Book details

The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1


The History of Rock & Roll (Volume 1)

Author: Ed Ward

The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1

The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1


About This Book

An Epic Journey through the Golden Era of Rock & Roll

Embark on a thrilling musical voyage with The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1. The book traces...

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Book Details

An Epic Journey through the Golden Era of Rock & Roll

Embark on a thrilling musical voyage with The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1. The book traces the evolution of rock and roll from its humble origins in the 1920s, culminating in the seismic shift ushered in by the Beatles in the 1960s. This rollercoaster ride through the decades invites you to tap your feet to the music of vaudeville and minstrel acts, rhythm and blues, and the unmistakable sounds that defined post-World War II America.

Our guide through this iconic era is none other than celebrated writer Ed Ward. With his definitive narrative style enriched by a profound knowledge of music, Ward spotlights lesser-known heroes and big-name legends alike. Uncover the fascinating stories of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Ray Charles. Delve into the unsung tales of pioneers such as the Burnette brothers, the “5” Royales, and Marion Keisker.

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 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.

Imprint Publisher

Flatiron Books



In The News

"Ward's writing is deeply researched, but conversational in tone. He nerds-out just the right amount, moving briskly from hit to hit and craze to craze, slowing down only to impart a few choice anecdotes... [his] faithful documentation of the genre’s more obscure corners helps to point out that, early on, rock was weird... Ward underscores the vital point that rock was a music invented by people who knew better, but just couldn’t help it." —The Washington Post

"Ward tackles this imposing topic with the same cerebral but conversational style he uses on NPR's Fresh Air, where he's been resident rock historian since 1986. Like his radio segments, the book excels at balancing the essential with the arcane... Ward's vivid anecdotes make the book more fun to read than 98 percent of tomes with 'history' in their title." —Dallas Morning News

“Ward doesn’t put in or leave out too much, and his geographical shifts are well-timed… He’s especially skilled at describing music that isn’t rock & roll in order to provide context to music that is.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Ward knows the art of presentation. He blends storytelling with a vibrant, organic chronicle of [rock's] birth, incorporating 20th-century American history and popular culture. Scrupulously avoiding the dry, tedious academic pontification favored by some rock critics, Mr. Ward... offers compelling mini-portraits of artists and music business types.... A book like this is indispensable. Mr. Ward’s warm, welcoming voice allows him to both inform and entertain." —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The History of Rock & Roll still feels like a whirlwind tour [and] makes you wish you had a playlist with every single song mentioned … Don't try to read this book while you're sitting next to someone trying to get some work done… you'll keep wanting to interrupt them to share an amazing thing you've just discovered about rock and roll history.” —Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current, Rock and Roll Book Club

"The vast scope of the subject acts as a gateway to deeper musical investigation." —Toronto Star

"[Ward's] writing sings... [his] history presents rock 'n' roll as a cultural force of nature." Winnipeg Free Press

The History of Rock & Roll is not a simple deep dig. It is a figurative excavation of the long and storied history behind the beginnings of music’s most celebrated genre… Ward leaves nary a corner unexplored… With a book this informational, there’s no doubt that music nerds will enjoy the nice, long swim.” —Creative Loafing Tampa

"A dean of rock journalism delivers the first volume of a magnum opus on a subject that never ceases to fascinate...turning up plenty of surprises and fresh insights.... A spry study that should inspire listening with new, and newly informed, ears to old tunes." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"An excellent introduction to early rock’s cast of characters and the music that rocked the world… Ward’s delightful book is chock-full of everything there is to know about the history of rock." —Publishers Weekly

"Ward's ambitious opus succeeds in chronicling the first half of the history of rock & roll.... Ward manages to make a coherent narrative—not an insignificant feat—out of this sprawling milieu." —Booklist

“Even for the uninitiated, what makes this history so enlightening and entertaining is the background detail that musicologist, journalist, and NPR rock historian Ward brings to the party. In a colloquial, conversational voice, he recounts stories of rock's roots and branches… Ward knows his rock & roll, and this comprehensive history is as entertaining as it is informative.” —Shelf Awareness

"Just what you'd expect from Fresh Air's rock & roll historian: a thorough, detailed survey of the moments that define rock & roll." —No Depression

"Expansive, deeply researched without being pedantic, Ed Ward tells the story of rock and roll as it unfolded in all its glory. A book not only for the cognoscenti but the casual devotee who would like a moment-by-moment timeline of how the music evolved, transcended, and became a force unto itself. A definitive text." Lenny Kaye, guitarist, producer of Nuggets, and author of You Call It Madness

"Ed Ward tells the complex, unruly history of rock and roll like few other writers can. He deftly separates sacred myths from the often brutal realities while connecting the various styles, races, cities and scenes into a coherent national saga. Mr. Ward writes with rare wisdom, insight and humor but most of all, a passionate love for this still powerful music." —Dave Alvin, Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter and cofounder with his brother Phil of the Blasters

About the Creators

The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1

The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1