Friday, May 20, 2016

A Simple Question: Who is the Most Influential 50s Rocker?

Karen: Which 50s  rocker has proven to be the most influential? And why? (Don't feel limited to the candidates below.)





14 comments:

Colin Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Like Colin said, Elvis. His ubiquity probably lead to more people discovering rock n' roll than anything else.

In terms of sound, though... huh. Maybe Chuck Berry? He was the best, most recognizable guitarist from the era and I know most of the '60s rockers that followed loved his music. Hell, Keith Richards even made a concert film about him in the '80s. "Johnny B. Goode" is the quintessential rock song, IMHO. He didn't have Elvis's sales, though.

Little Richard may be the second most influential vocalist after the King.Carl Perkins was like a proto-Elvis with better guitar chops, but never reached the same heights of fame and fortune. Jerry Lee Lewis flamed out, at least in the public consciousness. Buddy Holly was one of the greats, but I don't hear his influence in later music as strongly as Elvis or Chuck Berry.

- Mike Loughlin

J.A. Morris said...

I'd go with Elvis, like him or not, he (as much as anyone) made rock n roll the dominant popular music in this country for 50 years. I like some of his music, but of the people listed, I'd say Little Richard and Buddy Holly are who I listen to the most.

Doug said...

If the play "Million Dollar Quartet" is ever in your area, go see it. We've seen it in Chicago and it's a ton of fun. If you're not aware of it, there was one night when Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis all got together for a session at Sun Records. The play dramatizes that evening. The cast we saw was outstanding.

Doug

Karen said...

Hmmm... I guess I don't see it as cut and dried as everyone else. Of course, Elvis was a huge cultural influence. But I hear the others in so many bands and artists. I think an argument could be made for Chuck Berry, easily. His influence on the Beatles, the Stones, Beach Boys, etc was huge. They in turn were role models for so much that came after. Or Little Richard (who sadly is quite ill). His look was certainly emulated by many. The 'Bo Diddley Beat'? The man had a sound named after him. I just can't dismiss these greats out of hand.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's almost a tie between Elvis and Chuck. But as Karen pointed out, Chuck seems to have influenced the British Invasion quite a bit.

Mike Wilson

Steve W. said...

Speaking as someone who wasn't there, I would suspect that Elvis influenced more people to want to become Rock and Rollers, while Berry had the most influence on how they actually sounded.

From the British perspective, The Shadows' guitarist Hank Marvin probably deserves a mention. From interviews I've heard over the years, it seems that virtually every guitarist who came out of Britain in the 1960s started out trying to sound like him, including the likes of George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Dave Gilmour, Pete Townshend and Jeff Beck. He pretty much invented the concept of the British guitar hero. The reason Mark Knopfler always used to play that red Stratocaster was because it looked like the one that Marvin played.

Edo Bosnar said...

I'm more with Karen on this one: I see influence as the effect someone had on later musicians and the music we listen to. So yes, Elvis was immensely popular and became a legend in his own time, but Chuck Berry's overwhelming influence on all later rock can't be disputed, and in that regard I think both Bo Diddley and Little Richard were probably more influential than Elvis. And Doug beat me to it, but yes, Carl Perkins was also immensely influential on an entire generation of later guitar heroes.
Also, I just have to mention here someone whose influence was definitely indirect, but who - in my opinion - pretty much invented rock 'n' roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe - check out some of her stuff on YouTube. The sound quality isn't great on most of them, but you can definitely hear her mastery of the electric guitar...

Martinex1 said...

It's hard to argue with the legends presented above like Elvis, Chuck, Little Richard etc. so I won't even try. Those are candidates for the Mount Rushmore of early Rock n Roll.

But can I just give a shout out to The Big Bopper. I liked the beat and happiness and the humor of songs like Chantilly Lace. I think some of the novelty songs influenced other things as well.

Now if we drifted into the early 60s we could talk about Dick Dale, but that's for another time.

Karen said...

Martinex, I'd love to talk about Dick Dale, although it might just be the two of us. I saw him play last year and he still blazes. I had to laugh, too -the venue was an auditorium at a music museum, where most of the acts are much more, uh, sedate. Prior to the show, they had handed out ear plugs and issued a warning about how loud it would get. I didn't use the ear plugs -I wanted to hear everything clearly. During the first 30 minutes or so, Dick kept going over and turning his amp up higher and higher. I was in the third row and was nearly deaf by the time he finished. But it was great.

It is a shame though, that he is in bad health and really has to be out on the road to pay his medical bills. That guy was such a pioneer, he should never have to worry about money.

Garett said...

Steve, I read Randy Bachman's (Guess Who, BTO) book recently: https://www.amazon.ca/Randy-Bachmans-Vinyl-Tap-Stories/dp/067006579X
and he talks about The Shadows and Hank Marvin being a huge inspiration.

Elvis was great as a performer, but Buddy Holly may have been the biggest influence in terms of songwriting. Chuck Berry played a great guitar, but many of his songs do sound the same. Holly had more range, and perhaps influenced more musicians to become singer-songwriters and not only crooners.

Martinex1 said...

Dick Dale is fantastic. A true pioneer. I would love to see him play live; jealous of that. And what a larger than life character, playing his first fender upside down left handed and cranking out that wonderful sound with his flying fast fingers, blowing out amp after amp. Influencing folks from Jeff Beck to Stevie Ray Vaughan to Laika & the Cosmonauts (a band from Finland).

Here's a lasting influence (and it may be a legend) Dale recorded the music for Disney's Space Mountain! I heard he played on top of Space Mountain for the opening- have no idea if that's true. Maybe some West Coasters know.

You cannot have surf music or any of the high speed rolling twang without Dale.

Redartz said...

Think I'd have to go with Elvis, at least in terms of popular influence. But as others have mentioned, musically the likes of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and other R&B figures seem more
integral. Also have to give a nod to Eddie Cochran, if only for "Summertime Blues"...

Anonymous said...

Wow what a list of musical legends here. I'm not a music historian, but Elvis aside, my pick would be Chuck Berry.

- Mike 'don't step on my blue suede shoes' from Trinidad & Tobago.

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