KGH's All Encompassing
History of Rock Music

I have always been struck by the fact that most historical descriptions of Rock Music all seem unable to come to grips with anything past 1985 or so. Regardless of whether you go to Rolling Stone, PBS, , or Michael Bane, the story ends long before you get to Radiohead. Even Piero Scaruffi stops at the year 2000, which means the collapse / retreat of the recording industry is just a rumor. This seem (to me at least) like a terrible omission. What follows is my humble attempt to correct this

This all started when I asked myself a fairly simple question. . .

What Kind of music does Radiohead make

Which led to a related, but perhaps deeper question. . .

What are the Eras of Rock Music??

Pretty much everyone agrees that there was a run-up period that went from the end of World War II through 1954. Then in 1954 Rock and Roll began with Bill Haley's Rock around the Clock and later contributions by Elvis and Chuck Berry. And then it petered out around 1959 with the death of Buddy Holly and Elvis' time in the army (he was never the same again). Then in 1964 the Beatles hit the USA and we were off an running again with Rock. And then there was the Sex Pistols in 1977 (e.g Punk). Followed shortly by the "New Wave" (same as the old wave, but with synthesizers). But after that the chronology gets muddled. Are R.E.M. New Wavers, Alternatives, or Arena Rockers? And even if you settle on calling them the kings of (US) "alternative" rock, that's still (kind of like) a genre NOT a musical era.


as I thought about the problem some more, and in particular thought about how changes in the formats on which the music was distributed affected the music, I realized it was possible (and useful) to write a Rock History that could handle Radiohead and the year 2010

which brings us to. . .

Format-based Era's of Rock / 20th century Music

Starting with

The 78rpm Era ~ 1925 - 1954

In which (AM) radios and the (78 rpm) phonograph brought popular music to the masses and gradually pushed classical / orchestral musics from center stage

Major Musical Movements

After World War II was over a number of technological & Sociological improvements set the stage for the revolution but,
in particular the

Led to the next great phase of musical history

The Singles Era
(ever-growing) major labels and the smaller (often regional) independent labels that recorded the newer bands. Still the "means of production" lay squarely in the hands of the labels (both big & small) and since overall sales of music grew by 55% over the 1980s getting a "contract" was still a rite of passage for any local band with a following