Rock & roll and television exploded on the scene at almost the same time in the late 1940s. At first, they sat at opposite ends of American culture. TV networks (there were only a handful, with less than 50,000 sets in homes) aimed for satisfying the most viewers; while rock & roll was loud, anti-establishment, rebellious, brash and, some would say, dangerous. In its early years, with little competition, it was easy for TV to ignore rock’s rise.
By 1952, there were 25+ million sets in homes, and networks were desperate for family programming. That meant teens, too. Teens not only had pocket money for advertisers to target, but they often controlled the dial. Youth culture and its penchant for rock & roll soon became too big for TV to ignore.
There were a few early television shows that cracked open the doors to the acceptance of rock & roll in mainstream America: The Ed Sullivan Show, American Bandstand and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. No matter where they lived, music fans could now see the performers, which changed how people discovered music. Viewers saw who was making the music, how they played, what they wore ... and that made rock even more exciting and accessible. Visually, it turned musicians into icons.
The "Stay Tuned: Rock on TV" exhibition explores how rock and television have grown together -- how video technology carried rock & roll to new heights and amplified artists’ self expression. And how together, they transformed television and made it more exciting than anyone could ever have imagined. The resources below will assist you in doing research in the areas of rock and popular music in television and television music programs.
Austin City Limits
The Big Beat
Ed Sullivan Show
The Defiant Ones / Dr. Dre on 1995
That Metal Show / Tony Iommi Helps Dispel Myth about Black Sabbath and Van Halen
Vinyl (HBO, 2017)
Shining Time Station (PBS; Ringo Starr as Mr. Conductor, 1989-1990)
Metalocalypse (Adult Swim; 2006-2013)
Soul Train / Love & Happiness / Al Green
The Old Grey Whistle Test / Psycho Killer / Talking Heads
American Bandstand / White Rabbit, Somebody to Love / Jefferson Airplane
Revolver / Them Heavy People / Kate Bush
Graffiti Rock 1984
Saturday Night Live / Radio Radio / Elvis Costello
Freaks and Geeks / Bad Reputation / Joan Jett
The Monkees / (Theme from) The Monkees / The Monkees
The Drew Carey Show / Cleveland Rocks / Presidents of the United States of America (cover version of the original by Ian Hunter)
Mad Men / A Beautiful Mine / RJD2
Living Single / Living Single / Queen Latifah
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air / Yo Home to Bel Air / DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
House / Teardrop / Massive Attack
King of the Hill / Yahoos and Triangles / The Refreshments
John from Cincinnati / Johnny Appleseed / Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros
Veronica Mars / We Used to Be Friends / Dandy Warhols
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum | Library and Archives
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