Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll: Brief history of rock music

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Many of you know rock music as this volatile, angry music that has emerged from the graves to seek revenge to those who have made the artists suffer; emotionally, physically, philosophically and of course, spiritually. It has constantly redefined and reinventing itself throughout the years and the industry continues to flourish with a dash of controversy and a lot of noise. But actually, its roots lead us to a further and way subtle musicality, which has surprisingly been the staple sound of black men after a day’s work.


Rock music can be traced back to the forties when the styles of country and blues are on the rise. Chuck Berry is one of the pioneering rock and roll artists of the 50s whose music style leaned on classic blues structure. Artists like Berry integrated their fast guitar riffs and morphed them with guitar distortion and heavy double pedal drum beats as you can hear in the majority of today’s rock songs. In fact, you could even see traces of rock music back to the Baroque and classical music days. Beethoven’s signature styles could be heard in eargasmic loud guitar plays.

What was then new sound had become so controversial and many have raised their brows in disagreement. Simply put, rock music is a “shocking” diversion from the safe pop culture. Sex and overall liberalism has been totally embraced by rock, which was more than overwhelming for such a conservative era. The aggressiveness of this genre suggested freedom and suppression is definitely not celebrated.


In much later decades, sub genres of rock have appeared. Metal music, as being the most popular and probably the most controversial of all sub genres, has absolutely become a household name. And when heavy metal bands, such as Black Sabbath, Led Zepplin, and Judas Priest, started to appear, rock in itself turned into a whole new dimension. It became a hub of controversy and debate amongst the liberals and the conservatives.


Much argument on metal rock’s influence on the youngsters during the 70s and 80s has filed on courtrooms with bands snickering on such an idea. Who would forget the defense of Twisted Sister’s front man Dee Snider in the Supreme Court in the name of metal? Whether or not the blame is on the bands and their outrageous lyrical influence or the listeners’ comprehension, rock music has since then became an anthem of the dark. What people mostly remember regarding this genre is anger, violence, sex and drugs. But what we do not realize is that this is just one specific sub genre of rock music. There are handfuls more branches of the tree trunk that do not inflict the same “negative” influence on its listeners. Pop rock, alternative rock, Christian rock and Punk rock are just some of the other sub genres with lyrics that connote a lighter aspect of life.


Misunderstood or not, rock music lives on and its reign undeniably lurks within every listener. Artists continue to reinvent themselves in the name of this genre. Sub genres are mixed and matched into creating a new batch of sub genres, which dominates both mainstream and underground scene. The ideals of laissez-faire in rock music fuel the artists’ passion into the genre. We will definitely still be seeing more of this genre and its controversial statements in the future.

Maria Espie

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