In its purest form, Rock and Roll has three chords, a strong, insistent back beat, and a catchy melody. Early rock & roll drew from a variety of sources, primarily blues, R&B, and country, but also gospel, traditional pop, jazz, and folk. All of these influences combined in a simple, blues-based song structure that was fast, danceable, and catchy.

The first wave of rock & rollers (Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley, Bill Haley, Gene Vincent, the Everly Brothers, and Carl Perkins, among many others) set the template for rock & roll that was followed over the next four decades.
During each decade, a number of artists replicated the sound of the first rockers, while some expanded that definition and others completely exploded the constrictions of the genre. From the British Invasion, folk-rock, and psychedelia, and through hard rock, heavy metal, glam rock, and punk, most subgenres of rock & roll initially demonstrated an allegiance to the basic structure of rock & roll. Once these permutations emerged, traditional rock & roll faded away from the pop charts, yet there were always artists that kept the flame alive. Some, like the Rolling Stones and the Faces, adhered to the basic rules of traditional rock & roll but played the music fast and loose. Others, like proto-punk rockers the Velvet Underground, the New York Dolls and the Stooges, kept the basic song structure, but played it with more menace. Still others, like Dave Edmunds and Graham Parker, became rock & roll traditionalists, writing and recording music that never wavered from the sound of the late '50s and early '60s.

Although the term "rock & roll" came to refer to a number of different music styles in the decades following its inception, the essential form of the music never changed.

Published before on Placed with permission.

Not just a kind of music. Rock and Roll is also an adjective and an adverb.

as an adjective
Iggy, those are some rock and roll shoes you’ve got on!” (Iggy’s shoes are kick-ass).

as an adverb
Iggy, are we going to the party?”
Rock and roll!” (yes)

NOTE: It’s said more like “rockenroll” than “rock . . . and . . . roll.”
A vertskateboarding trick. This trick is a stall. It is the basic stall that must be learnt for the 180 Rock and Roll and the Disaster.

Once you reach the vert start leaning forward but put your foot on the tail. If you can vert ollie, do so, if you can't then once you reach the coping lean forward while "manualing" (if you did a vert ollie then bend your knees to weigh you down). You should now be in a boardslide position, but shouldn't be sliding. Once you want to stop stalling put your weight on your tail. Once you start rolling down immediately take your foot of the tail and lean forward. You are now riding switch.

Slang, US Mil, adjective

The term generally refers to switching a selective fire weapon over to fully automatic fire.

The old M-16A1, the US military's Main Battle Rifle for the last 30 years or so (now replaced by the M-16A2), is what the pro's refer to as a selective fire weapon. Most small arms only have one mode of fire - bolt action rifles and pump shotguns cycle manually. Semiautomatic pistols fire one round for every pull of the trigger. The M-16A1, being a selective fire weapon has what is predictably called a "selector lever". On the 16, if this level is set to "Semi", the auto sear is disengaged from the action, and the weapon cycles one round per pull of the trigger. With the selector flipped to "Auto" the auto sear is engaged, cutting the disconnector out of the action, and your M-16 will now cycle until the magazine runs dry, just like a machine gun. This is where the rock and roll comes in.

In the Vietnam War US soldiers were issued these wonder weapons. In a fire team, only one man, usually senior, was supposed to be an "Automatic Rifleman", that is to say, have his rifle set to "auto." Everybody else was supposed to be a "Rifleman" - rifle set to "semi" and cranking out sustained aimed fire.

In wars past, like WW II the Korean War, these riflemen would have been issued a MBR like the M1 Garand, a weapon only capable of producing semi-auto fire. In sunny Vietnam, military planners soon learned a new rule of infantry combat: without superior training and rigidly enforced fire discipline, soldiers in combat will fire their weapons at the highest available ROF (rate of fire). So it was not uncommon to hear people screaming in a firefight "Rock and Roll, rock and roll!" Meaning, "everyone flip your rifles over to full-auto!" This could go a long way towards explaining why over 50,000 rounds of ammunition were fired for every confirmed kill in Vietnam, and why the new M-16A2 no longer features full-auto fire. It instead has a mode called "Burst", with fires bursts of 3 rounds with each pull of the trigger. It's a mechanical enforcement of good fire discipline. Like the Cadre in ROTC used to teach us, "Aimed fire wins battles".

"Rock and roll" is also a great example of how an age and it's technology create slang. If selective fire assault rifles had been available in the American Civil War, they everyone might have been screaming "Gin it up!" or "Dance with the Devil's Fiddler, Boys!"

"Rock and Roll" by Lou Reed
The Velvet Underground: Loaded, 1970.

Jenny said when she was just five years old
"You know there's nothing happening at all."
Every time she puts on the radio
There was nothing goin' down at all
Then one fine mornin' she puts on a New York station
She couldn't believe what she heard at all
She started dancin' to that fine fine music
You know her life was saved by Rock 'n' Roll

Despite all the amputations
You could just dance to a rock 'n' roll station

Jenny said when she was just five years old
"My parents are gonna be the death of us all
Two TV sets and two Cadillac cars--
It ain't gonna help us at all."
Then one fine mornin' she puts on a New York station
She don't believe what she heard at all
She started dancin' to that fine fine music
You know her life was saved by Rock 'n' Roll

Despite all the computations
You could just dance to a rock 'n ' roll station
and baby, it was alright.

I got my first, personal radio when I was about five. My dad was crazy enough to trust me with that piece of electronica, and little did he know what was being unleashed.

Rock and Roll was my salvation. When I lost my dad, there was rock and roll. When I lost faith in God, there was rock and roll. When my boyfriend left me, there was rock and roll. On those lonely nights in high school, where everyone else was at parties or getting laid or getting stoned, I was listening to The Replacements, Husker Du, R.E.M., Nirvana, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Pixies, Dead Kennedys, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash (who IS rock and roll), David Bowie, Janis Joplin, Pattie Smith, Joan Jett, the Clash, The Stooges... and the list goes on, growing, filled like the ocean.

So why? What is it about this one little genre of music? Is it the beat? The sound of an electric guitar? The power of a voice? The songs? The songs vary from incredible lyrical complexity to almost-ridiculous simplicity. What is it? The outlaw nature? The experimentation? The implications of sex? Drugs? Mind expansion? Revolution?

Fuck that.

Real rock and roll says "yes--you can do this too." Or at least, "yes--there are others like you." Rock and roll simply says "this is life--get off your ass and live it." Don't be boring. Don't settle. Be it. And if you fail, what the hell--turn on the radio, and there's someone saying we understand failure, too.

Rock and roll--a term once meaning sex--is life.

There are millions of us, lyin' in bed, with the headphones on, tuning the radio, searching the airwaves, hoping to hear transcendence. 'Cause you know what baby? It's alright.

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