UK pubcaster BBC4 is readying a three-hour documentary series that explores the birth and popularity of rock ‘n’ roll music in the U.S. between 1954 and 1964.
Titled Rock ‘n’ Roll America, the three-parter will be narrated by actor David Morrissey and is to trace the roots of the genre deep within the American south in the 1950s, exploring the musical stylings of Fats Domino and Little Richard, and spotlighting the origins of Elvis Presley’s career as a local singer in Memphis, Tennessee.
As well, the series will explore the subculture’s explosive move into the mainstream at the hands of Elvis’ performance of “Hound Dog” on The Milton Berle Show in 1956, the media’s unsuccessful attempts to quell the genre, the early demise of Buddy Holly at 22 and America’s introduction to The Beatles in 1964.
The series is to feature exclusive interviews with a raft of music legends, including Ben E. King, Chubby Checker, Ronnie Spector, Tom Jones, Pat Boone, Don Everly (pictured), Wanda Jackson, Joe Boyd, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Crickets’ Jerry Allison.
“So many of the greats who helped define and kick-start that era are getting to the end of their lives,” said Mark Cooper, BBC head of music television and the series’ executive producer, said in a statement. “Now seemed like the perfect moment to celebrate that magical decade, to examine it journalistically and to try and give a sense of what it felt like to be young and alive and inventing something as new and wild and alive as rock ‘n’ roll.”
Rock ‘n’ Roll America was ordered by Jan Younghusband, head of commissioning for music at the British broadcaster, and is set to premiere on July 3 at 9 p.m. The remaining episodes will air on July 10 and 17.