Who invented rock 'n roll? My friend says it was Elvis Presley. 

21 Answers

ms-mcgregor's profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Rock and roll was not "invented" by any one artist. It was a combination o the several people's influence in the 1950's. The primary roots of rock and roll can be traced to black rhythm and blues which was popular among black audiences, but white record stores and radio stations that catered to white audiences, would not play or sell the music. Two men, Sam Phillips of Sun Records in Memphis and Chicago DJ Alan Freed are probably most responsible for bringing black rhythm and blues to white audiences. Freed noticed the sales of a 'sanitized" version of "Shake, Rattle and Roll" by Bill Haley and the Comets. The song was then used in the 1955 movie "Blackboard Jungle"and became a tremendous hit. Freed dubbed the music "rock and roll", which was "two parts rhythm and blues, one part country and one part pure performance." Sam Phillips, who was based in Nashville, Tennessee, also noticed the strong attraction black rhythm and blues had on white audiences. He said all he needed was a "white boy who sounded black" to sell the music to whites. He found that boy in Elvis Presley. After Presley, many "rock and roll" singers became a success and helped push the sound to the top. Among them were Jerry Lee Louis, Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran. That opened the door to black artists like Chuck Berry, Chubby Checker and Otis Redding. By 1959, rock and roll had taken over the radio business, which was considered almost dead because of TV, and the rock and roll was big business.

ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

"Rock-and-Roll(räk'n roll') n. first so used (1951) by Alan Freed, Cleveland disc jockey, taken from the song "My Baby Rocks Me with a Steady Roll". The use of rock, roll, rock and roll, etc., with reference to sexual intercourse, is traditional in blues, a form of popular music that evolved in the 1950's from rhythm and blues, characterized by the use of electric guitars, a strong rhythm with an accent on the offbeat, and youth-oriented lyrics." Elvis Presley, while very instrumental in making rock and roll more widespread was not alone.  Sam Phillips who owned Sun Records, was in Memphis, TN.; not Nashville.  He also signed Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Rufus Thomas and numerous other significant artists. Although he first made his mark (and a very deep one) with electric blues by Black performers, he will be most remembered for his rockabilly stars, particularly Elvis Presley. At this same time we also had Buddy Holly who had his first official recording session in 1956. It was held in Nashville at producer Owen Bradley’s Barn Studio in Nashville, TN. Some might argue that the most influential name in the beginning of rock and roll was Bill Haley and the Comets.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

When we consider the "birth" of such movements as rock 'n' roll, we have to acknowledge that there was no sudden appearance of a fully-fledged and mature rock 'n' roll, rather it was a combination of many previous influences and movements. So, rather than looking for one name or group of people, you would do well to examine the context out of which rock 'n' roll arose and consider the various influences that led to it becoming such an influential movement.

User Comments

thewanderlust878's profile pic

thewanderlust878 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 3) Salutatorian

Posted on

I do not believe that rock n' roll was "created" by Elvis Presley. First off, while music is something you can "create" per say, it is near impossible to actually "create" a certain type of music, especially by yourself. That being said, Elvis Presley definitely revolutionized rock n' roll, and helped bring it to a point of popularity, but he did not create it. 

Hope this helps!

julie-rose's profile pic

julie-rose | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

No one actually created it. It started from musicians inspired by other musicians. Eventually it evolved into what we hear today. Most people think it came from Elvis Presley, but Elvis, too was inspired by someone.

coleenkelly's profile pic

coleenkelly | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Any discussion rock and roll should include the title of the first rock and roll record. Many of those posting here have mentioned Elvis Presley but no one mentions "Heartbreak Hotel." I belive that is because "Heartbreak Hotel" was recorded a full five years after the release of the first rock and roll record. And the name of that record was..."Rocket 88," by Jackie Brenston (1951). Interestingly this song was also recorded at Sun Records in Memphis.

inthekeyofc's profile pic

inthekeyofc | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Elvis Presley earned the title of "King of Rock and Roll" but, not because he invented it.

He sold more records at the time than other artists. The title, in the music world, was given based on record sales.

ladyvols1 (answer #3) is the correct answer to the question asked.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

The rock 'n' roll music form was not invented by any single person. It evolved over a period period from various trends in trends in music. It took the distinct form and name definitely before 1956 and definitely before release of first film of Elvis Presley in 1956 called "Love Me Tender" which was not a rock 'n' roll movie.

A movie called "Rock Around the Clock" featuring "Bill Haley and His Comets was perhaps the first rock 'n' roll movie, at least it was the fist popular movie featuring rock 'n' roll music. I saw this movie more than 40 years ago.

josephnscott's profile pic

josephnscott | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

The rock and roll sound was invented by R&B musicians during 1947-1949. To get a general idea of how the rock and roll sound came together, listen to these recordings in this order:

"Good Rockin' Tonight" Wynonie Harris

"Rock And Roll" Wild Bill Moore

"Rock The Joint" Chris Powell

Elvis acknowledged in an interview in Jet magazine that rock and roll was around long before his own recordings.

angelicaf's profile pic

angelicaf | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

some say its progression and some say its elvis presley ...  i  say its elvis ... long live the king of rock-n-roll :]


zoot96's profile pic

zoot96 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

I think it was just the natural progression of music, that had influences and was based on previous genres, especially blues.