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History Essay:
Rock 'n' Roll in the Sixties

The sixties brought in a new direction -- a style of tight melodic vocal on a harmony backing. Artists like Smoky Robinson and the Miracles, The Temptations, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Gladys Knight and The Four Tops brought us what came to be known as the "Motown sound". Across the Atlantic an invasion was shaping up. In England a group influenced by Carl Perkins and Elvis known as "The Beatles" had worked their way up from playing at schools and clubs to national celebrity status. It almost seemed as if the four young gents' magnetic personalities and trend setting haircuts might have been responsible for their success as much their musical prowess - which they had in abundance. No matter. They soon took over North America and the world. Many other British "The.." groups followed -- hence the term "invasion." These bands included The Searchers, The Yardbirds, The Kinks, The Who and oh yes, The Rolling Stones. The 'Stones like many British bands, had cut their musical teeth on imported American blues records by artists like Howlin' Wolf. The influence this had on their music was to help turn mid sixties rock 'n' roll around to it's original rebellious direction -- but this time a lot louder and angrier than before. It seemed there was now more "rock" and less "roll" on every new record. Rock 'n' roll had suddenly become just "rock".

Towards the late sixties the lyrics on forthcoming rock albums started to embrace the drug or psychedelic culture of that era. Groups such as The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and the Jimi Hendrix Experience tore rock 'n' roll away from it's dance roots. Aided in large part by (then) new stereophonic recording techniques, these artists and others turned out many long, aurally complex songs that were quite abstract in nature. This trend was not lost on the Beatles, culminating with the release of their landmark Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album in the summer of 1967.

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