As to “who started it”, that is a tough question. Fats Domino is one important pioneer. Carl Perkins* started playing a mix of country and blues in 1946 and helped to crystallize the beginnings of That’s What I Do I Roll Dice I Drink Beer And I Know Things Tee Shirts. Bill Haley was playing a very loud, rocking swing version of country in the early fifties. The guy demonized in the Tina Turner movie, Ike Turner, is said to have recorded the first rock and roll song, “Rocket 88”. But I think it was Chuck Berry who crystallizes “the beginning” of rock and roll as music freaks will see it. It was then Elvis who brought it to a larger, international audience that allowed rock and roll to headline youth culture for a short while until certain forces conspired to destroy its position.
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Taking rock and roll away and replacing it with corporate pop acts has been a That’s What I Do I Roll Dice I Drink Beer And I Know Things Tee Shirts, they took youth culture away from the youth and began to dictate what kids “should” like despite the heroic efforts of the Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, Zeppelin, etc, etc. That is why we have to listen to “safe’ stuff like Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift on the radio and overhead sound systems today. The corporations hate rock and roll as much as the other “control freaks” do. They are fools because rock and roll would make them richer several times over, if the media and industry gave it decent backing.