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“This is a great, fun book by Ward, a correspondent for NPR's All Things Considered and one of the founders of the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals (SXSW). Covering the period of 1920 to 1963, almost every chapter in the book is devoted to a single year and the songs that were recorded and/or released during that year. This is a broad overview that substitutes breadth for depth but doesn't spare the entertainment factor. Ward's sweeping survey reads like the 400-plus page liner notes for a 1,000-song box set and, as a music nerd, that is one of the best compliments I can give!”
— Joe Turner (E), Book People Bookstore, Austin, TX
Ed Ward covers the first half of the history of rock & roll in this sweeping and definitive narrative from the 1920s, when the music of rambling medicine shows mingled with the songs of vaudeville and minstrel acts to create the very early sounds of country and rhythm and blues, to the rise of the first independent record labels post-World War II, and concluding in December 1963, just as an immense change in the airwaves took hold and the Beatles prepared for their first American tour. The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1 shines a light on the far corners of the genre to reveal the stories behind the hugely influential artists who changed the musical landscape forever.
In this first volume of a two-part series, Ward shares his endless depth of knowledge and through engrossing storytelling hops seamlessly from Memphis to Chicago, Detroit, England, New York, and everywhere in between. He covers the trajectories of the big name acts like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Ray Charles, while also filling in gaps of knowledge and celebrating forgotten heroes such as the Burnette brothers, the 5 Royales, and Marion Keisker, Sam Phillips's assistant, who played an integral part in launching Elvis's career.
For all music lovers and rock & roll fans, Ward spins story after story of some of the most unforgettable and groundbreaking moments in rock history, introducing us along the way to the musicians, DJs, record executives, and producers who were at the forefront of the genre and had a hand in creating the music we all know and love today.