Delving deeply into archives, [Aquila] sketches the familiar story that rock arose as a hybrid of rhythm and blues, country, and pop. Bill Haley and the Comets might have launched the phenomenon of white artists recording black R&B hits, but Elvis’s version of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” propelled white rock and roll into the stratosphere, moving R&B to a new level. Aquila deftly illustrates the ways that radio deejays such as Dick Biondi, television shows, and movies promoted rock stars, providing wider cultural coverage for this new music. Aquila cannily emphasizes that rock and roll reflected rather than challenged the cultural values of Cold War America: capitalism was inherent in marketing a new product to an audience willing to buy records, and the music unquestioningly incorporated gender and sexual stereotypes of the time.
. . .a welcome addition to the serious literature [on] the history of rock and roll. . . . [Aquila] has narrowed his history to the very birth of the music in the crucial 1945 to 1956 years, and it is here that he provides new insights and understandings.