Rock 'n' Roll Plays Itself: A Screen History

Scanlan, John orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2951-7823 (2022) Rock 'n' Roll Plays Itself: A Screen History. N/A . Reaktion Books, London. ISBN 9781789145724

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A history of rock music’s relationship with the moving image over seven decades.

When rock 'n' roll burst into life in the 1950s the shockwaves echoed around the world, amplified by images of untamed youth projected on cinema screens. But for the performers themselves, showbusiness remained in control, contriving a series of cash-in movies to exploit the new musical fad.

In this riveting cultural history, John Scanlan explores rock’s relationship with the moving image over seven decades of cinema, television, music videos, advertising and YouTube. Along the way he shows how rock was exploited, how it inspired film pioneers and, not least, the transformations it caused over more than half a century.

From Elvis Presley to David Bowie, and from Scorpio Rising to the films of Scorsese and DIY documentarists like Don Letts, this is a unique retelling of the story of rock 'n' roll – from birth to old age – through its onscreen life.

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