The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1963

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Flatiron Books, Nov 15, 2016 - Music - 384 pages

Ed Ward covers the first half of the history of rock & roll in this sweeping and definitive narrative—from the 1920s, when the music of rambling medicine shows mingled with the songs of vaudeville and minstrel acts to create the very early sounds of country and rhythm and blues, to the rise of the first independent record labels post-World War II, and concluding in December 1963, just as an immense change in the airwaves took hold and the Beatles prepared for their first American tour. The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1 shines a light on the far corners of the genre to reveal the stories behind the hugely influential artists who changed the musical landscape forever.

In this first volume of a two-part series, Ward shares his endless depth of knowledge and through engrossing storytelling hops seamlessly from Memphis to Chicago, Detroit, England, New York, and everywhere in between. He covers the trajectories of the big name acts like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Ray Charles, while also filling in gaps of knowledge and celebrating forgotten heroes such as the Burnette brothers, the “5” Royales, and Marion Keisker, Sam Phillips’s assistant, who played an integral part in launching Elvis’s career.

For all music lovers and rock & roll fans, Ward spins story after story of some of the most unforgettable and groundbreaking moments in rock history, introducing us along the way to the musicians, DJs, record executives, and producers who were at the forefront of the genre and had a hand in creating the music we all know and love today.


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User Review  - Opinionated - LibraryThing

Excellent. Ward takes the jumbled story of the birth of rock and roll, from its roots in blues, rockabilly and country until the arrival of The Beatles on an unsuspecting America, and makes sense of ... Read full review

The History of Rock & Roll. Vol. 1: 1920–1963

User Review  - Book Verdict

Writing about something as multifaceted as the history of rock and roll is a daunting task. Fortunately, historian Ward (NPR's Fresh Air; coauthor, Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock and ... Read full review

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About the author (2016)

ED WARD is the rock and roll historian on NPR’s Fresh Air and one of the founders of SXSW. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and countless other music magazines. He is also the coauthor of Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll. He lives in Austin, TX.

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