These rock and roll quotes show us how rock and roll music is a uniquely American creation with an often misunderstood past.
Looking around and seeing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll marathon, and Rock and Roll Sushi it’s easy to see how rock and roll is everywhere in American culture.
Historian Daniel Boorstin said, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” Rock and roll is often associated with white American culture, and many white artists have pioneered the genre.
However, rock and roll is music created by African Americans, and like many uniquely African American creations, it was taken and re-imaged into mainstream culture. Pioneers such as Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe pioneered the transformation from blues to rock.
Check out these rock and roll quotes to learn about its evolution into a global phenomenon.
Don’t forget to also check out these music quotes on how it heals our soul.
Rock & Roll quotes about its origins
1. “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.” – John Lennon
2. “Elvis may be the King of rock and roll, but I am the Queen.”- Little Richard
3. “Rock and roll is not just music, it is a way of life, it has its own spirit.”- Anupam Roy
4. “Jazz, rock and roll, movies and comics are the culture of America.”- Bill Griffith
5. “I am the innovator. I am the originator. I am the emancipator. I am the architect of rock ‘n’ roll!”- Little Richard
6. “I always felt rock and roll was very, very wholesome music.” – Aretha Franklin
7. “I was always drawn to gospel music and the roots of African-American music. It’s the foundation of rock and roll.” – Hozier
8. “Most of modern rock and roll is a product of guilt.”- Captain Beefheart
9. “I grew up on the precursors to rock and roll, rhythm and blues.”- Bobbie Ann Mason
Quotes That Sum Up Rock & Roll
10. “Rock and roll is – and should be – a kid’s place.”- Ben Folds
11. “I didn’t think you could just become a rock and roll singer.”- Tom Petty
12. “Rock and roll: music for the neck downwards.”- Keith Richards
13. “Rock and roll is the hamburger that ate the world.”- Peter York
14. “Prince presented us at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”- Bernie Worrell
15. “If it’s illegal to rock and roll, throw my ass in jail!”- Kurt Cobain
16. “To me, rock and roll is like an ethos or a state of mind.”- Kevin Parker
17. “If you want to release your aggression, get up and dance. That’s what rock and roll is all about.”- Chuck Berry
18. “The great thing about rock and roll is that someone like me can be a star.”- Elton John
19. “There will never be another Freddie Mercury, one of the greatest rock and roll singers.-” Dave Clark
20. “It was always my belief that rock and roll belonged in the hands of the people, not rock stars.”- Patti Smith
Rock & Roll Quotes To Make You Smile
21. “You can’t have rock and roll without drugs, you can’t have rock and roll without sex.”- Rick James
22. “There’s a hell of a lot of freedom in this rock and roll circus… it’s where all the freaks go – it’s the environment for me.”- Brian Molko
23. “Rock and Roll has no beginning and no end for it is the very pulse of life itself.”- Larry Williams
24. “I loved being a rock and roll star, but it wasn’t what I wanted in life.”- Patti Smith
25. “Energy is so important. If you don’t have it, don’t bother with rock and roll.” – Yoko Ono
26. “And, as soon as I could put together the, you know, three or four notes that made up, like, sort of a rock and roll lick, you know, like a Chuck Berry kind of thing, I was off and running. Just completely taken over.” – Slash
27. “Rock and roll stars have it much better than writers when they’re on a tour.”- Neil Gaiman
28. “In my opinion, hip-hop has a lot to do with rock and roll, because at one point it was considered an alternative – edgy, independent. Hip-hop is pots and pans the way that punk is garage. You make something out of nothing.”- CeeLo Green
29. “The old-timers schooled me good. They brainwashed me to respect music, whether we were playing rockabilly or blues or rock and roll.”- Dr. John
30. “I look back on my life, comin’ out of Macon, Georgia – I never thought I’d be a superstar, a living legend. I never heard of no rock and roll in my life.”- Little Richard
Rock & Roll quotes about its impact
31. “I like to rock and roll, but I’m a mushy guy, too. I want to be the guy that all the girls love and all the guys want to hang out with.”- Kenny Chesney
32. “I mean, there’s times to rock and roll, and I love that too. But I think my first love is acoustic music.”- Graham Nash
33. “I’ve always played every amp I’ve ever had full up, because rock and roll is supposed to be played loud. Also, that’s how you get your sustain.”- Ritchie Blackmore
34. “I can’t tell you what I had for breakfast, but I can sing every single word of rock and roll.”- Patty Duke
35. “The whole world loves American movies, blue jeans, jazz and rock and roll. It is probably a better way to get to know our country than by what politicians or airline commercials represent.“- Billy Joel
36. “My mom passed away a day before high school started, and her dream was for me to be a full rock and roll guy, and play drums in a band.”- Travis Barker
37. “I’m not terribly happy about rock and roll. Certain rock music is uninspiring, numbing; it makes you feel like an idiot.”- Manuel Puig
38. “I was 12 in ’55 when rock and roll hit. It just completely transformed me.”- Robert Quine
39. “Rock and roll might be summed up as monotony tinged with hysteria.”- Vance Packard
40. “Rock and roll is a contact sport. I enjoy playing the tunes that really get the people going.”-Richie Sambora
41. “Rock and roll music – the music of freedom frightens people and unleashes all manner of conservative defense mechanisms.”- Salman Rushdie
Celebrating Rock & Roll Quotes
42. “I take my job as a rock and roll sax player very seriously. To do it the way that I must do it, I must be in good condition. The better shape you’re in, the harder you can rock.”- Clarence Clemons
43. “I love classic rock, rock and roll, that’s the top-notch. I love soul – bluesy music as well.”-Haley Reinhart
44. “Well, all rock and roll is based in artifice.”- Billy Corgan
45. “Every 15, 20, 25 years, a new rock and roll record needs to come out and a new rock and roll band needs to come out.”- Steven Adler
46. “What are the symbols of American strength, wealth, power and modernity? Certainly not jazz and rock and roll, not chewing-gum or hamburgers, Broadway or Hollywood. It’s their skyscrapers. Their Pentagon. Their science. Their technology.”- Oriana Fallaci
47. “I have a saying, which is, ‘Crazy is good for business.’ I think rock and roll really is about being a bit crazy.”- Billy Corgan
48. “The whole idea of rock and roll lifestyle is a cartoon. It’s a caricature. And at times, it’s made up of people emulating others; a few who actually live that lifestyle and many who claim to live that lifestyle.”- Paul Stanley
49. “When the fearsome foursome of rock music, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis, decided to show up in Toronto for a rock and roll festival, I knew we had to go there to try to get them all on film.”- D. A. Pennebaker
50. “The Ramones are an original rock and roll group of 1975, and their songs are brief, to the point, and every one a potential hit single.”- Tommy Ramone
Which of these Rock & Roll quotes is your favorite?
In a 2015 piece chronicling the history of rock and roll in the The NewYorker noted that “Rock and roll is usually explained as rhythm-and-blues music—that is, music performed by black artists for black listeners—repurposed by mostly white artists for a mostly white audience.”
The article provides an in-depth history of the racial bias in the Billboard charting system and describes in detail how the Billboard system and the radio networks were predicated on segregation.
In spite of these obstacles, many African American artists pioneered taking the blues sound and transforming it into what we know as rock. Little Richard described the process as “The blues had an illegitimate baby and we named it rock ‘n’ roll.” Later on, Hall of Fame artists such as Jimmy Hendrix and Prince would carry on the tradition.
Do you have a favorite rock and roll quote? Let us know in the comments.
January 13, 2022 7:00 AM EST