I’ve been enjoying my deep dive into rock history of late, especially the golden-oldie glory days. Last week I wrote about the mid-50s tech innovations that helped rock & roll achieve lift-off. This week: the political and religious opposition that nearly grounded it.
Unless you lived through—or heavily researched—those early days of rock, you may be unaware of the distraught reactions that entertainers like Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry drew from morality’s gatekeepers. As mentioned in an earlier post, rock & roll was a “communicable disease” (according to at least one respected American psychiatrist) and a tool of Satan (according to hundreds of religious authorities, including Cardinal Ratzinger, who went on to become Pope Benedict XV). Another critic railed against rock’s “deafening, dope-ridden, degenerate mob scenes.” More alarming to me, a research study purported to show that overexposure to rock beats “causes homosexuality in mice and deafness in pigs.” (As if we don’t have enough problems.)