Rock 'n' roll gained popularity in the 1950s due in large part to the development of the electric guitar, jukebox, television, and the 45 RPM record. Key figures such as Alan Freed, Sam Phillips, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, and others all took advantage of this technology to draw audiences and musicians alike to participate in the birth of a new era. Like nearly all American music, rock 'n' roll grew out of the black experience, yet its most popular artist was undoubtedly Elvis Presley, who was a white kid from Tupelo, Mississippi, but sang like a black R & B singer.
Sam Phillips's record label, Sun Records, had a major impact on the rise of rock 'n' roll by signing Presley and assembling what would later be known as the Million Dollar Quartet, featuring Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Presley himself. Early rock 'n' roll contained elements of country and western, blues, gospel, R & B, and jump swing, but it soon matured into its own distinct sound and gave rise to such icons as Jimi Hefidrix, the Who tilt Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and, of course, the Beatles. Rock was dealt a harsh blow when rap music, another black-rooted art form, topped it in CD sales in the 1990s, but it continues to thrive and have an enormous impact on popular culture. It is doubtful that rock will ever cease to be played. Rock 'n' roll made its crossover to white audiences when Elvis recorded "That's All Right, Mama" in 1954, though he wouldn't earn a number one hit until 1956 with "Heartbreak Hotel." In 1964, with the arrival of the Beatles on American shores, rock music firmly embedded itself into the collective consciousness of popular culture and hasn't left since.
Drums and drummers contributed greatly to the evolution of rock. In the 1960s, the rock-drumming boom occurred quite literally. This was due in part to rock's enormous popularity, which led to stadium shows and high-volume performances. Outdoor festivals hosted tens of thousands of rock enthusiasts. The Monterrey Pop Festival in 1967 drew 200,000 fans over a three-day period and Woodstock in 1969 drew some 500,000 devotees.
In the 1970s, rock drummers experimented more with accessories in their setups. Some went so far as to include gongs, tympani, chimes, bells, bongos, and other percussion instruments. Neil Peart was probably the most extravagant in his setup, but others such as John Bonham, Carl Palmer, Ian Paice, and Nick Mason experimented with augmented kits as well. As the 1980s dawned, a new style of drumming emerged that, oddly enough, combined Jamaican reggae with punk. This was almost single- handedly accomplished by Stewart Copeland, with Manu Katche to follow in 1986 with a style that borrowed from Copeland's strange but effective stylistic blend. Also in the '80s, Bill Bruford and Jerry Marotta experimented with drum sets that did not contain any cymbals.
Other drummers in this period, such as Alex Van Halen, kept increasing the size of their drum set. His boasted four bass drums! In the early 1990s, many drummers moved to a scaled-down four piece drum kit, hocking their splash cymbals and their double bass drums for deep tom-toms, extra-thick crash cymbals, and double bass pedals. This was influenced by the Seattle grunge movement and drummer Dave Grohl. By the mid '90s, rock drummers seemed to take a backseat to electronic media as drum machines and computer-driven music dominated much of the airwaves. However, drummers responded by not only continuing to give strong performances, but by becoming adept programmers as well.
Larry Mullen, Phil Selway, Zachary Alford, and others created great synthesized rhythms through the use of drum machines, and so on. Today, drummers still have an enormous influence on rock music. Popular drummers such as Carter Beauford, Mike Portnoy, Neil Primrose, Matt Cameron, and others continue to maintain high professional standards.
Eric recommends using Akai Drum Machine along with Rolands Drum Module for any electronic drum setup configuration, Eric is also an active member of Drum Forum at Drum Solo Artist where he is answering drum related questions, and helping drummers with tips and advices.