From the moment Elvis Presley started swinging his hips, social critics targeted rock 'n' roll as a broad threat to American morals. Parents worried that Presley's style was a corrupting influence that would drive their children away from the wholesome ideals of 'the greatest generation.'
In Fever: How Rock 'n' Roll Transformed Gender in America, renowned music critic Tim Riley turns that line of thinking on its head. Riley argues that instead of being a negative influence, rock 'n' roll provided new role models for an entire generation of Americans—liberating men from rigid, macho straitjackets and encouraging women to express the full range of their desires.
Beginning with Elvis's break from the John Wayne mold, Riley traces the development of men and women who challenged the status quo while articulating a new code of behavior. Rock's code, Riley argues, allows men to explore their feelings more openly, while freeing women to let loose their lusty and aggressive impulses. Provocative and illuminating, Fever shows how rock stars from Tina Turner to Mick Jagger—and Lesley Gore to Bruce Springsteen—have taught men and women new ways to think about themselves, and about each other.