How Post WWII Economic Conditions Helped Lead to the Birth of Rock n' Roll

08 Jan 2015

The war effort brought America out of the Depression. Employment was high and wages were good. 

But with the end of WW II came the end of that massive industrial build-up. Factories laid off workers and disposable income fell.

This impacted directly on the size of popular orchestras and big bands. Venues were no longer willing to pay the heavy costs associated with these groups. Bandleaders had no choice but to downsize to smaller combos.

With fewer players, instrumentation began to favor the piano and saxophone (and later, guitars and bass) over a strong backbeat. These groups—especially the African-American outfits on the well-travelled touring routes in the southern US known as the “chitlin’ circuit”—began to incorporate blues, jazz, swing, gospel, boogie woogie, rockabilly and country into their sound. By the beginning of the 1950s, music had evolved to the point where it eventually resolved into what we would call the rock n’ roll sound.

Back to Blog List