More than half a century after the birth of rock, the musical genre that began as a rebellious underground phenomenon is now acknowledged as America’s-and the world’s-most popular and influential musical medium, as well as the soundtrack to several generations’ worth of history. From Ray Charles to Joni Mitchell to Nirvana, rock music has been an undeniable force in both reflecting and shaping our cultural landscape. Icons of Rock offers a vivid overview of rock’s pervasive role in contemporary society by profiling the lives and work of the music’s most legendary artists.
Most rock histories, by virtue of their all-encompassing scope, are unable to cover the lives and work of individual artists in depth, or to place those artists in a broader context. This two-volume set, by contrast, provides extensive biographies of the 24 greatest rock n’ rollers of all time, examining their influences, innovations, and impact in a critical and historical perspective. Entries inside this unique reference explore the issues, trends, and movements that defined the cultural and social climate of the artists’ music. Sidebars spotlight the many iconic elements associated with rock, such as rock festivals, protest songs, and the British Invasion. Providing a wealth of information on the icons, culture, and mythology of America’s most beloved music, this biographical encyclopedia will serve as an invaluable resource for students and music fans alike.
Greenwood has published another title on popular music, adding to their Icons of Hip Hop (2007) and Icons of R&B and Soul (2008). Arrangement is more or less chronological; coverage begins with Elvis Presley. Icons of Rock is an overview of the most important artists and their influence on international popular culture and history. There are no surprises in the list of 24 biographies. The treatment of Joni Mitchell—incidentally, the only woman included in the work—is insightful, particularly when her influence on jazz and folk is also considered.The lengthy articles are well written and quite readable. The volume also contains a time line in each article as well as sidebars; for example, the Beatles article has sidebars on other British-invasion bands, such as the Hollies and the Kinks. Articles end with discographies and further-reading lists. The discographies only list selected works; a list of all official U.S. releases would be more helpful for the listener and the researcher. The set concludes with more extensive bibliographies. Unfortunately, there are not many photographs. This work is recommended for high-school and public libraries as well as academic libraries with popular-culture collections. Also available as an e-book. –Lisa Johnston
“As with other entries in the series, the articles in these three volumes feature a nice mix of scholarly excellence and great reading appeal. The editor/authors were chosen for their breadth of knowledge, and much care was taken to present the topics in a way that provides context.Expect to find a time line of significant events, followed by entries with essential historical data and a legacy discussion pointing out the significance of the icon to the genre. Signed articles are accompanied by further reading and interspersed with chronologies and interesting sidebars.These sets are excellent for students requiring authoritative studies yet popular enough in writing style to allow for leisure reading. Recommended as solid encyclopedias of important figures, so purchase as interest warrants for school, public, and college library reference collections.” – Library Journal
“From Elvis Presley to Nirvana, the 24 detailed essays spotlight the careers of leading contributors to the development of rock and roll. Each entry describes the background and early careers of an artist or group, their introduction to music, training and beginnings in the recording industry. Coverage includes discussion of influences, stylistic choices, major compositions and both critical and popular receptions of their work. Personal and creative relationships are described in detail, as are business difficulties and successes….The publisher’s companion set, Icons of R&B and Soul (Greenwood 2008), provides more detailed discussion of rock’s African-American roots. The two sets overlap in their coverage of Ray Charles and James Brown. Together both sets offer a substantial introduction to the works of individuals who genuinly chnaged the face of popular music. These sets will serve a wide range of audiences from high school to adult.” – Lawrence Looks at Books
“This two-volume set by veteran popular music writers Scott Schnider and Andy Schwartz and a handful of other writers explores the two dozen rock groups and solo artists the authors consider most influential in rock music history….Each entry contains a black-and-white photo of the artist and a detailed and lengthy essay that is scholarly yet accessible. A timeline, selected discography, and suggestions for further reading conclude each entry. A selected bibliography and index finish the set….[T]his set’s lovingly written essays contain a wealth of knowledge and informed perspectives and would be an excellent edition to high school, college, and public libraries.” – Reference & User Services Quarterly
“Icons of Rock is an overview of the most important artists and their influence on international popular culture and history. There are no surprises in the list of 24 biographies. The treatment of Joni Mitchell–incidentally, the only woman included in the work–is insightful, particularly when her influence on jazz and folk is also considered….The lenghty articles are well written and quite readable. Icons of Rock contains a time line in each article as well as sidebars; for example, the Beatles article has sidebars on other British-invasion bands, such as the Hollies and the Kinks….These works are recommended for high-school and public libraries as well as academic libraries with popular-culture collections. (Joint review with Icons of R&B and Soul).” – Booklist
“[A] top pick for any college-level music library strong in contemporary music. Part of the Greenwood Icons series, it offers a comprehensive encyclopedia of the musicians who changed music forever, ranging from Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry to David Bowie, Bob Dylan and more. Each featured musician receives extensive notes relating to their body of work and contributions to the atmosphere of popular music as a whole, making for an invaluable survey for scholars, students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the history and history-makers of rock music….[V]ery highly recommended.” – Midwest Book Review/Internet Bookwatch
“Icons of Rock contains enough meaty details to engage neophytes and aficionados alike. It is a fine introduction to a select group of artists whose music begs discovery and rediscovery.” – ARBA