The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1 by Ed Ward

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A spry study that should inspire listening with newly informed ears to old tunes, from “Bulldozer Blues” to “Teenager in Love” and beyond.


Ed Ward covers the first half of the history of rock & roll in this sweeping and definitive narrative—from the 1920s, when the music of rambling medicine shows mingled with the songs of vaudeville and minstrel acts to create the very early sounds of country and rhythm and blues, to the rise of the first independent record labels post-World War II, and concluding in December 1963, just as an immense change in the airwaves took hold and the Beatles prepared for their first American tour. The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1 shines a light on the far corners of the genre to reveal the stories behind the hugely influential artists who changed the musical landscape forever.

In this first volume of a two-part series, Ward shares his endless depth of knowledge and through engrossing storytelling hops seamlessly from Memphis to Chicago, Detroit, England, New York, and everywhere in between. He covers the trajectories of the big name acts like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Ray Charles, while also filling in gaps of knowledge and celebrating forgotten heroes such as the Burnette brothers, the “5” Royales, and Marion Keisker, Sam Phillips’s assistant, who played an integral part in launching Elvis’s career.

For all music lovers and rock & roll fans, Ward spins story after story of some of the most unforgettable and groundbreaking moments in rock history, introducing us along the way to the musicians, DJs, record executives, and producers who were at the forefront of the genre and had a hand in creating the music we all know and love today.


About Ed Ward

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ED WARD is the rock & roll historian on NPR’s Fresh Air. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and countless other music magazines. He is also the coauthor of Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll and was instrumental in the founding of SXSW. He lives in Austin, TX.
Published November 15, 2016 by Flatiron Books. 417 pages
Genres: Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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on Jul 27 2016

A spry study that should inspire listening with newly informed ears to old tunes, from “Bulldozer Blues” to “Teenager in Love” and beyond.

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