From love to lollypops, every human emotion and want has been the subject of rock and roll music. Its wide popularity is due to its roots in American musical traditions. Rhythm and blues, gospel, and country music, including cowboy swing, and much more have had their influences. Originally, with string guitars and drums new bands and personalities used simple lyrics and strong beats to belt out a new generation’s feelings and desires. In the 20s record recording, radio and films popularized many genres not known to so-called mainstream society. While the term rock and roll was not coined until the 50s, it has its roots in early America. African American folk music was rarely heard outside of Black society. Gospel music was limited to church gatherings and was divided by ethnic and class lines. Country and cowboy swing music rarely entered urban areas. These genres grew in popularity in urban areas during the 20s and 30s, but it was limited to dance halls and bar scenes. A technological miracle in its time, the ability to record and preserve music and lyrics meant that suddenly anyone could listen to most anything. Radio and film became mass media and the stage was set for rock and roll. In the 50’s an American undercurrent in the music world was striving for a more genuine and popular form of musical expression. With the new mass media there was much to draw from. Early rock and roll artists used saxophones and pianos as lead instruments. By the mid-50s classic rock and roll bands were using guitars and drum sets as lead instruments. The basic beat pattern of blues rhythm and backbeat emphasis was set. In the 60s “rock music” took over the pop music charts. Folk, surf, hard, psychedelic and soul rock showed a wide diversity in contemporary themes. Prime time television showcased some of the less controversial bands and singers. In the 70s rock became mainstream and big business. It was the era of large venue band tours that saw the birth of heavy metal and progressive rock. Music television (MTV) revolutionized rock forever in the 80s. The cable television channel streamed both rock video and sound into millions of homes. Then in the 90s, the pattern broke away from all marketing and creative traditions. The Internet has made all music accessible to fans, but it has, also, for artists created a seamless venue to share their talents.
Punk rock is a style of rock music that is characterized by stripped-down musical arrangements and anti-establishment lyrics. It is often driven by distorted guitars pounding out power chords and features lead vocalists shouting out aggressive lyrics. Punk rock had its beginnings in the 60s. Many bands during this time would play music in a garage with strong limitations upon what kind of music they could play. These bands were driven by a desire to play no-holds-barred rock and roll music, and this often meant breaking the established rules followed by those who were playing on the radio. The garage bands created music that sometimes sounded more like noise than music because of their commitment to expressive freedom. The Stooges, led by Iggy Pop, was one of the first punk rock bands, forming in 1968 and playing shows that were unpredictable and bizarre. Pop was known to cut himself and stage dive into the crowd. Another punk rock band that become prominent shortly after The Stooges was the Velvet Underground, which was managed by Andy Warhol. The Velvet Underground became known for music that explored and expanded their listeners’ understanding of what defined music. They were, in fact, often accused of making only noise. The 1970s saw the rise of a localized punk rock scene with bands playing show regularly in New York City. This included bands that would become well-known such as The Ramones, The Talking Heads, and Blondie. These bands would become influential in the development and continued popularity of punk rock in American culture. While punk rock was forming in America, it was also being formed by bands in England as well, most notably by a band called The Sex Pistols. The Sex Pistols had their own form of anti-establishment agendas, often attacking in their lyrics what they considered to be blind conformity to the Crown of England. The Sex Pistols would be influential to later punk rock bands in both England and America. Another influential band from this period in England was The Clash. Their music combined punk with other musical styles to create a type of musical hybrid. As punk rock continued to develop throughout the 1980s, a certain punk rock culture, characterized by youthful rebellion, began to form as well with people wearing styles of clothing that were dubbed punk rock style. The music had become more than just music. In the 1990s, bands like The Offspring, Green Day, and Blink-182 continued to pound out punk rock music, increasing its popularity with crowds up to the modern day.
Since the dawn of music, man has pushed to evolve everything; to transmute that which is simple and good into that which is epic and fantastic. Music is no exception to that rule. Between 1969 and 1976, punk rock emerged into the music scene, mostly from the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. The sound was new, but not what anyone in the business would call fresh. Jarring and up-beat, punk rock was the music of a generation that was mad at their dads. It came at an age when the world was a little volatile anyway, edging in to the cold war in the 80’s. Punk rock started more than a genre; it begat a movement and sub culture that persists today as life-style. The studded jackets, platform Doc Martens, and leopard print belts are a lasting product of the movement, fashionably for better or for worse. The biggest difference in the punk versus rock argument really comes down to what instrument you play. If you are a punk drummer, you will argue that there is twice as much kick drum in your music. If you thump a fat bass, then you would probably describe your bass line as less stable, but groovier than the rhythm line a bass provides to basic rock music. If you are the singer in a punk band, your voice is probably sore and you are probably swimming in women. If you play something ridiculous like a trombone, maybe try jazz, but you can probably squeeze that in somewhere in a punk band. Such is the punk life. What is important to remember about punk rock is that it is a byproduct of the rock and roll movement. There wouldn’t be The Ramones without Elvis, there wouldn’t be The Clash without Johnny Cash. The heavy beat carried over from rock and roll, but the melodic harmonies were left in the 50s and 60s, replaced by the raging heart of punk’s finest lyrics and streams of perfect expression from imperfect voices. It’s not like rock with its twelve bar structure’ it can go anywhere. The beauty of punk is that there are no rules.