Great Rock Musicians: Their Achievements and Effect on Rock and Roll
The blues are undeniably the roots of early rock and roll. Rock today
has mutated so much that the basic blues patterns have been all but lost.
The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the birth of, and evolution of rock
and roll by focusing on three of the arguably greatest rock musicians of the
sixties and seventies.
The origin of the blues can be traced to the emancipation of the slaves
in the rural black areas of the south, where most of the people worked on share-
cropping farms. Musically the blues are defined as a 12-bar chord progression,
harmonized with the corresponding scales and patterns. The chord progression
pattern is four measures of tonic chords followed by two measures of sub-
dominate chords, two more measures of tonic chords, one measure of dominate
chords, one measure of sub dominate chords, and finally two measures of tonic
Blues performers would travel around the south singing about their loss of
love and family, and the pains they were forced to endure. The music became
popular because nearly every one who heard it could identify with its message.
This type of Blues later became known as country blues because it was rooted in
rural areas. The Blues became more main stream and popular in the 1920's
because of the recording industry coming into existence. More instruments were
added such as pianos, organs, and wind instruments.
Big Band and Rhythm and Blues stemmed from City Blues.
Rock and Roll then stemmed from Rhythm and Blues, in fact, many of the
first recorded "Rock" songs where simply white musicians re-recording Rhythm
and Blues songs originally written by black artists.
It took Bob Dylan 23 years to realize that he wanted to become a rock
musician. Bob Dylan, whose birth name was Robert Allen Zimmerman, had a
relatively uneventful childhood in a Minnesota mining town. He adopted his
pseudonym when he went to the University of Minnesota. "Dylan" came from the
Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, with whom Zimmerman was frequently compared in the
University folk circles. After leaving the University, Dylan moved to New
York's Greenwich Village to follow his folk hero, Woodie Gunthrie. In fact, his
main goal of moving to the Village was simply to meet his hero. He not only met
the folk guru, but became a member of his group of followers, or groupies. They
also became good friends.
Gunthrie got him a couple of gigs at various nightclubs around the Village.
Dylan got enough attention at his nightly gigs to be noticed by the Columbia
Record Company, specifically the producer John Hammond. His first record, Bob
Dylan, was just his renditions of previously recorded songs, but it was popular
enough to gain him a long term contract. The recording was so bare bones that
the record cost only $402 dollars to make, not including production.