From the American Blues to the British Rock

Where does the Rock come from? The answer to this question is so complex we will not be able to define its actual origins. As a lot of music styles, Rock music gave birth to several branches and gathers a lot of different influences, one being the Blues. Rhythm and Blues stands in-between Rock and Blues.

A journalist from the American music magazine BillBoard is said to be the one who invented the term Rhythm and Blues . Indeed, this magazine used to publish record charts since 1940, and one of the different categories was called “race music”.It gathered blues, gospel, jazz, ragtime, boogie-woogie, and Rock and Roll. Jerry Wexler suggested to call it “Rhythm and Blues” in 1948.
In the United Kingdom, the popular music was mainly dancing music with big bands, and records from the United States progressively crossed the ocean to England.

The instrumental piece  “Bad Penny Blues ” stayed 6 weeks on the Top Twenty in Britain,showing that Blues, Jazz and Boggie-woogie were not only produced in the USA (Humphrey Lyttleton was an english trumpetist). In 1957, the single “All Shook Up” reached the first place of the UK Single Charts for seven weeks, and “Jailhouse Rock” stayed three weeks on top in 1958. Rock and Roll was becoming more and more popular.

This enthousiasm led to the creation of many skiffle groups. Skiffle was very popular because this style of music could be played with cheap instruments such as wash boards, washtub bass,acoustic guitars and banjos integrating the 12 chords of the blues and the rousing rhythm of Rock and Roll.The Quarrymen (which then became the Beatles) was created in this context.

Apart from that, American musicians crossed the Atlantic Ocean to play in Europe, and most of them stopped in London at the Flamingo Club along the 1950′ and the 1960′ . There one could hear Howlin’ Wolf, Larry Williamson, John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry, Nina Simone, and other artists performing on stage. John Mayall, Eric Clapton and members of the Rolling Stones were frequent visitors to this club.

All those elements contributed to the evolution of music in the UK, especially Rock’nRoll which will lead to Rock, Pop, Punk and other crucial styles.

 

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