Origin and Definition of Rock and Roll?

Rock and Roll has been with us for well over 50 years. Lets “Rock” currently has all kinds of meanings. Who first used the term rock and roll and what is the difference between the word rock and the word roll?

Alan Freed coined the term as it’s used for music.


I believe the term rock and roll was a black slang for sex.

Good cite, Reeder ! This question has been addressed here before, maybe several months ago, but with my slow connection speed I’m not willing to do a search.

A few things were agreed upon in that earlier thread:
Sixty Minute Man is generally accepted as a good “starting place” for R & R music.

The term “Rock and Roll” was commonly used in at least some Black communities to describe the sex act.

Some posters thought that Sam Phillips and his SUN Record Company in Memphis played a huge part in the development of R&R. Others thought not.

Some thought that R&R developed from a mixture of Country, Rhythm And Blues, and Pop. Others claimed that the “R&B” music was the only “parent” of R & R.

Most were waiting for ellelle to chip in. It was agreed that ellelle knows more about early Rock ‘N’ Roll than God. Then the Great Crash of the SDMB came, and the issue rested. Until now.

There’s a thread over in MPSIMS in which it is casually stated that a publication(Billboard?) defines the practical start of Rock ‘N’ Roll as the entry of Elvis Presley’s * Heartbreak Hotel* into the top 40 chart.

But then Bill Haley, Carl Perkins, The Robins, Big Joe Turner, Fats Domino and many others were already at it in a big way prior to Elvis. Pick your poison, I guess.
Personally, I feel like Rock ‘N’ Roll came from a blending of Country, R&B, and Pop. Sixty Minute Man suits me as good as any for the “first” Rock ‘n’ Roll song. YMMV

Thanks Reeder and JC of M for your responses. Very satisfying.

I tried searching in advance and came up with nothing…not even close. What key words would you put to get the info? I put up Rock and Roll…Sixty Minute Man…and no help. Any suggestions?

I only disagree on “R&B”. I’ve alwayas thought of R&B as an offshoot of early rock & roll (notable artists are Stevie Wonder, James Brown, the Supremes, etc), not a parent. Blues is a parent of rock & roll, and very different from R&B (notable artists are Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson, etc).

As far as Rock being mainly a blending of C&W and Blues (Doo-Wop falls in there someplace, too, but I’m not sure where), I think you’re right on.

Joe_Cool , we’re saying the same thing here, but using a little different terminology.

Prior to the Rock ‘N’ Roll era, what you are calling “Blues”, was identified as R&B in the trade papers and on juke boxes. In those days, the music of Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, etc., was found listed as “Rhythm And Blues”. Definitely a “parent” of Rock ‘N’ Roll. But today that music is referred to as simply “Blues”.
To my ancient way of thinking, the Supremes and Stevie Wonder are Rock ‘N’ Roll all the way, as they came after the great “Mixing of the Waters”.

Soul music is also R&B and existed way before R&R. James Brown was certaintly popular before Elvis came on the scene.

And I second John Carter’s comment about Stevie and the Supremes, etc. The Motown sound was definitely more rock and roll than R&B, and nine times out of ten, you’ll hear such groups more frequently on oldies R&R radio stations than classic R&B stations.