and Britain did what it does best, it spurned a series of vibrant, passionate and interesting subcultures from the influence of rock and roll and a million miles away from the commerciality that had seized rock ‘n’ roll in America.
Britain had the Teddy Boys, Rockers and Ton-up Boys which encapsulated much of the feeling of rock ‘n’ roll, borrowing from their American counterparts, the Greasers. Then bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Kinks appeared on the scene and took their movement back to The States. Their look was a far cry from the wide legged suits of the 50s stars with cleaner lines, more leather and a generally more wearable style.
With a new injection of life from over the Atlantic, rock ‘n’ roll flourished once more in America and acts like The Doors, Jimi Hendrix Experience, even The Ramones and Guns and Roses, were cemented in rock ‘n’ roll history.
Over the years an iconic aesthetic had developed, perhaps best encapsulated by the Greasers, the style was hard wearing denim, leather jackets and the recognisable pomp hairstyle. The trend has seen a huge renaissance, being championed by the likes of Alex Turner and a number of famous faces, no doubt inspired by the rebellious charm of this mid century musical movement.