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Hard rock or heavy rock is a loosely defined subgenre of rock music typified by aggressive vocals and distorted electric guitars. Hard rock began in the mid-1960s with the garage, psychedelic and blues rock movements. Some of the earliest hard rock music was produced by the Kinks, the Who, the Rolling Stones, Cream, Vanilla Fudge, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In the late 1960s, bands such as Blue Cheer, the Jeff Beck Group, Iron Butterfly, Led Zeppelin, Golden Earring, Steppenwolf and Deep Purple also produced hard rock.
The genre developed into a major form of popular music in the 1970s, with the Who, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple being joined by Queen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Kiss, and Van Halen. During the 1980s, some hard rock bands moved away from their hard rock roots and more towards pop rock. Established bands made a comeback in the mid-1980s and hard rock reached a commercial peak in the 1980s, with glam metal bands such as Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard as well as the rawer sounds of Guns N' Roses which followed with great success in the later part of that decade.
Hard rock began losing popularity with the commercial success of R&B, hip-hop, urban pop, grunge and later Britpop in the 1990s. Despite this, many post-grunge bands adopted a hard rock sound and the 2000s saw a renewed interest in established bands, attempts at a revival, and new hard rock bands that emerged from the garage rock and post-punk revival scenes. Out of this movement came garage rock bands like the White Stripes, the Strokes, Interpol and later the Black Keys. In the 2000s, only a few hard rock bands from the 1970s and 1980s managed to sustain highly successful recording careers.
Hard rock is a form of loud, aggressive rock music. The electric guitar is often emphasised, used with distortion and other effects, both as a rhythm instrument using repetitive riffs with a varying degree of complexity, and as a solo lead instrument. Drumming characteristically focuses on driving rhythms, strong bass drum and a backbeat on snare, sometimes using cymbals for emphasis. The bass guitar works in conjunction with the drums, occasionally playing riffs, but usually providing a backing for the rhythm and lead guitars. Vocals are often growling, raspy, or involve screaming or wailing, sometimes in a high range, or even falsetto voice.
In the late 1960s, the term heavy metal was used interchangeably with hard rock, but gradually began to be used to describe music played with even more volume and intensity. While hard rock maintained a bluesy rock and roll identity, including some swing in the back beat and riffs that tended to outline chord progressions in their hooks, heavy metal's riffs often functioned as stand-alone melodies and had no swing in them. In the 1980s heavy metal developed a number of subgenres, often termed extreme metal, some of which were influenced by hardcore punk, and which further differentiated the two styles. Despite this differentiation, hard rock and heavy metal have existed side by side, with bands frequently standing on the boundary of, or crossing between, the genres.
The roots of hard rock can be traced back to the mid to late 1950s, particularly electric blues, which laid the foundations for key elements such as a rough declamatory vocal style, heavy guitar riffs, string-bending blues-scale guitar solos, strong beat, thick riff-laden texture, and posturing performances. Electric blues guitarists began experimenting with hard rock elements such as driving rhythms, distorted guitar solos and power chords in the 1950s, evident in the work of Memphis blues guitarists such as Joe Hill Louis, Willie Johnson, and particularly Pat Hare, who captured a "grittier, nastier, more ferocious electric guitar sound" on records such as James Cotton's "Cotton Crop Blues" (1954). Other antecedents include Link Wray's instrumental "Rumble" in 1958, and the surf rock instrumentals of Dick Dale, such as "Let's Go Trippin'" (1961) and "Misirlou" (1962).
In the 1960s, American and British blues and rock bands began to modify rock and roll by adding harder sounds, heavier guitar riffs, bombastic drumming, and louder vocals, from electric blues. Early forms of hard rock can be heard in the work of Chicago blues musicians Elmore James, Muddy Waters, and Howlin' Wolf, the Kingsmen's version of "Louie Louie" (1963) which made it a garage rock standard, and the songs of rhythm and blues influenced British Invasion acts, including "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks (1964), "My Generation" by the Who (1965) and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (1965) by the Rolling Stones. From the late 1960s, it became common to divide mainstream rock music that emerged from psychedelia into soft and hard rock. Soft rock was often derived from folk rock, using acoustic instruments and putting more emphasis on melody and harmonies. In contrast, hard rock was most often derived from blues rock and was played louder and with more intensity.
Blues rock acts that pioneered the sound included Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the Jeff Beck Group. Cream, in songs like "I Feel Free" (1966) combined blues rock with pop and psychedelia, particularly in the riffs and guitar solos of Eric Clapton. Cream's best known-song, "Sunshine of Your Love" (1967), is sometimes considered to be the culmination of the British adaptation of blues into rock and a direct precursor of Led Zeppelin's style of hard rock and heavy metal. Jimi Hendrix produced a form of blues-influenced psychedelic rock, which combined elements of jazz, blues and rock and roll. From 1967 Jeff Beck brought lead guitar to new heights of technical virtuosity and moved blues rock in the direction of heavy rock with his band, the Jeff Beck Group. Dave Davies of the Kinks, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, Pete Townshend of the Who, Hendrix, Clapton and Beck all pioneered the use of new guitar effects like phasing, feedback and distortion. The Doors' debut album released in 1967, included songs like "Soul Kitchen", "Twentieth Century Fox", and a cover version of "Back Door Man", which were what music journalist Stephen Davis characterized as "enough hard rock tracks". The Beatles began producing songs in the new hard rock style beginning with their 1968 double album The Beatles (also known as the "White Album") and, with the track "Helter Skelter", attempted to create a greater level of noise than the Who. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic has referred to the "proto-metal roar" of "Helter Skelter", while Ian MacDonald called it "ridiculous, with McCartney shrieking weedily against a massively tape-echoed backdrop of out-of-tune thrashing".
Groups that emerged from the American psychedelic scene about the same time included Iron Butterfly, MC5, Blue Cheer and Vanilla Fudge. San Francisco band Blue Cheer released a crude and distorted cover of Eddie Cochran's classic "Summertime Blues", from their 1968 debut album Vincebus Eruptum, that outlined much of the later hard rock and heavy metal sound. The same month, Steppenwolf released its self-titled debut album, including "Born to Be Wild", which contained the first lyrical reference to heavy metal and helped popularise the style when it was used in the film Easy Rider (1969). Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968), with its 17-minute-long title track, using organs and with a lengthy drum solo, also prefigured later elements of the sound.
By the end of the decade a distinct genre of hard rock was emerging with bands like Led Zeppelin, who mixed the music of early rock bands with a more hard-edged form of blues rock and acid rock on their first two albums Led Zeppelin (1969) and Led Zeppelin II (1969), and Deep Purple, who began as a progressive rock group in 1968 but achieved their commercial breakthrough with their fourth and distinctively heavier album, Deep Purple in Rock (1970). Also significant was Black Sabbath's Paranoid (1970), which combined guitar riffs with dissonance and more explicit references to the occult and elements of Gothic horror. All three of these bands have been seen as pivotal in the development of heavy metal, but where metal further accentuated the intensity of the music, with bands like Judas Priest following Sabbath's lead into territory that was often "darker and more menacing", hard rock tended to continue to remain the more exuberant, good-time music.
In the early 1970s the Rolling Stones further developed their hard rock sound with Exile on Main St. (1972). Initially receiving mixed reviews, according to critic Steve Erlewine it is now "generally regarded as the Rolling Stones' finest album". They continued to pursue the riff-heavy sound on albums including It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (1974) and Black and Blue (1976). Led Zeppelin began to mix elements of world and folk music into their hard rock from Led Zeppelin III (1970) and Led Zeppelin IV (1971). The latter included the track "Stairway to Heaven", which would become the most played song in the history of album-oriented radio. Deep Purple continued to define their unique brand of hard rock, particularly with their album Machine Head (1972), which included the tracks "Highway Star" and "Smoke on the Water". In 1975 guitarist Ritchie Blackmore left, going on to form Rainbow and after the break-up of the band the next year, vocalist David Coverdale formed Whitesnake. 1970 saw the Who release Live at Leeds, often seen as the archetypal hard rock live album, and the following year they released their highly acclaimed album Who's Next, which mixed heavy rock with extensive use of synthesizers. Subsequent albums, including Quadrophenia (1973), built on this sound before Who Are You (1978), their last album before the death of pioneering rock drummer Keith Moon later that year. 041b061a72