The History of Rock Told in a Whirlwind 15-Minute Video

Based in Eng­land, Itha­ca Audio spe­cial­izes in cre­at­ing music for film, TV, ani­ma­tions and games. And they also have a knack for remix­ing audio visu­als and pro­duc­ing mashups. Care to sam­ple their work? Watch the video above.

The His­to­ry of Rock takes you from Elvis to The White Stripes, trav­el­ing from 1957 to 2003, in the space of 15 min­utes. 348 rock­stars, 84 gui­tarists, 64 songs, 44 drum­mers — they’re all knit­ted into a nar­ra­tive using a device–the Face­book timeline–that came into exis­tence in 2004. It’s anachro­nis­tic but clever, and I’m will­ing to sus­pend dis­be­lief and take the ride. A big­ger com­plaint might be the one made by For­rest Wick­man over at Slate. “No Lit­tle Richard. No Ike Turn­er and Jack­ie Bren­ston. No Sis­ter Roset­ta Tharpe. No Bo Did­dley or Big Joe Turn­er,” he observes. The His­to­ry of Rock would have you believe that “rock was [orig­i­nal­ly] pio­neered exclu­sive­ly by white artists.” Give Kei­th Richards and Mick Jag­ger the chance–two icons who orig­i­nal­ly saw them­selves as just play­ing the Amer­i­can blues–and they might tell the ori­gin sto­ry of rock n roll a lit­tle dif­fer­ent­ly.

Below you can see a list of tracks used in the mashup. And if you head over to the Itha­ca Audio web­site, you can down­load the sound­track in full.

Elvis Pres­ley — Jail­house Rock
The Yard­birds — For your Love
The Rolling Stones — Honky Tonk Women
The Rolling Stones — (I Can’t Get No) Sat­is­fac­tion
Cream — Sun­shine of your Love
Led Zep­pelin — Whole Lot­ta Love
Led Zep­pelin — Good Times, Bad Times
Led Zep­pelin — Immi­grant Song
Jimi Hen­drix — Hey Joe
Jimi Hen­drix — Pur­ple Haze
Fleet­wood Mac — Oh Well (Part 1)
The Kinks — You Real­ly Got Me
The Doors — Rid­ers on the Storm
Queen — Don’t Stop Me
Queen — Radio Ga Ga
Queen — Anoth­er One Bites the Dust
Queen — A Kind of Mag­ic
The Bea­t­les — Sgt. Pep­per’s Lone­ly Hearts Club Band
The Who — Baba O’Ri­ley
The Who — Emi­nence Front
Black Sab­bath — Iron Man
Black Sab­bath — War Pigs
Deep Pur­ple — Woman From Tokyo
Deep Pur­ple — Smoke on the Water
Deep Pur­ple — Liv­ing Wreck
The Eagles — Life in the Fast Lane
Aero­smith — Walk this Way
Aero­smith — Dude Looks Like a Lady
Alice Coop­er — I’m Eigh­teen
The Clash — Train in Vain (Stand by Me)
The Police — Rox­anne
Jour­ney — Don’t Stop Believin’
Dire Straits — Sul­tans of Swing
Duran Duran — Girls on Film
Duran Duran — Wild Boys
Pink Floyd — Anoth­er Brick in the Wall
David Bowie — Let’s Dance
David Bowie & Queen — Under Pres­sure
Iron Maid­en — Run to the Hills
Def Lep­pard — Pour Some Sug­ar on Me
Guns N’ Ros­es — Mr Brown­stone
Guns N’ Ros­es — Sweet Child O’ Mine
AC/DC — Back in Black
Rage Against the Machine — Bomb­track
Rage Against the Machine — Guer­ril­la Radio
Rage Against the Machine — Killing in the Name
Metal­li­ca — Enter Sand­man
Nir­vana — Smells Like Teen Spir­it
Nir­vana — Heart Shaped Box
Oasis — Super­son­ic
Oasis — Live For­ev­er
Blur — Song 2
The Verve — Bit­ter­sweet Sym­pho­ny
Radio­head — High and Dry
Radio­head — Idioteque
Red Hot Chili Pep­pers — Can’t Stop
The Killers — All These Things That I’ve Done
Foo Fight­ers — All My Life
U2 — Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
Linkin Park — One Step Clos­er
The White Stripes — Sev­en Nation Army
The Strokes — 12 51
Goril­laz — Clint East­wood
Kings of Leon — Sex on Fire

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

A His­to­ry of Rock ‘n’ Roll in 100 Riffs

Rock Crit­ic Greil Mar­cus Picks 10 Unex­pect­ed Songs That Tell the Sto­ry of Rock ‘n’ Roll

The Evo­lu­tion of the Rock Gui­tar Solo: 28 Solos, Span­ning 50 Years, Played in 6 Fun Min­utes

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Comments (10)
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  • Ariel says:

    This is ridicu­lous, only two black artists from the whole bunch? Are Jour­ney and Duran Duran real­ly more impor­tant to rock and roll his­to­ry than Chuck Berry or Lit­tle Richard? Ridicu­lous.

  • Sadanand says:

    Thank you! Enjoyed every minute.
    @Ariel, agree with you that Chuck Berry and Lit­tle Richard are some of the great­est, the com­pos­er of this med­ley may have inad­ver­tent­ly missed them. Hope­ful­ly the next ver­sion will take care of this. Till then, enjoy this her­culean effort of bring­ing so many great artists togeth­er seam­less­ly.

  • JV says:

    I’m not one to harp over quo­tas of one kind or anoth­er, but when you omit foun­da­tion­al fig­ures like Chuck Berry, Lit­tle Richard, Ike Turn­er, etc., it becomes dif­fi­cult to enjoy the piece. Major fail.

  • Ithaca Audio says:

    Hi, we have been stag­gered by the amount of inter­est in the video over the last cou­ple of days.

    Some peo­ple have made some real­ly good points about the diver­si­ty of the acts involved and raised ques­tions about what’s been includ­ed vs what hasn’t etc. There are tons of huge­ly influ­en­tial artists and sub-gen­res that we haven’t includ­ed in this and our main aim was to cre­ate a mashup that was fore­most enter­tain­ing to watch, con­tain it to around 15mins, for it to pri­mar­i­ly work well musi­cal­ly (and in the form of a Face­book feed) and have exam­ples of the evo­lu­tion of main­stream rock over the decades rather than cre­ate a kind of defin­i­tive doc­u­men­tary of rock. We real­ly hope that comes across and peo­ple enjoy the video for what it is. It would have been great for us to start ear­li­er on and explore more of the influ­ence of the ear­ly pio­neers before Elvis, which we picked main­ly because musi­cal­ly it makes a great sound­ing intro with The Yard­birds. As you guys can prob­a­bly tell, more hours than we’d like to think about now went into work­ing out this giant musi­cal jig­saw and get­ting it to work har­mon­i­cal­ly at the same time, but in hind­sight there are def­i­nite­ly some changes we’d make. Thanks for watch­ing though and for the inter­est­ing points that peo­ple are mak­ing too — it’s all good to hear.

  • Zam says:


  • Viki says:

    Thanks for all your work, and with that time frame, there is no way to cov­er every­one. Any­one can be a crit­ic. No mer­it in that. I hope you make more. Hap­py trails.

  • Mike says:

    I see every­one has beat­en me to the punch in point­ing out that rock and roll did not begin with Elvis Pres­ley. Car­ry on then.

  • Paul Tatara says:

    Agreed. It’s pret­ty ludi­crous.

  • Bill says:

    The nit-pick­ers can bite me. I thought it was bril­liant.

  • Enoni Mosu says:

    While i did enjoy this, I can­not call this The His­to­ry of Rock music. There is no men­tion of RUSH.

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