MUS 507A

Rock Artists by Decade of Initial Prominence

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Many rock artists or groups have spanned many decades.  The listings below (which are not at all inclusive) attempt to categorize artists/groups by the decade of initial prominence.  Some listings, while not rock themselves, are included because of their influences on rock music in some way--and some predate the 1950s.


  • Pop Artists:  Nat "King" Cole, Eddie Fisher, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Patti Page, Kay Starr, Doris Day, Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney

  • Country & Western Artists:  Gene Autry, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Tex Ritter, Hank Williams Sr.

  • Rhythm & Blues Artists:  Bessie Smith, "Howlin' Wolf (Chester Burnett), "Muddy Waters" (McKinley Morganfield), Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, B. B. King, Ray Charles

  • Bill Haley and the Comets

  • Rockabilly Artists:  The Everly Brothers (Phil & Don), Ricky Nelson

  • Soft Rock Artists/Teen Idols:  Fabian, Tommy Sands, Paul Anka, Bobby Darin, Frankie Avalon, Johnny Mathis

  • Pat Boone

  • Elvis Presley

  • Little Richard

  • Fats Domino

  • Chuck Berry

  • Jerry Lee Lewis

  • Buddy Holly


  • Folk Trend:  The Kingston Trio; Peter, Paul, and Mary; 

  • Surfing Music:  Jan and Dean, The Beach Boys

  • Dance Craze:  Chubby Checker

  • The Beatles

  • The Rolling Stones

  • Other British Invaders:  Dave Clark Five, Searchers, Peter and Gordon, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Freddie and the Dreamers, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Herman's Hermits, Hollies; The Yardbirds, Animals, Mandred Mann, Kinks, Zombies, Troggs

  • Bob Dylan

  • The Byrds

  • Folk Rockers:  Bob Dylan, The Byrds, The Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Sonny and Cher, Buffalo Springfield, Donavan

  • Soul:  Aretha Franklin, James Brown

  • Motown:  Smokey Robinson, The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, Holland-Dozier-Holland, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes

  • San Francisco/Acid Rock:  The Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin

  • Acid Rock outside San Francisco:  Jim Morrison and The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience

  • Jazz Rock:  The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Blues Project; Blood, Sweat and Tears (late '60s), Chicago (late '60s), Chase

  • Art Rock:  The Moody Blues, Deep Purple, Procol Harum, The Who, Rick Wakeman and Yes, Genesis; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; Frank Zappa


  • British Heavy Metal:  Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osbourne

  • Glitter Rock:  David Bowie

  • Punk Rock:  The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Elvis Costello

  • British Mainstream:  Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Peter Frampton

  • U.S. Mainstream:  Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), The Doobie Brothers, Steve Miller, Journey

  • Southern Rock:  The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kansas

  • U.S. Heavy Metal:  Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly, Steppenwolf, MC5, Grand Funk Railroad, Alice Cooper, Kiss

  • U.S. Punk mini-movement:  The Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, The Talking Heads

  • Art Rock:  Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)

  • Jazz Rock/Fusion:  John McLaughlin, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Santana, Jeff Beck

  • Singer/Song Writers:  Joni Mitchell, Carole King, James Taylor, Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, Billy Joel

  • Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

  • Reggae:  Bob Marley

  • Black Rock:  Sly and the Family Stone; Earth, Wind and Fire; Tower of Power; Gladys Knight and the Pips, Michael Jackson, The Commodores

  • Disco:  Donna Summer, The Bee Gees, 

  • Country Rock:  The Eagles, The Charlie Daniels and Marshall Tucker Bands, Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Glen Campbell, Kenny Rogers

  • Soft Rock:  The Carpenters, Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John


  • Michael Jackson

  • Bruce Springsteen

  • Madonna

  • U2

  • Guns N' Roses

  • Heavy Metal:  Van Halen, Queensr˙che, Metallica, Yngwie Malmsteen

  • Rap:  Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, L. L. Cool J., Public Enemy, N.W.A., M. C. Hammer, Vanilla Ice

  • Prince

  • Lionel Richie

  • Huey Lewis and the News

  • Soft Rock:  Boy George, New Kids on the Block

  • Female Stars:  Tina Turner, Blondie, Cyndy Lauper, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Paula Abdul


  • Eric Clapton

  • Dance Music:  Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync

  • Women in Rock:  Britney Spears, The Spice Girls, Christina Aguilera, Shania Twain, Mariah Carey

  • Rap:  Ice-T, N.W.A., Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, The Wu-Tang Clan, Eminem, Salt-n-Pepa

  • New Jack Swing (rap hybrid):  Guy, Blackstreet, Keith Sweat

  • Latin:  Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Gloria Estefan, Selena


  • Post-Punk Hardcore:  X, Black Flag

  • Thrash Metal:  Megadeth, Slayer

  • Grunge:  Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Soul Asylum

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