7.12.23 4

Rock and Roll

What happened to rock and roll? Has anyone else noticed? The entire genre has gone up in smoke. When did it happen? When did rock die?

Thanks to iTunes, I don’t listen to the radio anymore. I add new music to my playlist every couple of years. That music comes from the Billboard charts.

Imagine my shock when I pulled up the rock chart for 2022 to find Steve Lacy and Imagine Dragons. Who is making these charts? Better question: do they even know what rock music is?

The birth of rock happened when the South merged country music with rhythm and blues. The sound created is defined by propulsive rhythm, fuzzy guitar riffs, and a wide range of lyrical compositions.

Let’s get this straight, there are no synthesizers in rock and roll. Machine Gun Kelly does not qualify. Why is he even on the list? And where are all the new rock bands?

North Carolina may not be known for its role in rock history, but rock and roll is a big deal throughout the South. I was raised on it.

The Old North State has several music scenes: Chapel Hill, Asheville, and Wilmington. Chapel Hill and Wilmington’s scenes are both rock based.

Most people competely overlook Wilmington’s rock community. It drives me crazy.

I grew up with Schuylar Croom of He is Legend. The band was formed in our hometown of Wilmington. Schuylar and I went to school together for years, attended the same church, and hung out in youth group.

I have more significant ties to the Wilmington music community too. My family is pretty well-known back home. My uncle, Greg Dew, was the lead guitarist of Nearly Famous for years. They won the Battle of the Bands almost every year when I was a kid.

His son, Evan (y’all know him as Ebie), has been playing guitar since we were little. His first “gig” was when we were just nine years old. He played “Wipe Out” at his brother’s wedding that year. He didn’t miss a chord.

I’m not kidding when I say Evan should be in the limelight. When we were in high school, he could’ve given Slash a run for his money. I say that as a die hard Slash fan. I’ve never heard a more talented guitarist – and that’s not me being biased; it’s true.

Evan has been in several bands over the years: Hanover Fist, Sacred Circle, Mr. Jager, and Atomic Cocktail. Today, you can catch him playing with Jacknife.

Then there’s our cousin, Mechelle, who goes by Claudia professionally. She may not live in North Carolina, but she was born here. Mechelle is the lead singer of Virginia Beach’s Bam Bam Betty. You can listen to her over on iTunes.

Thanks to all of these incredible artists, I’ve been surrounded by rock music my whole life. I can’t believe I blinked, and the entire genre died.

So why does rock’s disappearance even matter? It matters because rock music is an integral part of Southern culture.

Rock and roll simply cannot be allowed to go gently into that good night.

Leave a Comment


  1. Patrick OHannigan wrote:

    I liked your essay. This is why Bob Dylan says that the Rolling Stones are the world’s greatest rock band, and will forever be. Dylan would know. He wasn’t really picking sides in the perennial Stones vs. Beatles fight (even though the Beatles are pop, not rock). He meant that rock and roll as a cultural influence and dominant musical genre had passed its peak. I think Casey Kasem used to say that the “rock era” started in 1955. It had a good run. But music in these streaming and YouTube days is all about narrowcasting, not broadcasting. Who does stadium tours anymore? Only bands that started more than 40 years ago.

    Published 7.12.23
    • Cassie wrote:

      Thank you! I’m not sure rock is ready to end, yet. Sweet Child O’Mine was on the charts last year. And both of my teens listen to 60s-early 2000s rock. There’s definitely still a market for it. It’s just that there’s no one putting any good music out there anymore. Maybe YouTube is to blame. I don’t know. 🙁

      Published 7.12.23
  2. Dave Weaver wrote:

    I grew up in Jacksonville, FL. in the 60’s and 70’s. Two bands hail from there. The Allman Brothers Band, and Lynyard Skynyrd. Also the band Limp Biskit hails from my old hometown as well. Love them all. But Marshall Tucker and Charlie Daniel Band the best! Seen all in concert in the ’70s, except Limp Biskit… they weren’t born yet!🤣

    Published 7.12.23
    • Cassie wrote:

      I love ALL of those bands! Charlie Daniels grew up here in North Carolina. I saw him in concert when I was about 14. I hate to see such an important part of our culture dry up and blow away. As Charlie would’ve said: the South needs to do it again! 😉

      Published 7.12.23