First of all, let’s define hard rock. Also called “pop
metal”, hard rock was created in the late 1960s. It
takes its influences from rock 'n' roll and rhythm ‘n’
blues, going back to
and Chuck Berry, without forgetting
The Beatles, all artists influenced by
Already in the mid-1960s, bands like The Kinks
and The Small Faces bring pop rock to a higher notch of “hardness”,
adding distortion to the guitars. But, it’s truly with The
The Who, Cream,
Zeppelin that one can start to talk about hard
rock or “heavy metal”, with heavy guitars and a
supported and dynamic rhythm section. Heavy metal will
go on its way while dropping swinging rock 'n' roll to
concentrate on the heaviest and darkest side of rock 'n'
Sabbath). On its side, hard
rock continued in a more pop direction by preserving the
“swing” of bluesy rock 'n' roll and the catchy choruses
that are accessible to many people.
“Glam rock” contributed largely to the development of
hard rock, putting in evidence the stage performance and
the looks of the musicians. In the early 1970s, the most
outstanding artists who will allow the genre to truly
explode are Alice Cooper,
will then come to make the genre more accessible than
ever in the early 1980s and
Bon Jovi will follow
the same steps. In addition, a new wave of “hair metal”
coming from Los Angeles, California will change the face
of pop music. Bands like
Mötley Crüe and
Poison will present a deprived rock ‘n’ roll sound
with excessive make-up, puffy hair and extravagant
clothing. In parallel, groups a little rougher will make
their mark anyway like
Guns N’ Roses.
Hard rock lost its popularity with the advent of
“grunge” in the early 1990s, a genre which was going to
open the door to alternative rock. Years 2000 brought a
short new life to hard rock, thanks to bands like
and The Darkness.
Hard rock generally covers light subjects (parties,
girls, drugs, alcohol, fun, and so on). It’s a sound we
have to listen to with the volume to the maximum. Long
guitar solos also are an integral part of this music
genre, which made it possible to discover many virtuosos
of this instrument essential to rock 'n' roll. Another
important characteristic of hard rock: most of the
albums contain at least a soft ballad.
Other music genres have common characteristics with hard
rock, but some obvious differences will make us not
consider them for the needs of this website. These
genres are heavy metal, punk rock, alternative rock,
progressive rock and pop rock.
Heavy metal: Darker and more violent lyrics. A
heavier sound, often faster and less directly inspired
of bluesy rock 'n' roll. Classic British metal (Black
Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest) is the
sub-genre which is the closest to hard rock. One
associates also often
Led Zeppelin with it, even if we
consider them here as the founders of hard rock.
Punk rock: More political and anarchist lyrics. A
rock ‘n’ roll sound going back to the basics, generally
faster, without guitar solos or ballads, but especially
less accessible. Pop punk and some more positive
contemporary bands can be compared with hard rock anyway
(Green Day, Blink 182, Fall Out Boy).
Alternative rock: A post-punk sound with more
social and political lyrics and more creative
compositions, less centered on bluesy rock 'n' roll.
Several artists present anyway many common points with
hard rock, in particular by the energy they have (REM,
Replacements, Pearl Jam).
Progressive rock: More complex musical structures
and many experiments try to give more artistic
credibility to rock 'n' roll (Yes, Marillion,
Pop rock: A more accessible sound, less centered
on rock 'n' roll and rhythm ‘n’ blues. It’s a sound
which can reach many people (U2,
Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen).
The artists we can place in one of the previous
categories will thus not be considered in this hard rock
guide. You will be able to discover a complete listing
of the hard rock bands and a presentation page will be dedicated to
them containing a large amount of information about
them. You will also be able to discover the best hard
rock albums issued between 1965 and today. You will thus
have a full portrait of the hard rock history, such as
we define it here.
We wish you a good visit and pleasant discoveries. And
don't forget to come back often to discover the new
presentation pages added.