So who were the first successful AMERICAN rock band?

I was talking the history of early rock bands with a 13 year old who asked why the first bands were all British. I explained that rhythm & blues music was essential to the development of the genre. most R&B bands were “colored” and at the time no white station and no white venue would allow them to play. So a lot of them tourred Britian, which was more accepting of their music.

When she recovered fom her shock, she asked me the OP question. And I did not have a clue what to answer her.

I’m talking ROCK here, not rock and roll.

Paul Revere and the Raiders, maybe?

It kind of depends on what you mean by “rock” and “successful”, but it is an interesting question…

White stations* did* play black music; Motown, at least, if not Howlin’ Wolf. You had to go down the dial to KCOH to hear the harder stuff–but KILT played Sam & Dave and Joe Tex. Even in segregation days, Houston’s culture was hardly lily white.

(I don’t get the difference between “rock” & rock & roll.)

But I’d have to say The Beach Boys.

Your OP suggests rock and roll until you get to your last line.

Bill Haley and the Comets would be my first knee jerk response, but I don’t think that’s what you want.

How do you define Rock as separate from Rock and Roll? I have a distinction in my own mind, but no British invasion band qualifies.

Missed the edit:

Edit: The Lovin’ Spoonful maybe? Again, it sort of depends on how you define things. They were popular right on the heals of (at the same time as) the British invasion and were decidedly American, and I guess I would call them Rock not Rock & Roll.

The Byrds were around at about the same time but I don’t know if they count as Rock or not.

First, come up with a working definition of “rock band” in this context.

My answer, though many wouldn’t call them a rock band, is The Carter Family. As far as I’m concerned, not only were they a band that rocked, it is my contention that rock guitar was invented by Maybelle Carter.

ETA: The above statements are 100% serious, in case there’s any doubt.

You’re going to have to define your terms her. I would say “Bill Haley and the Comets,” but I suspect that’s rock and roll to you. Is Chuck Berry “rock” enough (or is he not “band” enough)? On the other hand, if that’s “rock and roll” to you, then I’d think all the early British Invasion stuff definitely qualifies as “rock and roll”, as well, especially since it came out of initially recreating the sounds of these sorts of musical acts.

Buddy Holly and the Crickets?

Maybe Dick Dale if Surf Rock qualifies. That predates the British invasion but was a clear departure from “Rock and Roll”. Again, I wouldn’t call it Rock, it’s closer to Jazz than rock, but it was *highly *influential in its own way, if only for the Beach Boys (though definitely not just for the Beach Boys.)

The Paleo-Indians?

The Ventures might be more the sort of think you’re looking for, or is instrumental rock not “rock”?

I know it’s hard to define “rock,” but I don’t think anyone considers the Beatles rock and roll. So who were the most successful American band that achieved fame right after the Beatles?

It’s a lot tougher question than it appears, and I wonder if anyone has answered it.

Well, I would say that the Beatles early stuff was Rock and Roll. I Saw Her Standing There is a direct descendant of Bill Haley, but if the above quote is your criteria, I think my earlier answer of The Lovin’ Spoonfull or The Byrds is the correct answer.

That would have been my choice.

Provided that:

  1. The ‘rock’ vs ‘rock and roll’ thing is explained.

  2. The fact that many of the pioneers such as Elvis, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins et al. are more solo performers than ‘bands’. Even though most of them played with the same group of guys and it was just branding that separated them from being perceived as a ‘band’.


I know, I fixed it in edit. :smack: Got it right in the first post.

The Byrds?

When you say “the first bands were all British”, which bands do you have in mind?

Early Beatles I would definitely consider rock and roll–or at least a Britted-up version of rock and roll.

Anyhow, for contemporaneous American rock during the Beatles, I think the Byrds is, indeed, a good suggestion.

Well, you are the one who wants us to distinguish between “rock” & “rock & roll.” So it’s up to you to define it for us.

The Beatles did start out as rock & roll.

Do you have the answer to this “tough” question? What are your opinions of the names mentioned so far? The Beach Boys preceded the Beatles, although their popularity continued; they did do some “arty” stuff. Is that Rock? The Byrds were, indeed, very big; category-fans might call them “folk rock.”

Do we get a prize or are you just interested in a time far before your birth?