Rock Music Genres Family Tree

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Rock music Sub-Genres


Skiffle is a music genre with jazz, blues, and folk influences, typically using homemade or improvised instruments like the washboard. It originated in the United States in the early 20th century but became popular in the UK in the 1950s, notably influencing The Beatles.

Bands: Lonny Donnegan

Rock & Roll

Rock & roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music. Its beat is characterized by a simple, usually repetitive structure which is most often focused on the rhythms.

Bands: Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard


Rockabilly blends rock and roll and hillbilly music, dating back to the early 1950s in the United States. It is characterized by its upbeat tempos, simple chords, and lyrical focus on teenage life. Key artists include Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

Bands: Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Wanda Jackson

Classic Rock

Classic rock is a radio format which developed from the album-oriented rock (AOR) formats in the early 1980s. In the United States, this rock music format now features a large playlist of songs ranging from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, focusing on the commercially successful rock music of that era.

Bands: The Who, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones

Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. It emerged during the mid-1960s, and was pioneered by bands like Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead.

Bands: Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane

Country Rock

Country rock is a genre that fuses the elements of rock and country music. It was developed by rock musicians who began to record country-flavored records in the late-1960s and early-1970s. These musicians recorded rock records using country themes, vocal styles, and additional instrumentation, most characteristically pedal steel guitars.

Bands: The Eagles, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Linda Ronstadt, and the Byrds

play my version of 'Little Wing' by Jimi Hendrix

Prog Rock

Progressive rock, or prog rock, is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid to late 1960s. It is characterized by complex song structures, sophisticated instrumentation and often incorporates elements from classical, jazz and other musical genres.

Bands: Genesis, Yes

Southern Rock

Southern rock is a subgenre of rock music and a genre of Americana. It developed in the Southern United States from rock and roll, country music, and blues, and is focused generally on electric guitar and vocals.

Bands: lynyrd skynyrd, Little Feat

Glam Rock

Glam rock is a style of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s performed by musicians who wore outrageous costumes, makeup, and hairstyles, particularly platform shoes and glitter. David Bowie and Marc Bolan of T. Rex are most commonly associated with this movement.

Bands: David Bowie, Elton John, Mott the Hoople, Sweet, Slade, Mud, Roxy Music

Yacht Rock

Yacht rock refers to the highly polished brand of soft rock that emanated from Southern California during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The term describes a smooth musical style made by artists such as Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, and Toto.

Bands: Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs

Stadium Rock

Stadium rock is a genre of rock music that is designed to be played to large audiences in arenas and stadiums. It includes anthemic, highly melodic choruses, and notable hooks, with a focus on straightforward, driving rhythms and instrumentation. Bands like Queen and U2 exemplify this style.

Bands: Styx, Toto, Journey, REO Speedwagon and Boston, Guns N' Roses

Punk Rock

Punk rock is a music genre that originated in the mid-1970s, primarily in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Characterized by its fast tempos, short songs, minimal instrumentation, and often political and anti-establishment lyrics, punk rock was a reaction against the perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. Bands like The Ramones, Sex Pistols, and The Clash are pioneers of the genre.

Bands: Sex Pistols, Ramones, The Clash, The Damned, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop

Indie Rock

Indie rock is a genre of rock music that originated in the 1980s as a part of the independent music underground. Rather than pursuing traditional commercial success, indie rock artists are often known for their quirky, unconventional sound and their emphasis on artistic expression.

Bands: Bloc Party, the Arctic Monkeys and the Killers

Alternative Rock

Alternative rock is a style of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1980s and became widely popular in the 1990s. The term "alternative" was used to describe punk rock-inspired bands that didn't fit into mainstream genres.

Bands: REM, Chilli Peppers, Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins, Snow Patrol, Radiohead, INXS

Hardcore Punk

Hardcore punk, often referred to simply as hardcore, is a punk rock music genre and subculture that originated in the late 1970s. Hardcore is generally faster, harder, and more aggressive than earlier punk rock.

Bands: Black Flag, Dead Kennedys


grunge logo

Grunge is a rock music genre and subculture that emerged during the mid-1980s in the Pacific Northwest U.S. state of Washington, particularly in Seattle. Known for its distorted guitars, contrasting song dynamics, and raw, angsty lyrics, it was made famous by bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

Bands: Nirvana, Foo Fighters , Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam

see also grunge

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