1.1 the invention of youth: it is now axiomatic to see
'teenagers' as as separate group with their own
tastes and experiences. Note: It is clear youth culture
existed before the rock and roll era.
1.2 Long-term changes that contributed to our modern concept of youth:
decline of child labour from mid 19th century, rise of compulsory
education. Both contributed to the idea of a separate stage of life
between childhood and adulthood.
1.3 Short term: post-war 'baby boom', becoming sexually mature at a younger age (
due to improved diets after the end of rationing and government legislation e.g.
1944 Education Act and 1948 National Service Act
1.3.1 The Albermarle Report (1960) commissioned by the government in response to
growing concerns about a 'youth problem'. Noted adolescents were taller, heavier,
reached puberty around 15 (rather than 16/17)
1.4 Disposable income: in Mark Abrams survey 'The Teenage
Consumer' calculated that the 5 million teenagers in Britain
earned 10% of the national income and spent most of their
money on entertainment and luxuries.
1.5 Teenagers often went to the coffee bar
or milk bar to 'hang out', 'see and be seen' and
listen to music. By 1957 over 1000 coffee bars in UK.
1.5.1 London Compton Street had many coffee bars: Two Is,
Heaven and Hell (famed for live rock and roll), music in
other bars was provided by a jukebox (gave listeners
greater control over music they heard). By 1958 there
were more than 7000 jukeboxes
2 What was the impact of rock and roll on youth culture?
2.1 Rock and roll was first devised and performed by black American
musicians; the name itself came from the black slang for sex. It did
not become mainstream culture until it was popularised by white
2.2 Rock and roll inspired a type of style of dress, speech and attitude that
were seen as threatening to the values of decent society
2.3 Rock and roll began in Britain, March 1955 with
the release of the film 'Blackboard Jungle' at
cinemas across the country.
2.3.1 The film was a huge hit largely because of the popularity of the
music. e.g. Bill Haley and The Comets took advantage of the
success by starring in their own film in 1956: Rock Around the
220.127.116.11 During the screening of the film, more than 60 young men,
mostly Teddy Boys, were charged with causing disturbances
inside and outside cinemas. In some towns, police reported
crowds of up to several hundred young people 'ranting' and
18.104.22.168.1 Blackburn went as far to ban the film
from being screened on its cinemas
3 How far did rock and roll Americanise Britsh
3.1 Richard Hoggart feared the Americanistion of the British youth. In
his 1957 book The Uses Of Literacy he focused on 'the juke box
boys with their drape suits, picture ties and american slouch'.
3.2 American films, Teddy boys sporting thick sideburns and wear
neck-ties (like the dangerous gambler figures) and the arrival of
American GIs in prep for assault on Nazi-held Europe in many towns
and cities between 1942-45 increased knowledge.
3.3 By 1956, when rock and roll took off in Britain the teddy boys style was
going out of fashion with the introduction of 'Mods' (influenced by chic
Italian tailoring) and 'Rockers' (largely influenced by American styles).
3.4 While the origins and first popular examples of rock music were American, the popularity
of such music in the 60s represents how British popular music was not completely
3.4.1 Many record companies had found British 'heartthrob' performers, sch as Tommy
Steele, Adam Faith and Cliff Richard to imitate young lean and trendy Elvis, rather
than the fat, middle-aged balding Bill Haley. They led their artists to release, safer,
more respectable songs in a bid to appeal to the teenage girls who bought records
and went to dance halls.
3.5 Things for rock and roll looked so bleak that in 1962 one executive at Decca
Records declared 'Groups are out; four piece groups with guitars are practically
finished'; with that opinion in mind he turn down a little known band called The
Beatles (costly error). Where The Rolling Stones was heavily based on American
blues, The Beatles and bands like The Kinks combined roll and roll with older, more
traditional British music, such as skiffle and music hall songs.
3.5.1 Many bands like this gained huge success in American charts as part of the 'British Invasion' of 1964-65.
4 How far did mass media promote a new
rock and roll culture?
4.1 CINEMA: Blackboard jungle spread new music and images of the culture of rock and roll. America
turned out a huge number of 'teenpic' films in the late 1950s and 60s e.g. Girls Town (1959), Where
The Boys Are (1960), Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962) and Beach Party (1963), often released at the same
time as the soundtrack on LP.
4.1.1 Rather than promote new rock and roll
music these films cashed in on existing
success of their stars. Many of the
iconic films of the 1960s dealt not with
cheerful exuberance of pop stars, but
with the more violent and sexual
behaviour of young, w/c people, that
rock and roll was said to inspire.
4.1.2 There were a few British 'teenpic' films such as The Beat Girl (1960) which starred
Adam Faith and was the first film soundtrack to be released on LP in Britain, Summer
Holiday (1963) and A Hard Day's Night (1964).
22.214.171.124 Michael Lindsay-Hogg who directed the Beatles final movie 'Let It Be'
was also one of the directors for the Ready Steady Go! programme.
4.2 RADIO: The only programme dedicated to to pop music, and hence increasingly rock
and roll on BBC radio was Pick Of The Pops, launched in 1955. This was because the
Board of Governors felt it was a waste of licence fee money to pay for 'needle time' while
they had perfectly good singers abd orchestras. As a result of this, a number of new
pirate radio stations, such as Radio Caroline (1964-) and Radio London 'Big L' (1964-67,
exclusively played songs from the top 40 singles 'Fab 40'), that specifically targeted
younger listeners were launched.
4.2.1 In August 1967, The Marine Broadcasting Offences Act banned
pirate radio (Radio Caroline ignored ban). The BBC filled the
gap for a pop radio station when it split the Light Programme
into Radio 1 and Radio 2 - its first channel specifically dedicated
to pop music and a younger audience.
126.96.36.199 Commercial pirate radio did bring the latest musical
trends to a national audience. There was a reciprocal
relationship between the advertisers who spondored
shows, the record companies, and the DJs who all
wanted to tap into the lucrative youth market. In doing
so, they responded to a market that already existed,
but, through the constant promotion of particular
styles, helped to shape the popular forms of youth
4.3 TELEVISION: sales of TV licences did
not take off until the coronation of
Elizabeth II 1954 (1947- 15,000 1955-
344,000 1960- 10,470,000)
4.3.1 Bill Osgerby informs the first popular music programmes on the BBC such as 'Hit Parade' (1952) 'were low-key in
the youth appeal'. 'Six Five Special' (1957) was designed to appeal to a teenage audience with presenter Pete
Murray, who had been a DJ on Radio Luxembourg. It soon attracted audiences of up to 10 illion and introduces
many new pop acts to the nation. ITV responded with Oh Boy! (1958) which focused on rock and roll, to the
exclusion of skiffle, folk, jazz and blues which featured on the BBC programmes.
4.3.2 TV cannot be said to have originally pioneered or engineered youth
culture: producers reacted to an existing teenage market and youth
culture. TV did popularise later pop trends, such as the Mod or Rocker
look, at a quicker rate than the spread of earlier stlyes such as the
Teddy boy look.
4.3.3 Ready Steady Go! was one of the first teenage-pop television shows in Britain. At the time of this particular
appearance, the program was still in its first season. Early episodes of the program featured Springfield as the
interviewer and presenter. Ready Steady Go! was on the air for just four seasons from 1963-1966 and
featured the biggest names of the day, also including the Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, The Who, and Van
Morrison to name but a few.
4.4 NEWSPAPERS: had an odd love-hate relationship with rock and roll and all the pop stars that the music gave rise to. The Daily Mirror
was keen to be associated with Bill Haley that it even sponsored a train to collect him from Portsmouth and take him to his first
performance in London. However, the same newspaper published a series of terrifying stories about the menace of juvenile delinquents
from the Teddy Boys through the Mods and Rockers of the mid-1960s.
4.4.1 Therefore, they contributed to the growth of fan mania, but also turned
whole sections of British youth into 'folk devils', blamed for driving society
towards catastrophe with their rude, outlandish behaviour.