The following are brief summaries of lectures presented on musical acts from the 50s.

THE SIXTIES: UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE FIFTIES

 

Chuck Berry:  Hail Hail Rock n’ Roll

Without Chuck Berry we would not have rock n roll as we know it - he was the greatest rock writer, one of the greatest guitarist and one of its greatest performers of all time.  Elvis was the spark for that fueled rock n roll but Chuck Berry became its heartbeat.  We will travel with Chuck from his early days in St. Louis to his extraordinary recordings at Chess Records to his off-stage exploits with the law and finally to his induction into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

John Lennon said it best “If you were going to give rock n’ roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.”

 

Another Date with The Everly Brothers

The Everly Brothers were one of the most important early rock and roll stars and are among the most influential rockers of any era.  They stand alone as the greatest two-part harmony rock group that combined the best elements of country and pop music.  We will journey with Phil and Don from their early days on their family radio show to their classic hits In the 50’s and 60’s into the touring years to their breakup and to their subsequent celebrated reunion.  The Everly Brothers were among the first 10 artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Rick Nelson: Teenage Idol

Rick Nelson was one of the very biggest of the 50’s teen idols, he was a rockabilly pioneer and crafted some of finest pop/rock recordings of his era.  Being featured on America’s favorite family situation comedies on a weekly basis enable Rick to sing his songs and reach out and introduce rock n’ roll to mainstream America.  We will journey with Rick from his top ten hits to the formation of one of the earliest country-rock groups, the Stone Canyon Band.  Nelson was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

The Sun Records Story

This is where rock n’ roll was born - the independent record company founded by  producer Sam Phillips that launched the careers of  Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins.  We will travel with Phillips through his early days with his Memphis Recording Service recording African-American musicians including B. B. King, Howlin’ Wolf and Ike Turner.  From “Good Rockin’ Tonight” (Elvis) to “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” (Jerry Lee Lewis), the music created at Sun Studio helped lay part of the foundation of the late 20th century rock and roll and influenced many musicians including The Beatles.

Elvis & The Beatles

This lecture will survey the extraordinary careers of Elvis and The Beatles and how they influenced each other and changed popular music forever.  We will journey with Elvis from his early Sun Record singles to his domination of the music charts into his successful film career to his comeback TV special and finally to his Las Vegas performances.  With The Beatles we will travel with them from Liverpool to Hamburg as a cover band, into the excitement of Beatlemania, through their ground breaking recordings and into their solo careers.  

The Brill Building

The Brill Building is located at 1619 Broadway in New York City along with other neighborhood buildings that housed many composers and publishers in the late 50’s and 60’s and whose recordings have become known as the Brill Building Sound.  We will explore the many songwriters (including Burt Bacharach, Carole King, Neil Sedaka) who are responsible for creating the extraordinary soundtrack not only defined an era but whose influence endures five decades later. 

 

The Blues

This lecture will survey the beginning of “electric blues” starting with the early guitar pioneers T-Bone Walker, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters to the 60’s guitar heroes Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page.  In addition, we will explore the regional styles from Chicago to Memphis to London and the inception of the British Blues counterpart establishing blues rock (i.e. The Rolling Stones) thus widening the appeal of the blues to white American audiences.

“Red, white, black, brown or yellow, rich or poor, we all have the blues!” - B. B. King

Rock and Roll Pioneers

This lecture will survey the artists that laid down the foundation that established the roots of rock n’ roll.  From early guitar heroes (Les Paul, Duane Eddy) to the rhythm and blues piano giants (Little Richard, Ray Charles) to soul music singer/composers (James Brown, Sam Cooke) and the early rockers (Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent).  Their influence on the 60’s was enormous and included The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jeff Beck and many others.

50s Beat Generation Literature and the 60s Music

This presentation will focus on the historical, social and political culture of the 50s and 60s as defined through literature and music.  The period represents an era of creativity and experimentation that manifested in new literary and musical forms.  We will explore the inter-relationships of Beat writers (Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs) and 60s rock icons (i.e. Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Doors) and their impact and influence on the counter-culture movement of the sixties. 

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