The early forms of rock 'n' roll ushered in new ways of both performing and dancing. Artists like Bill Haley and the Comets adapted the work of many earlier black artists to come up with their sound. Rock 'n' roll bands like Haley's used instruments such as bass, acoustic and electric guitars, drums, piano and saxophone. The music's solid rhythm and heavy back beat inspired new forms of dancing that exist to this day. Though quite precious in retrospect, the lyrics were often defiant in nature and shockingly energetic when judged by the "Tin Pan Alley" standards of the day.
Soon there were stars - Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and
Carl Perkins. Chuck Berry established the ground rules. Lewis and Perkins contributed a country and
western feel with Little Richard topping it all off in a dynamo of showmanship. But it took a truck
driver from Tupelo Mississippi by the name of Elvis Presley to put all these styles together in a
way that would change popular music for all time. Elvis possessed an incredible two and one-half
octave voice that could communicate any rock 'n' roll style to near perfection. Weather it was a
slow gospel ballad or a screaming rocker, Presley connected with his material -- and with his
audience. Rock 'n' roll now had a "king". The Elvis hit-record era encompassed 1956-1963. During
this period the recording companies, buoyed by growth and financial gains, attempted to remove the
original raw, blues derived sentiments of the music. Their executives were convinced that the whole
Rock 'n' Roll bit was just a fad and proceeded to engineer new "sanitized" acts in the hope of
sustaining the windfall. By the end of the fifties many schlocky, sentimental songs designed in
record company boardrooms were being marketed as "rock 'n' roll". Dissatisfied with this, many
serious fans started paying attention to other music forms (such as folk) and soon found themselves
quite detached from the era's rock 'n' roll mainstream.