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Chronology of Rock ‘n Roll

1931 -1965



Elvis & Theosophy

It is reported that several definitive Theosophical texts were

included in a personal library that Elvis took on tour.



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To the British public, Rock ‘n Roll began in 1954 with the release of Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and His Comets.

The term Rock ‘n Roll and the musical style had been around in the United States for many years previously.


Rock ‘n Roll had been a popular term, for decades, in Black American Culture to refer to dancing or sex and had been used in many songs.


Prior to the late 1940s the term used to denote music by black American artists for black audiences was Race Music. The record industry introduced the less emotive term Rhythm ‘n Blues as a marketing ploy to sell black music to white audiences.

The term Rhythm ‘n Blues has run side by side with Rock ‘n Roll since that time.


In 1951 Disc Jockey Alan Free used to term Rock ‘n Roll to refer specifically to music when he started his radio show “Moondog Rock 'n Roll Party” which played black music for a white teenage audience.


Bill Haley and His Comets


The term Rock ‘n Roll became mainstream with Bill Haley and His Comets in 1954 but the style he adopted was very close to that of Louis Jordan who had been playing in that style for a over a decade. Bill Haley’s popularity burnt out after a couple of years, although he had several revivals up to 1974, and Rock ‘n Roll was carried forward by Elvis Presley, Little Richard and others.


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Adolph Rickenbacker invents the electric guitar.



Billboard puts out its first record sales chart in 1936.



Bluesman Robert Johnson records his first record.

Pete Johnson and Joe Turner cut their first boogie records in Kansas City.

Boom of boogie woogie in Chicago.

Telefunken helps develop magnetic tape for use with tape recorders.

John Hammond's 'Spirituals to Swing' concert in NYC

Saxophonist Louis Jordan leaves Chick Webb's sax section to form his Tympany Five. This might well mark the beginnings of what we know as Rock and Roll.


Louis Jordan



Leo Mintz founds a record store in Cleveland, the "Record Rendezvous", specializing in black music. This was a revolutionary and bold step in selling black music to white customers



  Louis Jordan launches "jump blues" (rhythm and blues) with "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie "

Los Angeles bluesman T-Bone Walker incorporates jazz chords into the blues guitar with "IGot A Break Baby"

Savoy is founded in Newark (NJ) to promote black music



King Records is founded in Cincinnati by Syd Nathan to record hillbilly. In 1946 adds race music.



Les Paul invents "echo delay", "multi-tracking" and many other studio techniques

Johnny Otis assembles a combo for "Harlem Nocturne" that is basically ashrunk-down version of the big-bands of swing

Jules Bihari founds Modern Records in Los Angeles, specializing in black music



Muddy Waters cuts the first records of Chicago's electric blues

Carl Hogan plays a powerful guitar riff on Louis Jordan's "Ain't That Just Like a Woman"

Lew Chudd founds Imperial Records in Los Angeles, specializing in black music

Specialty Records is founded by Art Rupe in Los Angeles to specialize in black popularmusic



Billboard writer Jerry Wexler invents the term "rhythm and blues" for electric blues

Roy Brown writes and cuts "Good Rockin' Tonight" in Texas

Chess Records is founded in Chicago by two Polish-born Jews, Leonard and Phil Chessm to promote blues and later rhythm and blues

Ahmet Ertegun founds Atlantic Records in New York to promote black music at the border between jazz, rhythm and blues and pop



Detroit R&B saxophonist Wild Bill Moore releases "We're Gonna Rock We'reGonna Roll"

John Lee Hooker records Boogie "Chillen'" for Modern Records, a a single, which topped the

R&B charts in 1949.

Columbia introduces the 12-inch 33-1/3 RPM long-playing vinyl record

Homer Dudley invents the Vocoder (Voice Operated recorder)

Memphis' radio station WDIA hires Nat Williams, the first black disc jockey

The magazine Billboard introduces charts for "hillbilly" and "race" records



Fats Domino cuts "The Fat Man," a new kind of boogie.

Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues" reaches the top of the country charts.

Scatman Crothers cuts "I Want To Rock And Roll" (1949), with Wild Bill Moore on saxophone.

RCA Victor introduces the 45 RPM vinyl record.

Todd Storz of the KOWH radio station starts the Top 40 radio program.

The Billboard chart for "race" records becomes the chart for "rhythm and blues" records.

Aristocrat changes its name to Chess.

Dewey Phillips (white) deejays race music show 'Red Hot and Blue' in Memphis  (Delta blues, Chicago blues, boogie).



The white Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed decides to speculate on the success of LeoMintz's store and starts a radio program, Moondog Rock'n'Roll Party, that broadcasts black music to an audience of white teenagers.

The first rock and roll record, Ike Turner's Rocket 88, is released.

The first juke-box that plays 45 RPM records is introduced

Howling Wolf and Joe Turner popularize the "shouters"

Gunter Lee Carr cuts the dance novelty "We're Gonna Rock ".



Bill Haley Saddlemen become the Comets.

Bob Horn's Bandstand TV program airs from Philadelphia every weekday afternoon.

The Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed (aka Moondog) organizes the first rock and rollconcert, the Moondog Coronation Ball

Les Paul invents the first solid-body electric guitar, named the 'Les Paul', for the Gibson Guitar Company.

Sam Phillips founds Sun Records and declares "If I could find a white man who sings withthe Negro feel, I'll make a million dollars".

Charles Brown's "Hard Times" is the first hit by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to enter the charts.        

Little Richard's first records released.


Little Richard



Bill Haley's "Crazy Man Crazy" is the first rock and roll song to enter the Billboard charts

The Orioles' "Crying in the Chapel" is the first black hit to top the white pop charts

Leo Fender invents the Stratocaster guitar

Sam Phillips records the first Elvis Presley record in his Sun studio of Memphis using tworecorders to produce an effect of "slapback" audio delay

The black market constitutes 5.7% of the total American market for records

Vee-Jay Records is founded in Indiana, is owned by James and Vivian Bracken, specializing in black music

Elvis Presley makes his first (private) recordings



Boom of Doo Wop

Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" is the first rock song used in a movie soundtrack

The record companies switch from 78 RPMs to 45 RPMs

Japanese electronic company TTK (later Sony) introduces the world's first transistor radio

Ray Charles forms his band

In 1954, Big Joe Turner recorded the original version of the 1950s hit, Shake, Rattle and Roll.

Johnny Cash forms the Tennessee Two with Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant



Chuck Berry cuts his first rock and roll records, the first ones to have the guitar as the maininstrument, and invents the descending pentatonic double-stops (the essence of rock guitar)

Bo Diddley invents the "hambone" rhythm

The Chordettes and the Chantels are the first girl-groups

Ray Charles creates "soul" music with "I Got A Woman," a secular adaptation of an oldgospel

Ace Records is formed by Johnny Vincent in New Orleans, specializing in black music

The Blackboard Jungle is released featuring Bill Haley and His Comets "(We're Gonna) Rock Around the  Clock"

RCA signs Elvis Presley

The Everly Brothers make their first studio recordings

Alan Freed's Rock 'n' Roll Ball" draws huge, half-white audience

Carl Perkins records "Blue Suede Shoes"

Sales of 45 rpm records finally outsold 78s.



Colonel Tom Parker signed on as Elvis Presley’s manager

Heartbreak Hotel starts Presley-mania

Presley's first film, Love Me Tender

The rock 'n' roll music of white rockers is called "rockabilly" (rock + hillbilly)

Screamin Jay Hawkins' "I Put A Spell On You" introduces voodoo into Rock'n Roll

Wanda Jackson is the "Queen of Rockabilly"

The popularity of rock and roll causes the record industry to boom and allows independentlabels to flourish

In impromptu recording session occurs at Sun Studios with the million dollar quartet consisting of  Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash

Elektra pioneers the "compilation" record, containing songs by different musicians

Buddy Holly had his first official recording session in 1956. It was held in  Nashville at producer

Owen Bradley’s, Barn Studio.

Brenda Lee signs a recording contract at the age of 11, after five years of singing professionally

Gene Vincent made his first appearance on national TV by performing on The Perry Como Show

American Bandstand first aired on nationwide TV



Chuck Berry releases "School Day" and "Rock and Roll Music"

Golden Age of the teen-idols

Link Wray's Rumble invents the "fuzz-tone" guitar sound

Buddy Holly recorded, That’ll Be the Day, at a Norman Petty's New Mexico studio.

Billboard begins the Hot 100 singles chart

Buddy Holly and  Sam Cooke made their first appearances on the same The Ed SullivanShow



Elvis is drafted into the Army

Carl Perkins left Sun Records in 1958,becoming the first big rockabilly artist on the Columbia label.

Golden age of instrumental rock

Eddie Cochran overdubs all instruments and vocals on "Summertime Blues" and "C'mon Everybody "

Lowman Pauling invents guitar distortion and feedback on the Five Royales' "The Slummer"

RCA introduces the first stereo long-playing records  

Don Kirshner opens offices at the Brill Building

David Seville's "The Witch Doctor" and the Tokens' "Tonite I Fell In Love" are the firstnovelty hits

Bobby Freeman's "Do You Wanna Dance" begins the "dance craze"

Stax Records is founded in Memphis to promote black music

Little Richard quit rock and roll in 1958 to attend Bible college.

Dion and The Belmonts and Laurie Records both had their first hit when the band’s, "I Wonder Why," made the Top 40

Jerry Lee Lewis had 34 of his 37 concert dates in the U.K. cancelled in 1958 when it wasdiscovered that his new bride with him was also his 13 year old cousin.

Buddy Holly makes his final studio recordings " It Doesn’t Matter Any More," "Moondreams," " Raining

In My Heart" and "True Love Ways"

The Dick Clark Show TV Show began



Rick Hall founds the FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama

The Drifters' "There Goes My Baby" introduces Latin rhythm to pop music Berry Gordy founds Tamla-Motown in Detroit to release pop-oriented soul records

600 million records are sold in the USA

Buddy Holly dies at 22 in a plane crash

Since 1955, the US market share of the four "majors" has dropped from 78% to 44%,while the market share of independent record companies increased from 22% to 56%

Since 1955, the US market has increased from 213 million dollars to 603 million, and the market share of rock and roll has increased from 15.7% to 42.7%



Elvis appears on the Ed Sullivan Show following his release from the Army.

Twist is the biggest dance-craze in the year of the dance-crazes

Larry Parnes, Britain's most famous impresario, arranges a show for the Silver Beetles in Liverpool

Sam Cooke signed with RCA Records in 1960, bringing his hits on Keen Records with him

The Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" coins a form of romantic multi-part vocal harmonies

The British producer Joe Meek uses the recording studio like an instrument for "I Hear a New World "

Eddie Cochran dies at 22

Ray Charles has his first Number 1 hit "Georgia On My Mind "



Dick Dale uses the term "surfing" to describe his instrumental rock and roll Stax begins to produce soul records in Memphis

The Peppermint Lounge opens in New York

Roy Orbison has his first number #1 hit, "Running Scared"

Phil Spector and partner Lester Sill released the "Oh Yeah Maybe Baby" on their new label Philles



The Supremes first recordings are released.

James Brown record his famous Live At the Apollo album



Surf music rules the airwaves

Little Stevie Wonder recorded his first Number 1 hit, "Fingertips – Pt. 2,"



Alan Freed, the man who gave rock ‘n’ roll its name,  dies at the early age of 43





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Quotes from the Writings of

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky


Blavatsky Quotation


That which is to be shunned is pain not yet come. The past cannot be changed or amended; that which belongs to the experience of the present cannot and should  not be shunned; but alike to be shunned are disturbing anticipations or fears of  the future, and every act or impulse that may cause present or future pain to ourselves or others.

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Blavatsky Quotation


Perfection, to be fully such, must be born out of imperfection, the incorruptible must grow out of the corruptible, having the latter as its vehicle and basis and contrast

The Secret Doctrine , Volume 2, Page 100


Blavatsky Quotation


It is only by the attractive force of the contrasts that the two opposites — Spirit and Matter — can be cemented together on Earth, and, smelted in the fire of self-conscious experience and suffering, find themselves wedded in Eternity.

The Secret Doctrine , Volume 2, Page 108


Blavatsky Quotation


Strength to step forward is the primary need of him who has chosen his path. Where is this to be found? Looking round, it is not hard to see where other men find their strength. Its source is profound conviction.

Practical Occultism, Page 67


Blavatsky Quotation


It is the motive, and the motive alone, which makes any exercise of power become black, malignant, or white, beneficent Magic. It is impossible to employ spiritual forces if there is the slightest tinge of selfishness remaining in the operator .... The powers and forces of animal nature can equally be used by the selfish and revengeful, as by the unselfish and the all-forgiving; the powers and forces of spirit lend themselves only to the perfectly pure in heart — and this is Divine Magic.

Practical Occultism, Page 7


Blavatsky Quotation


Finite reason agrees with science, and says: “There is no God”. But, on the other hand, our Ego, that which lives and thinks and feels independently of us in our mortal casket, does more than believe. It knows that there exists a God in nature, for the sole and invincible Artificer of all lives in us as we live in Him. No dogmatic faith or exact science is able to uproot that intuitional feeling inherent in man, when he has once fully realised it in himself.

Isis Unveiled, Volume 1, Page 36


Blavatsky Quotation


It may be a pleasant dream to attempt to conceive of the beauties of the spirit world; but the time can be spent more profitably in a study of the spirit itself, and it is not necessary that the subject for study should be in the spirit world.

Modern Panarion Page 70


Blavatsky Quotation


Physical existence is subservient to the spiritual, and all physical improvement and progress are only the auxiliaries of spiritual progress, without which there could be no physical progress.

Modern Panarion Page 78


Blavatsky Quotation


Mankind — the majority at any rate — hates to think for itself. It resents as an insult the humblest invitation to step for a moment outside the old well-beaten tracks and, judging for itself, to enter into a new path in some fresh direction.

The Secret Doctrine , Volume 3, Page 14


Blavatsky Quotation


Even ignorance is better than Head-learning with no Soul-wisdom to illuminate and guide it.

The Voice of the Silence, Page 43






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