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On the Road: 4-8/9-12 The Big Bang! The Birth of Rock and Roll



The Big Bang! The Birth of Rock and Roll

Suggested Grade Level: 4-8/9-12

This research guide serves as a resource for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Education Department course, The Big Bang! The Birth of Rock and Roll. For additional information on the course and for more teacher resources, see:

In the early 1950s, a new form of music exploded onto the scene, exciting the growing teenage audience while startling many others who preferred the music of Bing Crosby and Patti Page. Popularized by disc jockey Alan Freed in 1951, the term “rock and roll” came to be used to describe a new form of music, steeped in the blues, rhythm and blues, country and gospel. Teenagers fell in love with this new sound, listening to it on transistor radios and buying it in record stores. Many parents believed that this music was simply noise that had a negative influence on impressionable teens. No matter your position, it became clear that rock and roll was here to stay, bringing with it important changes. Teenagers often rejected the values associated with their parents’ generation and white and black audiences broke down racial barriers as they sought out the latest rock and roll artists. This class will examine the importance of geography, race, technology, and teen culture in shaping rock and roll music. Students will learn about the changes that took place in this remarkable era as they watch and listen to vintage performances by Hall of Fame Inductees such as Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Little Richard.

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Search Tips

Our catalog has a subject category for "Inductee." If you enter this term in the search box and choose "Subject" in the dropdown box, you will retrieve information on our resources that are related to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees.

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For Your Students

Online Resources


These resources, pulled from class discussion and selected from the Library and Archives' collections, will help you to:

  • Evaluate the significance of the birth of rock and roll in 1950s America.
  • Identify key musicians that helped shape the sounds and style of early rock and roll.
  • Give examples of how the birth of rock and roll influenced and was influenced by technology, teen culture, race, and geography.




Archival Resources

New to Archives? Check out:

YouTube Videos

Elvis Presley, "Hound Dog," live on the Milton Berle Show, 1956

Jerry Lee Lewis, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," 1957

Chuck Berry, "Johnny B. Goode," The T.A.M.I. Show

Little Richard, "Long Tall Sally" / "Tutti Frutti"
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum | Library and Archives
2809 Woodland Avenue | Cleveland, OH 44115 | 216.515.1956 |