An examination of what caused the “death” of Rock and Roll and how big business played a part in appropriating the rock and roll youth movement for commercial reasons.


As we have studied the early development of rock and roll and the labels and artists that brought the genre to great attention in the 1950s, we see that rock and roll suffered a huge decline after the death of Buddy Holly in 1959. Other events coincided with this: Little Richard converted to Christianity, Elvis joined the Army and Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry each had their fall from grace. Other popular styles began developing in the 1960’s to take rock and roll’s place: R&B was pushing toward soul, Motown was rising in Detroit, Phil Spector was making his pop records on the west coast, surf music was rising out of California and teen idols were created in the Brill Building of New York.

From your own perspective, answer these questions:

  • Why did the decline of rock and roll take place when the genre was so young and vibrant?
  • What was the appeal of each of the new styles of music mentioned above?
  • How did commercial interests have influence over these developments?
  • And finally: Has a similar commercial appropriation of a youth movement happened more recently, in your own experience?

When answering these questions, keep in mind the social climate of the 1950s, racial relations in the U.S., the civil rights movement and the role of commercial interests and the record industry in the development of the new popular music.

There are no right or wrong answers, your teammates and I are interested in your honest opinion. I am more concerned about content rather than length, but all of this should take up roughly one typed, double-spaced page, using a 12 pt font . Use your team’s discussion forum called “The Day the Music Died” to share your paper with your team members.

After all the students in your team (approximately 12 students) have posted their statements, read them. Then add at least one comment (can be as short as a sentence) about each team member’s statement in the discussion forum, “The Day the Music Died.”

I will read all of your statements and then craft my own statement with my reaction to what the students in the class have written and I will share this with all of you.


If you complete this assignment, you will receive 20 points: 10 points for your statement and 10 points for the comments you add to statements from the other students in your discussion group. I am interested in your honest opinion, so there are no “right or wrong” answers. I may take off points if your statement is too short (missing something), if your assignment is incomplete (ie. you fail to add at least one comment to each statement submitted by all the other members of your discussion group) or if there are grammatical and spelling problems. Do not submit a list. Your statement should be written in prose (sentences and paragraphs, etc.). See the course schedule for due dates for original posts and response posts and below for instructions about using the discussion board.

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