Rock n' Roll Isn't Dead, It's Just Changing

I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine about why it appears rock n' roll music isn't near as good as it used to be. What's changed about rock music in the past decade or so?

Ever since the 1950s birthed rock n’ roll, the genre has gone through many transformations. When rock hit the music scene in the 50s it appeared to be a fad. Some musicians outside of the rock circle didn’t take the style seriously and said it wouldn’t last. 

They were almost correct. In 1959 tragedy struck when rock kingpins Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens died in a plane crash. Elvis Presley had joined the Army a year prior. Rock n’ roll started to look bleak.

Rock n’ roll breathed new life in the early 1960s with surf rock bands including Dick Dale and the Beach Boys, but it had some stiff competition coming out of Detroit with the Motown sound of R&B. Two things changed rock n’ roll forever–the First British Invasion and the Counter Culture Movement. 

The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and others from the First British Invasion “crossed the pond” and made its way to America shaping the new sound and look of rock n’ roll. The Vietnam war was going on and rock music played a pivotal role in the "free love" Counter Culture Movement. This imprint rock made in the 60s carried its way into the 1970s. 

Heading into the 1980s the Second British Invasion occurred with bands like U2, Billy Idol, and Duran Duran. By the mid-80s the American economy was booming, fashion was bright, and it had become a “Me” culture. Rock n’ roll was about to make another sharp change with another counter culture movement leading into the 1990s with a rock style known as Grunge. 

Grunge music in the 90s had a major impact on Generation X just like 60’s rock n’ roll did on the Baby Boomer generation. Grunge rock was short lived when Kurt Cobain from Nirvana and Layne Stayley from Alice in Chains tragically died. Again we thought rock n’ roll was dead. 

Former drummer for Nirvana, Dave Growl, helped to shape the Post-Grunge era of rock n’ roll in the mid-90s. Similar bands such as Seven Mary Three and Creed soon followed by the late 90s. 

For at least the past decade or so we have not had a new rock n’ roll movement that has impacted the music culture as it did in the past. I believe one reason for that is musicians and bands have easier access to the technology needed to record and release music, and it's caused good rock music to get lost in the shuffle. As a solo artist I can attest to that. It's hard for good music to cut through the "noise." Especially with the pandemic even more people are releasing music. To quote Bob Dylan, "For the times they are a-changin'."

Leave a comment