(Writer, musicologist and all around good guy, Roger Trott, is this week's guest blogger.)
What do rock music geeks think about when they’re trying to fall asleep?
For this geek, lists come to mind. Anything that I can endlessly roll around in my head until I doze off. Lists like ten best albums of all time. Or ten best songs. Or best rock music decade ever. Or best punk songs of the ‘70s. And on and on.
Lately I’ve been thinking about a new list, one with a bigger scope, and it goes something like this: Which bands or solo artists were the most influential during each decade of the rock ‘n’ roll era? And I don’t mean the most-talented or most-popular. I’m talking about the ones that changed the direction of rock music and inspired others to follow in their wake.
What do I know about this? Probably not much more than you. But I’ve been playing and writing about rock music for longer than it’s healthy, so I guess I’ve got an opinion or two.
To make it easier on myself, I picked two musical acts for each decade. And remember that I’m not talking about mainstream pop music (Madonna, Lady Gaga), straight folk or blues, disco, R&B, hip-hop, or any tangentially related genre, but what’s generally considered to be within the rock genre. Okay, confused? Well, anyhow, here we go. Just don’t fall asleep, because I want to hear what you think.
Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry
Yeah, I know, pretty obvious, at least with Elvis. Not much needs to be said about him. I struggled a little more with my second pick. Certainly other worthy contenders include Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, and the Everly Brothers, who themselves were inspired by the likes of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Jimmy Rogers, to name a few. But I have to go with Chuck Berry. He was indisputably a pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll music, one of the first of a long line of electric guitar gunslingers, and a great showman. The guitar riffs he developed for songs like “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Johnny B. Goode” influenced virtually every electric guitarist who came after him.
Who do you think are the most influential acts of the 1950's?
(Roger Trott is a writer and musician based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Roger's first novel, Getting in Tune, was published in 2008. A former music critic and feature writer, Roger has played bass and guitar for several bands throughout northern Califoria. He is currently working on a novel of musical fiction and continues to play music whenever and wherever possible. You can find loads of interesting tidbits about Roger on his website, www.rogertrott.com.)