'Rock Bands' of the Nineteenth Century

Harmonicon

hide captionThis harmonicon is on display at the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery.

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There's rock music — you know, the kind inaugurated by Chuck Berry in the 1950s — and then there's rock music, the kind that was played on actual rocks in 19th-century England. Paul Collins has written about the phenomenon of early rock bands in The Believer magazine, and talks about his findings.

The world's first rock band, Collins writes, "explodes onto the London scene with a rough-hewn set of waltzes and quadrilles" in 1842. The band was fronted by Joseph Richardson, a mason from Keswick, England who constructed an instrument resembling a xylophone. The "harmonicon" used 65 pieces of rock and was played with wooden mallets.

Read Collins' Article

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