Before Elvis by Larry Birnbaum
The Prehistory of Rock 'n' Roll

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review

The author ends by lamenting that "the definitive study of rock 'n' roll origins has yet to be written." It seems clear that with the present volume, a damned good start has been made.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

An essential work for rock fans and scholars, Before Elvis: The Prehistory of Rock ‘n’ Roll surveys the origins of rock ’n’ roll from the minstrel era to the emergence of Bill Haley and Elvis Presley. Unlike other histories of rock, Before Elvis offers a far broader and deeper analysis of the influences on rock music. Dispelling common misconceptions, it examines rock’s origins in hokum songs and big-band boogies as well as Delta blues, detailing the embrace by white artists of African-American styles long before rock ’n’ roll appeared. This unique study ranges far and wide, highlighting not only the contributions of obscure but key precursors like Hardrock Gunter and Sam Theard but also the influence of celebrity performers like Gene Autry and Ella Fitzgerald.

Too often, rock historians treat the genesis of rock ’n’ roll as a bolt from the blue, an overnight revolution provoked by the bland pop music that immediately preceded it and created through the white appropriation of music till then played only by and for black audiences. In Before Elvis, Birnbaum daringly argues a more complicated history of rock’s evolution from a heady mix of ragtime, boogie-woogie, swing, country music, mainstream pop, and rhythm-and-blues—a melange that influenced one another along the way, from the absorption of blues and boogies into jazz and pop to the integration of country and Caribbean music into rhythm-and-blues.

Written in an easy style, Before Elvis presents a bold argument about rock’s origins and required reading for fans and scholars of rock ’n’ roll history.
 

About Larry Birnbaum

See more books from this Author
For some 35 years, Larry Birnbaum has written for periodicals ranging from Down Beat to the New York Times and edited books and magazines about music.
 
Published December 14, 2012 by Scarecrow Press. 474 pages
Genres: Arts & Photography, Humor & Entertainment, History. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Before Elvis
All: 1 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 0

WSJ online

Excellent
Reviewed by Will Friedwald on May 17 2013

The author ends by lamenting that "the definitive study of rock 'n' roll origins has yet to be written." It seems clear that with the present volume, a damned good start has been made.

Read Full Review of Before Elvis: The Prehistory ... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Reader Rating for Before Elvis
90%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 5 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×