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Pop/Rock Musicians


Since the term "rock 'n' roll" was first coined by radio disc jockey Alan Freed in the 1950s, rock music has been a significant part of teenage culture. Rock music has always been marketed to teens, purchased by teens, and stirred controversy with parents. Though much of rock music has appealed to all ages, it was the teen culture that evolved in the 1950s that brought the doo-wop and boogie-woogie music of the South to audiences all across the country. Teens, for the first time in U.S. history, were spending their own money, and they were spending it on the records they heard spun on the radio. What had previously been music appreciated primarily by black audiences, was brought to white audiences by the success of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino; and then, later, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

To capitalize on this popularity, recording companies hired songwriters, singers, and musicians to produce rock songs for the masses. Girl groups, such as the Ronettes, were formed in the 1960s. Later that decade, rock took on more diverse sounds, as Motown artists, the Beatles, and other performers experimented with the genre. Though this experimentation led to a variety of musical forms in the 1970s, including folk, heavy metal, disco, and punk, record sales slipped, but not for long. The 1980s saw the huge popularity of the music video and MTV, a cable network that brought music back to the teen culture and revived the music industry.

By the 1990s several networks had followed MTV's example, broadcasting music videos, concerts, and interviews with stars, along with other programming focused on music. And, as in the past, musical styles continued to develop. "Grunge," a sound that drew on classical rock as well as punk music and included an attitude opposing mainstream culture, began with a number of bands mainly from the Seattle area. Nirvana and Pearl Jam eventually became two of the leading groups associated with grunge music that gained national and international popularity. Rap, a style of music in which rhyming lyrics are said over music, and hip hop, which includes saying lyrics over music in addition to the sounds produced when records are intentionally scratched in certain ways, also became nationally popular during this decade, although their roots can be traced back as far as the 1970s. Industrial, house, techno, and reggaeton music are other music styles that gained popularity in the 1990s and 2000s, with roots dating to earlier decades.

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