Rock , in its broadest sense, can refer to almost all popular music recorded since the early 1950s . Its earliest form, rock and roll, arose from multiple genres in the late 1940s , most importantly jump blues . Although invented by Chuck Berry , it was first popularized by performers like Bill Haley , Buddy Holly , and Elvis Presley , who fused the sound with country music , resulting in rockabilly . In addition, gospel music and a related genre, R&B (rhythm and blues), emerged later in the decade. R&B soon became one of the most popular genres, with girl groups , garage rock and surf rock most popular in the US, while harder, more blues-oriented musicians became popular in the UK, which soon developed into British blues , merseybeat , mod and skiffle .
Starting the mid-1960s, a group of British bands that played variations on American R&B-influenced blues became popular on both sides of the Atlantic -- the British Invasion , a catchall term for multiple genres. These groups, including the Beatles , fused the earlier sounds with Appalachian folk music , forming folk rock , as well as a variety of less-popular genres, including the singer-songwriter tradition. Early heavy metal and punk rock bands formed in this period, though these genres did not emerge as such for several years.
The most popular genre of the British Invasion was psychedelic music , which slowly morphed into bluegrass -influenced jam bands like the Grateful Dead and ornate, classically -influenced progressive rock bands. Merseybeat and mod groups like The Yardbirds and The Who soon evolved into hard rock , which, in the early 1970s specialized into a gritty sound called glam rock , as well as a mostly underground phenomenon called power pop . In the early to mid-1970s, singer-songwriters and pop musicians led the charts, though punk rock and krautrock also developed, and some success was achieved by southern rock and roots rock performers, which fused modern techniques with a more traditionalist sound. In the 1980s, rock continued to evolve as metal became popular and punk continued to evolve. The two encountered a fusion of sorts, creating grunge in the early 1990s, a style of alternative rock (which includes Britpop , gothic rock , and shoegazing , among others).