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History of Rock

Welcome to the History of Rock! This one semester course will cover music from the days before rock (pre-1955) up to the early 1990s.

This course is drawn from the lectures of John Covach, presented by the University of Rochester through Coursera. You must create a FREE account with Coursera to view the videos for this course. Days marked with an asterisk (*) have something to print.

If any of the links to songs are broken, try looking them up to see if you can find a version to listen to.

Day 1

1. Create an account with Coursera and log in. (If you already have an account, just log in.)
2. Watch the video about mainstream pop before 1955.

Each day there will be links for you to listen to. You might choose to listen to these songs while you work on another subject for school, or give them your full attention. Either way, listening to the music is going to add a lot to this course, so be sure to do your listening!

Listening: Here is a version of “New York, New York” sung by Frank Sinatra. Here’s one by Elvis Presley. Here’s one by Liza Minelli. Can you hear what is meant by each performer creating their own signature version of the same song?

Day 2

1. Watch the video about the stars of pop music before rock and roll.

Listening:

Day 3

1. Watch the video about the origins of Country & Western music before World War II.

Listening:

Day 4

1. Watch the video about Rhythm and Blues before 1945.

Listening:

Day 5

1. Watch the video about Rhythm & Blues after 1945.

Listening:

Day 6

1. Watch the video about how R&B radio in the 50s influenced the rise of rock and roll.

Listening:

Day 7

1. Watch the video about Doo Wop and Gospel music.

Listening:

Day 8*

1. Watch the video about the rise of youth culture in the 1950s.
2. Here is the trailer for the movie “American Graffiti,” which might help you visualize youth culture of the time.
*3. Print your first timeline page. Be sure to KEEP this paper, because we will be adding notes to it over the next few days.

Day 9

1. Watch the video about crossovers and covers in rock and roll.
2. Just for fun, here is a video of a classic jukebox playing “Suspicion” by Terry Stafford.

Listening:

Day 10

1. Watch the video about how the first rock and rollers cross over.
2. Time to add some names to your timeline page!

  • Bill Haley and the Comets
  • Fats Domino
  • Chuck Berry
  • Little Richard

Listening:

Day 11
1. Watch the video on the rise of Elvis.
2. Add Elvis Presley to your timeline.
3. Here is a video of Elvis singing Hound Dog. Can you see why he was considered shocking at the time?

Listening:

Day 12

1. Watch the video about rockabilly music after Elvis appeared.
2. Add Buddy Holly to your timeline.

Listening:

Day 13

1. Watch the video about “the day the music died.”
2. Create a new document and title it ‘The History of Rock.’ Today you need to write a paragraph (a minimum of 5 sentences) explaining how rock and roll began. Your paragraph should include 1) the dates that rock and roll began 2) the names of some notable artists and 3) something that made rock and roll different than the music that came before it.
3. Save your document, we will be adding more to it later.

Day 14*
1. Watch the video on the search for the “next Elvis.”
2. Print the second page of your timeline. Be sure to KEEP this page (as well as the previous one).

Listening:

Day 15

1. Watch the video about teen idols.
2. Draw a line down the middle of your 1960-1963 timeline page and draw 2 lines across the page, breaking it into 6 boxes. Label one section “Teen Idols” and add the following names:

  • Elvis Presley
  • Frankie Avalon
  • Fabian
  • Bobby Vee
  • Bobby Darin

As you listen to the following music, take a look at the singers. Can you figure out what your teacher means when he says they are ‘non-threatening?’

Listening:

Day 16

1. Watch the video about how the role of producers began to change in the 60s.
2. Move to a new section of your timeline page and label it ‘Girl Groups.’ Important girl groups of this time include:

  • The Shirelles
  • The Crystals
  • The Ronettes
  • The Marvelettes
  • The Chiffons

Listening:

Day 17

1. Watch the video about the development of sweet soul.
2. Label a section of your timeline page “Sweet Soul” and add the following artists:

  • The Drifters
  • Ben E. King
  • The Temptations

Listening:

Day 18

1. Watch the video about the folk revival.
2. Label a new section of your timeline page “Folk” and add the following names:

  • The Kingston Trio
  • The New Christy Minstrels
  • Peter, Paul and Mary

Listening:

Day 19

1. Watch the video
2. Label a new section of your timeline page “Rockabilly Popsters” and add the following names:

  • The Everly Brothers
  • Rick Nelson
  • Roy Orbison

Listening:

Day 20

1. Watch the video about the origin of surf music.
2. Label the last section of your timeline page “Surf Music” and add the following names:

  • Dick Dale
  • The Surfaris
  • The Ventures
  • The Beach Boys
  • Jan and Dean

3. Open your document, “History of Rock,” and add another paragraph. (Every paragraph you write for this document must have at least 5 sentences.) You should include the names of some of the styles that emerged during this time period. Other things to think about: what happened that mainstream rock and roll seemed to die off and so many different styles emerged?
4. Be sure to save your document for later.

Listening:

Day 21*

1. Watch the video about music in the UK before the British Invasion.
2. Print the third page of your timeline. Be sure to keep it with your other pages.

Listening:

Day 22

1. Watch the video about the rise of The Beatles.
2. Add The Beatles to your timeline page.

Listening:

Day 23

1. Watch the video about how The Beatles exemplify the transition from craftsmen to artists.

Listening:

Day 24

1. Watch the video about the emergence of The Rolling Stones.
2. Add The Rolling Stones to your timeline page.

Listening:

Day 25

1. Watch the video about other British bands that came over in the British Invasion.
2. Choose five more groups and add them to your timeline.

Listening:

Day 26

1. Watch the video about The Kinks and The Who.
2. Add them to your timeline.
3. Open your document, “History of Rock,” and write a paragraph about the British Invasion. Be sure to include when it began and which bands had the largest influence. Why were so many British artists able to find success in the United States?
4. Save your document for later.

Listening:

Day 27*

1. Watch the video about Bob Dylan as ‘the new American songwriter.’
2. Print your new timeline page and keep it with your other pages.

Listening:

Day 28

1. Watch how Dylan went electric and shook things up!
2. Add Bob Dylan to your timeline.

Listening:

Day 29

1. Watch the video about folk rock.
2. Add The Byrds, The Mamas and the Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Turtles to your timeline.

Listening:

Day 30

1. Watch the video about producer Phil Spector.
2. Add Sonny & Cher to your timeline.

Listening:

Day 31

1. Watch the video about music on the East coast during this time period.
2. Were you curious about the description of an autoharp? Here is a video of John Sebastian (of the Lovin’ Spoonful) playing an autoharp and showing how it works.
3. Add a couple of groups from this week to your timeline.

Listening:

Day 32

1. Watch the video about rock on television at this point in history.
2. Watch this video of The Monkees introducing themselves.
OPTIONAL: Here is an episode of their TV show you can watch if you would like.
3. Add The Monkees to your timeline.
4. Write another paragraph in your document, “History of Rock.” How did the American music industry react to the sudden influx of British artists? Possible ideas to discuss: folk rock, west coast music, or musical TV shows.

Listening:

Day 33*

1. Watch the video about Motown.
2. Print the next page of your timeline. Keep it with your other pages.

Listening:

Day 34

1. Watch the video about the performers of Motown.
2. Divide your timeline page into two columns. Label one column “Motown” and add some names to it:

  • Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
  • The Supremes
  • The Four Tops
  • The Temptations
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Stevie Wonder

Listening:

Day 35

1. Watch the video about southern soul.

Listening:

Day 36

1. Watch the video about the Stax performers.
2. Label the other column of your timeline “Southern Soul” and add the following names:

  • Otis Redding
  • Sam and Dave
  • Wilson Pickett
  • Aretha Franklin

Listening:

Day 37

1. Watch the video about James Brown.
2. Add James Brown to your timeline page under “Southern Soul.”
3. Add a paragraph to your document, “History of Rock,” about black music in the 1960s. You may wish to discuss the difference between Motown and southern soul. Please include some notable artists of this time period.

Listening:

Day 38

1. This section of the course discusses music that is influenced by psychedelic drugs. Psychedelic means something that produces hallucinations and altered consciousness.
2. Watch the video about the history of LSD and how psychedelics began to affect music in the 1960s.
3. Print the next page of your timeline. Keep it with your other pages.

Listening:

Day 39

1. Watch the video about how the Beatles and the Beach Boys began to push the envelope.
2. Add The Beatles and The Beach Boys to this page of your timeline.

Listening:

Day 40

1. Watch the video about the psychedelic subculture in San Fransisco.

Listening:

Day 41

1. Watch the video about important psychedelic groups in San Francisco.
2. Add the following groups to your timeline:

  • Grateful Dead
  • Jefferson Airplane
  • Janis Joplin

Listening:

Day 42

1. Watch the video about psychedelic music in London.

Listening:

Day 43

1. Watch the video about mainstream stars to come out of the London psychedelic scene.
2. Add The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton to this page of your timeline.

Listening:

Day 44

1. Watch the video about psychedelia in Los Angeles and other areas.
2. Add The Doors to your timeline.
3. Just for fun, here is the clip from ‘The Simpsons’ that the teacher mentioned.

Listening:

Day 45

1. Watch the video about the ‘hippie nation.’
2. Open your document, “History of Rock,” and add a paragraph about psychedelic music at the end of the 1960s. This would be a good place to discuss LSD, the idea of music as a trip, and hippie culture. Save your document for later.

Listening:

Congratulations! You have completed part 1 of this course.
Proceed to part 2!