The History of Rock & Roll: Vol. 1, 1920–1963

Ed Ward. Flatiron, $35 (416p) ISBN 978-1-250-07116-3
In this far-reaching volume, music historian Ward rushes pell-mell through rock music’s first half century, uncovering the many streams—blues, country, jazz—that flood into the mighty river of rock. Much of this material will be very familiar to music fans, but Ward’s book provides an excellent introduction to early rock’s cast of characters and the music that rocked the world. After he establishes the roots of rock in blues and country and the complicated relationship between race and music that pervades the entire history of rock, Ward chronicles, year by year, the development of the music; its relationship to and reflection of American society; and the artists, producers, and record labels that created the music and pushed it along. For Ward, 1957 was the watershed year: Chuck Berry released “You Can’t Catch Me” and Jerry Lee Lewis put out “Crazy Arms”; Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day” came out that summer and rocketed to the top of the charts; Sam Cooke moved from gospel to secular music; Sam Phillips’s Sun studio—later home to the “Million Dollar Quartet” of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash—continued its steady rise; Bobby “Blue” Bland made his debut with “Farther Up the Road”; Ricky Nelson debuted on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet television show; and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand carried the message of rock ’n’ roll nationwide to a generation of teens ready to buy records. Ward’s delightful book is chock-full of everything there is to know about the history of rock. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/22/2016
Release date: 11/01/2016
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Compact Disc - 978-1-5159-1598-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-5159-6598-5
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-1-250-13849-1
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