Rock and roll is in the spotlight this week in History of Rock, a massive open online course (MOOC). The course is being conducted on Coursera by John Covach, professor and chair of music at the University of Rochester.
This week the professor is talking about “The Birth and First Flourishing of Rock and Roll (1955 -1959).”
So here we have stars from that era: Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.
They are all mentioned by the professor, who then talks of “the day that music died”.
In 1958, Elvis went into the army. Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in February 1959. Little Richard quit rock and roll to preach in late 1957. The story goes he promised to God during a bumpy flight he would quit rock and roll and serve the Lord if he got out of the plane alive. In late 1959, Chuck Berry was arrested for violating the Mann Act, transporting a minor across state lines. He maintained he was wrongfully charged but served time in prison. There was the Jerry Lee Lewis scandal in May 1958. His third wife, Myra, was found to be his cousin, once removed, and she had been only 13 when they were married. He was blacklisted by radio stations following the scandal.
Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis later made a comeback and Elvis also got back from the army. The music became really great in the Swinging Sixties.