I'm looking to learn more about the history of rock and roll music, and I'm interested in all of it, from Fats Domino to today. I'm mostly familiar with classic rock (Beatles, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc.), 80's pop (Duran Duran, Adam Ant) and "rock my wife doesn't like" (Metallica, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails), and I know that there's a lot I've missed and would like to expand what I know and hopefully what I like. I'm especially ignorant regarding punk, an interest ignited by my enjoyment of Green Day.

Ideally, I'd like to listen while I learn, so I've enjoyed some of the PBS documentaries I've seen on YouTube. I spend hours on Wikipedia reading about many bands all kinds of genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres, some I've heard of, most new to me. But the Wikipedia articles don't help much when learning about music. The terms mean nothing to me. I need to hear it.

So, does anyone have a suggestion for a fairly complete history of rock music that covers at least close to modern releases?

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    At the very least, you should have seen the BBC's "Seven Ages Of Rock". Another somewhat decent series is the "Decline of Western Civilization" trilogy, although much of it is actually staged and/or scripted. Nov 30, 2015 at 18:21
  • This isn't exactly what you are asking for, but I can tell you a few ways I have expanded my personal music tastes is simply by listening to albums that have been on the billboard charts in the past. Also look at music sites such as rateyourmusic.com for highly recommended albums. That site also has an automated recommend feature that helped expose me to a lot of great music.
    – sanpaco
    Nov 30, 2015 at 21:41
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    Nothing to do today? Bored? Just a suggestion, but I've learned much playing this stupid little game: Check out the catalogs of the early rock n' roll labels like Sun and Verve. Work your way up the list chronologically, googling albums without discretion. If you like an album, do a little research on it while you listen to it. Often, that research will lead you to other groups. If not, refer back to the label catalog. Rinse and repeat. Also, although often wildly inaccurate, VH1 is your friend (assuming VH1 is still the music doc channel it was ~2000. Haven't had cable in years).
    – user1103
    Dec 1, 2015 at 18:18

2 Answers 2


There's a book called 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die that has a fairly good and wide selection of albums arranged chronologically, dating back to the 50's and last updated in 2008. It's not exclusively rock, but rock definitely dominates, particularly in the middle years. Discog has a listenable version of the list:



That's a pretty expansive list you want to cover there. I suggest you break it up into sections over a period time. I've found that the easiest way to build up your music library is to go to Amazon and buy used CD's as well as Murfie Music. For starters if you are interested in punk I suggest you start out with Agent Orange and the Buzzcocks. Green Day covered some of their songs and they are deeply rooted in the foundation of punk history.

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