Welcome to week two of The History of Rock Part One, here on Coursera. This week, we're going to talk about the birth and first flourishing of rock and roll. So that's the period from 1950 till the end of the decade, 1959, 1960. In this video, we're going to talk about the rise of youth culture during that period. But before we do, let's briefly review what we talked about in week one. And remember that, one of the main points of week one, is that there were three principle marketing categories, or divisions of popular music in the period up to 1955. That was mainstream pop, Country and Western, in Rhythm and Blues, and we went through each of those, the history of each of those styles a bit to get a sense of what was going on leading up to 1955. We also raised the question why is 1955 the birth of Rock and Roll, why should we choose that particular here. So now, we're going to focus in on 1955 and see if we can understand how it is Rock and Roll took off the way it did, and why it should be seen as something different from the styles that came before, and I'll give the story away a little bit by saying one of the main ideas that What's often taught with regard to the beginning of Rock and Roll, is that Rock and Roll constitutes the blending of Country and Western, and Rhythm and Blues, with mainstream pop. So it's the blend of those three. With some gospel thrown in on the side and some doo-wop as well that really create what rock and roll is. What I will say is that rock and roll happens when these styles become mainstream pop styles. That is when Rhythm and Blues and Country and Western things crossover from their individual markets into the mainstream pop market and that's what we're going to talk about this week. So let's start with talking a little bit about the entire flow of what we'll say this week about the chapter. The period from 1955 through 1959 is considered the first wave of Rock and Roll. That basically divides up into the period before Elvis that is right at 1954/1955 in that period. Elvis, 1956, and then what happened Elvis, well not after Elvis in the sense that he was gone but after Elvis's initial success. May be better to say in the wake of Elvis. So that's the way we'll divide it up. You may be surprised to find out that Elvis is actually not really at the very beginning of rock and roll, but doesn't make his biggest impact until other artists have in some sense cleared the way for him. I should also take a minute to point out that what you're learning in the Coursera course that we're doing here is really an American perspective on the history of rock music. It's the way this history looks in the United States. We will find out especially when we start to talk about the Beatles and the British Invasion that in many ways, the history of rock and roll looks different in the UK. Some of the same things we're talking about that are going on in the music here are balanced in different kinds of ways in the UK. So for those of you who are taking the course who aren't in the United States please understand that we're talking about the course talking about the subject and the way it looks from the American perspective. The American market being the biggest market really in the world for this music at the time. But that's my caveat. With regard to that. Well, let's now talk about, dig into this idea of the rise of youth culture in the 1950s and talk about the invention of the American teenager. What can I possibly mean by the invention of the American teenager during these years. After all, haven't we always had teenagers? What is it, before Rock and Roll people went from the age of 12 to the age 20 and never went 13 through 19. Of course there's always been teenagers, but up to this point the culture had never really separated teenagers out as their own, sort of, separate, entity in the culture. So, kind of the way it worked is you went to school until you graduated from high school and then when you moved onto college or into a career or something like that. You put childish things away and became an adult. There wasn't really a transition period that was celebrated in a particular type of way. And there weren't goods and services and products and those types of things that were devoted to teenagers. But what starts to happen during this period Is that parents start to develop maybe a greater sort of care. Well, maybe it's nor fair to say care, because that makes it seem like the parents before, they weren't caring as much about their kids. But they start to really focus more on the children. Maybe that's because coming out of the second world war, a lot of these people, the fathers had been away at work, people came back, war had been a tough time, now the war was over. They wanted to get back to as normal kind of life as they could, and they really focused on doing what they thought was best for their kids, so these kids were a little bit more pampered, maybe, than earlier generations were. There was a lot more focus put on their educations and their general sort of emotional health and this kind of thing, and what that generated was a bunch of kids who, it turned out, had their own clothes, their own language, their own cars, their own ideas of what teen romance was, lot's of leisure time and disposable income. And most importantly, their own music. And Rock and Roll would become the music of that. The idea that all of a sudden kids could be teenagers for a while in a period of time when they were no longer children but weren't quite adults. And there was a whole kind of culture that they could go into that could have all kinds of things that were exclusive to that. This was new in the 1950's and the importance of rock and roll is it was the soundtrack of this new teenage experience. If you want to get an idea of what life was like in the 1950's. For this kind of kid, you might think of films like the 1973 film, American Graffiti, that was one of the early George Lucas films, it was actually set in 1962, but it captures a lot of Of that late 50s kind of ambiance. The television show Happy Days. A lot of people have heard that, have seen it. If you've ever seen the movie Back to the Future with Michael J Fox where they sort of go back to the 50s. Now a lot of that is idealized. There were a lot more problems and there were all kinds of other issues that happened in the 50s that you don't really sort of see in that idealized view of what the 50s were. But that's the idea. A time of innocence. A time of teenagers. It's a Potsie and Ralph Mouth down at the malt shop this kind of thing you know, dancing to the jukebox and this is what the American teenager thing is. I've got friend, some colleagues about the same age as me who didn't have teenage years, or didn't have a sort of teenager culture when they were growing up in the UK at that time. And so, they talk about this as the American invention of the teenager. For us what's important is that it opens up a market for product. And in the second half of the 1950's music will be sold to these teenagers as the music that sets them apart from their parent's generation that's the important thing. We should also talk about the construction of rock n' roll youth and juvenile delinquency that starts to develop at this time. A real concern, because people were concerned with their kids growing up the right way, a real concern that they might take the wrong path and juvenile delinquency, the idea of kids going bad, kids going wrong, really started to become a thing that people were talking about in the culture. You can see this especially in three films that came out just about in the mid 1950's. There's a film from 1953 staring Marlon Brando called The Wild One and one of the main characters, the one played by Brando was a character by the name of Johnny. His motorcycle gang are called The Beatles, sound familiar? We'll get to that in a couple of weeks. Anyway, Johnny is a rebel, and when asked at one point in the movie what he's rebelling against he turns to the person who asked him and says I don't know, what do you got? In other words it was almost rebellion for its own sake but it was certainly viewed as a kind of juvenile delinquency. Another film like that, featured James Dean from 1955 it was called Rebel Without A Cause. Well there you go, rebellion with no reason, rebellion for the sake of rebellion itself. A misunderstood youth. Who, you know, meets tragedy at the end of the film. And that's further reinforced by the fact that the actor, James Dean, actually did meet with a tragic death. And, to a certain extent, that sort of solidifies this idea of dying young, rebellion the thing about The Wild One and Rebel Without A Cause, however, is the music that appears in those movies is not Rock and Roll at all. And so there is not the direct connection with Rock and Roll. But the third movie, Blackboard Jungle, from 1955, starring Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier is about some kids in an inner-city school, and how they're struggling, and their music teacher, one of their teachers likes to play music to try to connect up and in the movie, the music he uses is Jazz to try and talk to these kids, but over the opening credits and later in the movie, the song Rock around the Clock by Bill Hailey and the Comets is played. And with that, with Rock Around the Clock, and Blackboard Jungle, and this whole sense of juvenile delinquency and the concern about it, you get this linking together of rock and roll with troubled youth that will in fact become part of the identity of rock and roll for the rest of its history. What's interesting about that movie, and I guess you'd really have to use your imagination to imagine this happening, is the playing of Rock Around the Clock in the theater when people went to see the film. And the film starts out with this sort of crawling text. That says juvenile delinquency in our country is a big problem, this kind of thing, and then out comes Rock Around the Clock, and kids got so excited about the music when they were seeing this film that they actually started to riot in theaters. There were reports of people tearing out theater seats and this kind of thing. Well, what could more reinforce this idea of rock and roll whipping these kids up into a demonic fever that we needed to do something about in our culture. Keep these kids from going over to the dark side, this kind of thing. Anyway, these films, the youth culture, all this sort of pulled together to create an environment that makes it possible for rock and roll to begin to flourish. Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock was one of the top Pop hits of 1955. In 1955, we really start to see songs that we would think of as rock and roll songs now as top hits on the pop charts. Not just crossing over but being some of the biggest records of that year. Many, of course, records followed. And many R&B songs will start to cross over in the pop, onto the pop charts, and we'll talk about that in just a minute. Now some would argue that there was so much R&B crossing over in 1955 into the pop charts, that what we call rock n roll, would really be better just to be called white rhythm and blues, white R&B. But I'll try to fashion an argument for you, and present an argument for you that shows that rock n roll is really, in some ways a changing of what R&B is, and is worth separating out but for now let's just think about the youth culture that made it possible for rock and roll to happen in this country and turn our attention in the next lecture to how was it that white teens came to hear rhythm and blues in the first place.