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Rock & Roll in Kennedy's America

A Cultural History of the Early 1960s

Richard Aquila

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A rousing, poignant look at the cultural history of rock & roll during the early 1960s.

In the early 1960s, the nation was on track to fulfill its destiny in what was being called "the American Century." Baby boomers and rock & roll shared the country's optimism and energy. For "one brief, shining moment" in the early 1960s, both President John F. Kennedy and young people across the country were riding high. The dream of a New Frontier would soon give way, however, to a new reality involving assassinations, the Vietnam War, Cold War crises, the civil rights movement, a new feminist movement…

A rousing, poignant look at the cultural history of rock & roll during the early 1960s.

In the early 1960s, the nation was on track to fulfill its destiny in what was being called "the American Century." Baby boomers and rock & roll shared the country's optimism and energy. For "one brief, shining moment" in the early 1960s, both President John F. Kennedy and young people across the country were riding high. The dream of a New Frontier would soon give way, however, to a new reality involving assassinations, the Vietnam War, Cold War crises, the civil rights movement, a new feminist movement, and various culture wars.

From the former host of NPR's Rock & Roll America, Richard Aquila's Rock & Roll in Kennedy's America offers an in-depth look at early 1960s rock & roll, as well as an unconventional history of Kennedy's America through the lens of popular music. Based on extensive research and exclusive interviews with Dion, Bo Diddley, Brenda Lee, Martha Reeves, Pete Seeger, Bob Gaudio, Dick Clark, and other legendary figures, the book rejects the myth that Buddy Holly's death in 1959 was "the day the music died." It proves that rock & roll during the early 1960s was vibrant and in tune with the history and events of this colorful era. These interviews and Aquila's research reveal unique insights and new details about politics, gender, race, ethnicity, youth culture, and everyday life. Rock & Roll in Kennedy's America recalls an important chapter in rock & roll and American history.

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Rock & Roll in Kennedy's America

Richard Aquila

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Reviews

[Aquila] presents to readers what he contends is the vibrant, innovative, and contextually assorted music scene during the time span of 1959 to 1964.Readers will be delighted by the knowledgeable Aquila's survey of a period not completely covered by his earlier works.

Rock & Roll in Kennedy's America seeks to rectify the long-held belief that rock & roll in the early years of the 1960s has little to tell us about that time period. Aquila presents a recounting of the hits and the bands that made them from 1959 until the Beatles emerged in 1964. He succeeds in outlining the popularity and continuation of rock's appeal to America's young people.

Aquila takes his readers into the shadowy musical period between the Elvis revolution and the British Invasion and brilliantly uses underappreciated musicians—many of whom he interviewed—and music to illustrate the social and cultural history of the Kennedy era. This history rocks—turn it up!

Aquila takes his readers into the shadowy musical period between the Elvis revolution and the British Invasion and brilliantly uses underappreciated musicians—many of whom he interviewed—and music to illustrate the social and cultural history of the Kennedy era. This history rocks—turn it up!

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
416
ISBN
9781421444987
Illustration Description
20 b&w photos
Table of Contents

Introduction: Only in America
Part I. New Directions for Early 60s Rock & Roll
Chapter 1. "It's Now or Never": Rock & Roll Enters a New Decade
Chapter 2. "What Does a Girl Do?" The Girl Group

Introduction: Only in America
Part I. New Directions for Early 60s Rock & Roll
Chapter 1. "It's Now or Never": Rock & Roll Enters a New Decade
Chapter 2. "What Does a Girl Do?" The Girl Group Revolution of the Early 60s
Chapter 3. "Heat Wave": Motown's Hot Sounds for Young America
Chapter 4. "Surfin' Safari": Surf Music, Car Songs, and the Mythic West
Part II. Old Styles Rock On
Chapter 5. "On Broadway": R&B Rock Takes Center Stage
Chapter 6. "Let's Have a Party!": Rockin' the Country
Chapter 7. "A Teenager in Love": Veteran Pop Rockers in the Early 60s
Chapter 8. "Take Good Care of My Baby": Pop Rock's Second Wave
Chapter 9. "Wild Weekend": Top Tunes, News, and Weather
Part III. Rockin' on the New Frontier
Chapter 10. "God, Country and My Baby": Rock & Roll and the Culture of the Cold War
Chapter 11. "This Magic Moment": Rock & Roll in Kennedy's America
Acknowledgments
Interviews
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Richard Aquila
Featured Contributor

Richard Aquila

Richard Aquila (Buffalo, NY) is professor emeritus of history and American Studies at Penn State University and the former host of NPR's Rock & Roll America. He is the author of The Sagebrush Trail: Western Movies and Twentieth-Century America and Let's Rock! How 1950s America Created Elvis and the Rock & Roll Craze.