The Evolution of Rock and Roll


Sophia Randazzo

The Rolling Stones, a rock band from the 60s-80s, on their 2021-2022 tour.

Emily Unks, General, Opinons

Rock and roll. The phrase evokes images of carefree attitudes, influential fashion, and trashed hotel rooms. Where did it start, and where did it go?


Rock music emerged in the 1950’s taking the entire world by storm. By the 1960’s rock and roll was everywhere and everybody wanted to be The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, or The Who. This genre of music was a generational expression of rebellion and deep emotions in response to world issues that were going on at the time such as war, racism, and sexism. After the late 1990’s, being a popstar was more in fashion. Rock and roll has remained a dusty picture in the world’s photo album, one that is found every once in a while and brings back good memories.

Well it’s time to reframe that picture. In recent years, there has been a rebirth of rock music, and Greta Van Fleet is at the forefront of it. Greta Van Fleet is a new rock band that was formed in 2012 and signed to Lava Records in 2017, popular for their song “Light My Love”. Yes, we’ve had “rock bands” per say, but none that have been able to reinvigorate the sound of Led Zeppelin or The Velvet Underground. This refreshing oldish new rock is what is attracting young and old audiences. For the younger generation, it’s a chance to experience a form of the era that older generations rave about with starry eyes. And for older generations, it’s a chance to reminisce on those times and feel those sentiments of happiness, sadness, and anger that were all wrapped tightly into one song.

Without the older generation expressing vivid images of how they “saw the Steve Miller Band when they were first starting out” and where they were when they heard Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” for the first time, the kids today would have nothing to long for. After all, music is associated with a certain memory or feeling and that’s why we hold it so close to our hearts. The younger generation lives vicariously through those seemingly legendary times. Greta Van Fleet might be the chance for Gen Z to experience something illustrious. Now to say they embody the same exact sound that those artists from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s is a stretch, but they do show the gradual change of rock over time.

I recently saw Greta Van Fleet and Metallica perform, and let me tell you, there is a vast difference between the two. Metallica is very clearly heavy metal whereas Greta Van Fleet is hard rock/blues rock. Metallica has been in the game for a long time, and this is evident with their carefree presence and domination of the stage. Greta Van Fleet is charismatic but hasn’t quite nailed the whole domination of the stage thing yet. To see the two generations of artists perform on the same night for the shared love of rock music was moving because it shows the slow connection between multiple generations. Both bands were able to cast an unspoken appreciation between all people in the stadium, because all of us were there in the same place, for the love of music.

Greta Van Fleet has not yet been able to fill entire stadiums, but I have hope that they will get there. Rock and roll has gone from energetic rock, to classic rock, to hard rock, to grunge rock, and back to hard rock again. Just as the music of the past is resurging, so is the attitude and style. Bell bottoms, peasant blouses, thigh-high boots, and short skirts are all articles of clothing you can see the younger generation wearing today. Embracing the rock and roll attitude is understanding the mindset of transgression and mystery, along with beautiful lyrics masked by catchy melodies and rhythms. After seeing Greta Van Fleet and Metallica perform to a wide variety of people from age groups starting from 10 years old to 75 years old, I can say with the utmost confidence that the allure of rock and roll will never fade.