A Musical Road Trip Through the Golden Era of American Rock & Roll, 1955–1970
Taught by Peter Elman, musician, author and teacher
Info: [email protected]
or call 510.865.5060
This six-week music history class will cover the Golden Age of American rock & roll from 1955 to 1970. It will be taught chronologically and geographically across several regions where key American musical movements sprang up, and includes a special exploration of one legend’s 1965 masterworks.
The course will incorporate lectures, photographs, recorded music, film clips, Q&A sessions, and the use of live music. Instructor Peter Elman will perform appropriate examples from each genre in class, playing piano and guitar. A suggested reading, listening and viewing list will be given out at the first class.
Week 1: Thursday, September 8
New Orleans and the Deep South, 1955–1960: The Cradle of Rock & Roll
From the fields to the factories to Friday night, this class looks at Leadbelly, Robert Johnson at the crossroads, early rhythm and blues, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry.
Week 2: Thursday, September 15
Up the Big Muddy to Memphis, 1955–1962: The Rockabilly Era
Rhythm and blues meets country and western, and the result is rock ‘n’ roll. This class examines Sun Studio, Sam Phillips, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochrane and Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and the Everly Brothers.
Week 3: Thursday, September 22
North to New York City, 1957–64: The Urbanization of Rock & Roll
This class delves into the sounds coming out of the big city. The singers: Solomon Burke, Ray Charles, Jackie Wilson, the Drifters, the Coasters and Sam Cooke. The producers: Phil Spector, Bert Berns, Jerry Wexler and Atlantic Records. The songwriters of the Brill Building: Pomus/Shuman, Goffin/King, Leiber/Stoller, Greenwich/Barry and Mann/Weill.
Week 4: Thursday, September 29
Double Back to Memphis and Points South, 1963–68: Muscle Shoals, Soul Music to the Fore
A discussion of the phenomenal success of Stax/Volt Records, featuring Otis Redding, Booker T and the MGs, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and James Brown.
Week 5: Thursday, October 6
Migration to Motown, 1963–1970: How a Little House in Detroit Became “Hitsville”
An examination of the period when the Motor City became hallowed ground for American pop music, featuring Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.
Thursday, October 13: No Class
Week 6: Thursday, October 20
From a Buick 6: On the Road and In the Studio with Bob Dylan and The Band, 1965
An in-depth look at the poet laureate of rock ‘n’ roll’s classic 1965 trilogy of rock albums, and the impact of his legendary backing band, the Americana trailblazers The Band.
About Peter Elman
Peter Elman has been a professional musician since 1963, working as a performer, composer, arranger, studio musician, recording artist and producer. He has worked with Nils Lofgren (Bruce Springsteen), Peaches & Herb, Grammy-winning writer/producer Rick Nowels (Stevie Nicks, Madonna, Celine Dion), country star Lacy J. Dalton, Tom Johnston (Doobie Brothers) and Stef Burns (Huey Lewis and the News), and has produced more than 30 albums. He was also a founding member of the popular Bay Area band Pride & Joy. Elman has worked on film, television and national advertising campaigns, and in the 1990s released four acclaimed solo instrumental albums.
As a freelance writer, he worked for the Contra Costa Times covering prep and college sports from 2000 to 2011, and currently writes for the Ultimate Sports Guide. Elman recently published his first book, Seasons, Rhymes in Time, a children’s picture book of song poems with an accompanying CD. He teaches a series of interactive popular music classes for several local universities, and taught English, history and other courses in the Albany (California) school district from 2006–2015.