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A history of rock and roll music.




1995   Unknown  
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Series cast summary:
 Himself - Narrator (3 episodes, 1995)


This 10-part documentary mini-series traces the history and evolution of rock and roll music, from its rhythm and blues, country, gospel and jazz roots in the early 1950s, through the advent of folk rock, soul, psychadelia, heavy metal, glam, funk, punk, and reggae, to the emergence of rap in the early 1990s. Written by yortsnave

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Documentary | Music






Release Date:

24 September 1995 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

Awesome documentary on history of Rock & Roll
16 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In 1995 two 10 hour mini-series appeared on air simultaneously about the history of rock & roll (the other being History of Rock and Roll by Time-Warner). This one aired first on PBS and seems to stay closer to its documentary roots, and more factual informations are found in this series. Its 10 segments are arranged in the following way:

Episode 1: The Renegades

After World War II, black music was mostly still segregated. They had their own radio stations, and their independent record labels were putting out blues music. Few white folks listened to black music on these records and radio stations and liked them for what they were. Fats Domino was the first black musician to crossover in a major way with his boogie based style and non-threatening persona. Little Richard and Chuck Berry was crossing over with their unique blend of boogie woogie, and country music influence. Sam Phillips of Sun record was recording black blues musicians but couldn't get the crossover hit he was looking for until Elvis Presley walked in his door.

Episode 2: In the Groove

Lieber and Stoller and other song writers like Carol King were situated at the Brill building in NY writing hits for black singers. Aided by these talented writers, black musicians were starting to crossover into the main stream American music scene. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and Phil Spector wrote and produced their own music. They collectively established that song writers can have full creative control over their music. West coast rock scene was also emerging with the advent of "Surf" music.

Episode 3: Shakesperes in the Alley

Bob Dylan was becoming a major star. His lyrics hit a chord with other musicians, and his style was widely adopted. Across the Atlantic the Beatles were creating their own style of music. Music writing styles of both became the major influence of pop music from then on. Force of their talents are featured in this episode.

Episode 4: Respect

Berry Gordy Jr. started his own record label Motown. Motown grew quickly within few years to be the major force in the pop industry as artists and songs were all selected on the basis of having crossover potential. Gordy also hired outside talents such as Maxine Powell, and Charlie Atkins to polish the appearance and style of their artists. Jerry Wexler of Atlantic records worked with STAX records to bring Aritha Franklin into the pop scene, later followed by Otis Redding.

Episode 5: Crossroads

Records of blues men like Muddy Waters found its way by ways of merchant seamen to port cities such as New Castle in Britain which influenced young kids like Eric Burdon, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton in a major way. Alexis Korner started his own band and a club which became the breeding ground for future bands like the Stones and the Cream. One of these musicians, Chas Chandler becomes a producer, and offers Jimi Hendrix a contract in England. Hendrix later breaks big at the '67 Montrey Pop Festival.

Episode 6: Blues in Technicolor

'60s was coming to an end and major experimentation with drugs was invading the culture. Sex, drugs and rock n roll was the way of life then. San Francisco was the Mecca for the drug culture and San Francisco bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane found its way into rock's mainstream. This cumulates one in Woodstock where half a million people came to the concert and other at Altamont Speedway near San Francisco where the Stones was to give a free concert. Altamont ended in death and violence which brought an end to the '60s.

Episode 7: The Wild Side

Lou Reed and his group the Velvet Underground was doing theatrical rock as part of Andy Warhol's stage act. Theatrical rock was coming into the scene with them and another cross dressing pop star David Bowie. Initially Bowie didn't make it big in the America but few years later he finds a much more receptive audience as America was getting used to their own cross dressing rockers like Alice Cooper. Cross dressing and "Glam" continued, and rock concerts turns into a full blown stage production.

Episode 8: Make it Funky

James Brown starts a new type of rhythm and blues called Funk which carries a big beat on the first note of the bar. Funk music finds its roots in black music as Sly Stone and others join the Frey. This episode documents the rise of Funk music as it becomes part of the pop culture in the '70s.

Episode 9: Punk

The Ramones, Blondie, and the Talking Heads all had their start at the CB GB's. The scene influences a clothing store owner from Britain who took some of this idea back to London and presented at his shop. Few kids approached him telling him that they want to start a band. This band was to become the Sex Pistols which would become along with Clash the center piece of Punk music. Punk music didn't really find footings in the affluent middle class America, but 10 years after the wave of Punk music, another type of music from the streets called the "Grunge" takes shape in America.

Episode 10. The Perfect Beat

In New York, dance music scene was going strong. A local DJ later named Grand Master Flash finds out that if he played certain portions of the record repeatedly, crowd will get excited. He would incorporate this into his style which will eventually become Hip-Hop. Other rap artists started to arrive on the scene including an all white group the Beastie Boys. MTV who were somewhat anti-black at the time started to have segments on rap which was a big hit indicating that rap music has come into the mainstream pop culture.

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