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Rock & Roll: From The Beginning

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Episode 8: Black R&B in the ’60s & ’70s

Along with guest Richard March, Traditional and Ethnic Arts Coordinator for the Wisconsin Arts Board, we’ll start by dealing briefly with the “uptown” rhythm & blues style of such artists as Sam Cooke and Ben E. King and the Drifters in the early ’60s. From there we turn to Berry Gordy of Motown Records and his distinctive gospel-pop synthesis, represented here by (among others) Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Supremes and Marvin Gaye. We’ll also look at the unique elements of the soul...


Episode 7: Bob Dylan

For Episode 7 we’ll talk about Bob Dylan, focusing initially on his music in the early ’60s which engaged most directly in social and political criticism. From there we’ll move on to Dylan’s adaptation of electric instruments and the birth of the folk-rock style and, after that, the various twists and turns of his musical and literary style into the early ’80s. We’ll also take a quick look at the Byrds, one of the folk-rock groups that followed in Dylan’s wake.


Episode 6: The Beatles, part 2

This second episode on the Beatles will begin with a discussion of their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and continue on with a survey of some of their later albums, notably the White Album, Let It Be and Abbey Road.


Episode 5: The Beatles, part 1

The first of two episodes on the Beatles, we’ll concentrate on their early years, especially their musical influences and highlight the most distinctive elements of their early style. Moving on through the Beatles’ middle period, we’ll discuss the Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night and Help! albums and spend some time talking about two of their most unique albums– Rubber Soul and Revolver.


Episode 4: Popular folk music, the Teen Idols, and the Beach Boys

This episode will concentrate on various new developments in the late ’50s and early ’60s, notably the popular folk music style of that period. We’ll introduce some of the precursors of that movement (e.g., Pete Seeger and the Weavers) as well as some of the most popular folk artists such as the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, and Joan Baez. Turning to the Teen Idols, we’ll briefly examine stars such as Pat Boone, Paul Anka, Fabian and others with a nod toward Dick Clark and his influence...


Episode 3: R&B Rock & Roll

Episode 3 surveys those ’50s artists whose music most clearly and dynamically draws from the urban blues and rhythm & blues and gospel styles of the late ’40s and early ’50s. We’ll focus on Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino, who combined R&B influence with remnants of the older Tin Pan Alley tradition. We’ll also take a look at Ray Charles and his unique mixture of stylistic elements and comment on some of the major black vocal groups of the ’50s.


Episode 2: Rockabilly

This episode deals with rockabilly, that combination of rhythm & blues and country & western (or “Hillbilly”) music that emerged in Sam Phillip’s Sun Records studio and elsewhere in the early and mid-’50s. Sun Records artists such as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis will be the focus but we’ll also look at other approaches to rockabilly from artists such as Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers.


Episode 1: Antecedents and Influences on Early Rock & Roll

The first episode in the Rock & Roll: From the Beginning series looks at antecedents of and influences on early rock & roll, including early blues (with a brief discussion of the so-called “blues scale” and blues progression), urban blues, gospel music, Boogie Woogie, Jump (or riff) band blues, and the country & western styles of the ’40s and ’50s.


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