The history of British Rock Music

British rock describes a wide variety of forms of music made in the United Kingdom. There are many bands that have reached fame all around the world, but British bands are said to be the most significant and most influential. During the 1950’s, Britain was well positioned to take in American rock and roll music culture since they both shared the same terminology. During the stated period, American rock and roll acts such as Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Buddy Holly became major forces in the British charts. The British bands were heavy worked by American groups of the epoch, such as Buddy Holly and the Crickets, as easily as earlier British groups such as The Shadows.

During the mid to late 1960’s, developed a new sub-genre, called the British folk rock. It used traditional English music as its basis. The British folk rock became influential in those parts of the world with close cultural connections to Britain, such as the USA and Canada and gave rise to the sub-genre of Medieval folk rock and the fusion genres of folk punk and folk metal. After the national success of the Beatles in Britain from 1962, a number of Liverpool performers were able to adopt them into the charts, including Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Searchers, and Cilla Black. In parallel with beat music, in the late 1950s and early 1960s a British blues scene was developing recreating the sounds of American R&B and later particularly the sounds of bluesmen Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters.

British band Black Sabbath created another sub-genre of hard rock called «heavy metal», with hard-rock guitar riffs and power chords over rolling drumbeats and a very heavy bass sound. Singer Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals, often about dark topics like violence, war and death, were screamed over the music’s thick wall of sound. Heavy metal is still popular today, and its fans, nearly all of whom are boys and young men, love nodding and punching their fists into the air to the beat of the music. Later heavy metal bands included British bands Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Motorhead, and American bands Motley Crue, Metallica and Megadeath. Dozens of sub-genres like «thrash metal» and «death metal» have also developed more recently.

Glam rock developed in the UK during the early 1970’s. It was characterized by “outrageous” clothes, makeup, hairstyles, and platform-soled boots. Pioneers of the genre included David Bowie, Roxy Music, Mott the Hoople, Marc Bolan and T. Rex. These, and many other acts straddled the divide between pop and rock music, managing to maintain a level of respectability with rock audiences, while enjoying success in the UK singles chart, including Queen and Elton John. The Punk Rock developed between 1974 and 1976, originally in the United States where it was rooted in garage rock. By the early 1970s, rock music had become more mainstream, and internationalized, with many British acts becoming massively successful in the United States and globally. Punk rock developed between 1974 and 1976, originally in the United States, where it was rooted in garage rock, and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music. The first punk band is usually thought to be the Ramones from 1976. This was taken up in Britain by bands also influenced by the pub rock scene, like the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned, particularly in London, who became the vanguard of a new musical and cultural movement, blending simple aggressive sounds and lyrics with clothing styles and a variety of anti-authoritarian ideologies.

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А new genre known as «hard rock» was developing in the US city of Detroit, the Stooges and MC5 were creating some of the hardest, loudest and roughest rock music ever made. They didn’t sell many records, but their music had a huge influence on later styles of rock. A hard rock band that did sell lots of records was the British group Led Zeppelin, who had seven consecutive number-one albums during the 70s. Other hard rock bands included Deep Purple, Guns and Roses, Aerosmith and AC/DC. A sub-genre of hard rock called «boogie» became popular in the early 70s. Many progressive rock bands had incorporated synthesizers into their sound, including Pink Floyd, Yes, Depeche Mode and Genesis. Electro is a term that falls in and out of fashion. In the mid Noughties it’s a kind of dance music. But in the early 1980s – in Britain at least – it referred to bands whose music which was often songs, rather than instrumentals, was made mostly with synthesisers. The artists often had connections to the New Romantics and the post-punks; since it developed from both of those and the dark overtones of the lyrics forged a connection with the emerging Goth scene. But it was the use of electronic keyboards as the main instruments that set it apart.

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Britpop emerged from the British independent music scene of the early 1990s and was characterised by bands influenced by British guitar pop music of the 1960s and 1970s. New British groups such as Suede and Blur launched the movement by positioning themselves as opposing musical forces, referencing British guitar music of the past and writing about uniquely British topics and concerns. These bands were soon joined by others including Oasis, Pulp, Supergrass, The Boo Radleys, Kula Shaker, Ash, Ocean Colour Scene and Elastica. Britpop groups brought British alternative rock into the mainstream and formed the backbone of a larger British cultural movement called Cool Britannia. Although its more popular bands were able to spread their commercial success overseas, especially to the United States, the movement largely fell apart by the end of the decade.

From about 1997, as dissatisfaction grew with the concept of Cool Britannia, and Britpop as a movement began to dissolve, emerging bands began to avoid the Britpop label while still producing music derived from it. Many of these bands tended to mix elements of British traditional rock (or British trad rock), particularly the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Small Faces,with American influences, including post-grunge.Radiohead, Placebo and Post-Britpop bands like The Verve, Travis, Stereophonics, Feeder, and particularly Coldplay, achieved much wider international success than most of the Britpop groups that had preceded them, and were some of the most commercially successful acts of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

In the 2000s British indie rock experienced a resurgence. Like modern American alternative rock, many British indie bands such as Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines and Bloc Party drew influences from post-punk groups such as Joy Division, Wire, and Gang of Four. Other prominent independent rock bands in the 2000s include: Editors, The Fratellis, Lostprophets, Razorlight, Keane, Kaiser Chiefs, Muse, Kasabian, The Cribs, The Maccabees, The Kooks and Arctic Monkeys.

With developments in computer technology and music software advanced, it became possible to create high quality music using little more than a single laptop computer. This resulted in a massive increase in the amount of home-produced electronic music available to the general public via the expanding internet, and new forms of performance such as laptronica and live coding.In Britain the combination of indie with American pioneered dance-punk was dubbed new rave in publicity for Klaxons and the term was picked up and applied by the NME to a number of bands, including Trash Fashion, New Young Pony Club, Hadouken!, Late of the Pier, Test Icicles, and Shitdisco forming a scene with a similar visual aesthetic to earlier raves.

Rock albums.

  • The BeatlesRubber Soul, Revolver, Rolling StonesLet It Bleed
  • CreamDisraeli Gears, Jimi HendrixAre You Experienced, Axis
  • Velvet Undergroundwith Nico, CanEge Bamyasi, Pink FloydMeddle
  • The DoorsThe Doors, Neil YoungEverybody Knows This Is Nowhere
  • CCRWilly and the Poor Boys, John LennonPlastic Ono Band, Imagine
  • Black SabbathParanoid, Led ZeppelinIV, The StoogesFunhouse
  • BowieAladdin Sane, EnoAnother Green World, Patti SmithHorses
  • The ClashLondon Calling, BlondieParallel Lines, SaintsEternally Yours
  • Pere UbuThe Modern Dance, U2War, Primal ScreamScreamadelica
  • Pearl JamTen, NirvanaNevermind, My Bloody ValentineLoveless
  • OasisDefinitely Maybe, RadioheadThe Bends, Flaming LipsSoft Bulletin
  • Nick CaveLet Love In, PJ HarveyTo Bring You My Love, StrokesIs This It
  • White StripesElephant, Black KeysTurn Blue, SwansTo Be Kind, BJMRevelation
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Quiz Game. Answer the following questions

  1. What kind of rock was the most famous in the 1960s?
  2. Who had created a new genre of hard rock called «heavy metal»?
  3. Would you name the pioneers of glam rock?
  4. What are the most famous British hard rock bands?
  5. What are the main characteristics of electronic rock?
  6. Are there any differences between old-fashioned rock and modern rock?
  7. Would you name any albums of British rock bands?

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