The history of rock ‘n’ roll could fill volumes. It isn’t neat, it isn’t tidy, and it didn’t arrive suddenly in the form of Bill Haley and His Comets or Elvis Presley. Instead, it evolved from a number of sources over time. It was created as the lines between blues, country and gospel music slowly blurred until, by the mid-1950s, a completely new form of music had been created. As rock ‘n’ roll progressed, it continued to grow and change, splintering into countless genres and sub-genres.
It is because of rock’s complexity that I was struck by an encounter between David Bowie and the Killers. According to a 2005 Rolling Stone interview, Bowie saw the Killers perform in New York City and went to meet them backstage after the show where he told them, “I felt like I just saw the history of rock & roll.”
I assume that Bowie was referring to all the different influences evident in the Killer’s music, but it got me thinking about taking something as vast and unmanageable as the history of rock and boiling it down to something bite-sized, like a show or a mixtape.