As a guitar player, rock music is particularly close to my heart. The rock music genre is arguably one of America’s most significant contributions to the music world, as much of the genre either originated here directly or was appropriated and developed from here by musicians from other countries. “Rock” itself is far too broad a term to describe the genre; it is made of several subgenres, some of which became the worlds for my amusement park. The subgenres are a result of rock’s ability to transcend social class, race, gender, geography, and other divisions within society. It is a hybrid art form built by the contributions of many kinds of people. I feel this is emblematic of America as a whole, bringing together cultures and backgrounds to create one large society.
My amusement park is called quite simply “American Rock Land.” The name claims rock as American, melding together the subcultures within it. The park is in the shape of an electric guitar, itself iconic of rock. The guitar in general has been at the heart of all rock genres, whether it is acoustic guitars clanging away to folk or blues, or an electric guitar wailing solos over heavy rock. Upon entering the park, visitors walk down a path with a fret board painted on it. Lining the fret board are novelty shops selling everything from instruments to albums to signed artwork. These items are the ways in which people are able to take a piece of a hugely inspiration and creative world home with them. Posters from concerts, a masterfully built instrument, or a vinyl record recall memories of enjoying music and allow people to relive their experience in the future.
Ultimately, the task of consolidating and categorizing musicians and bands into distinct rock worlds requires an extremely lengthy amount of time. This time restraint serves as one filter to the content of the amusement park. I will admit up front that another significant filter to which bands and musicians got included was my personal favoritism. All of the acts included have inspired my understanding of rock and comprise what I would call some of the most iconic rock acts of all time. Others are worth mentioning beyond what I have included here, and not all of my favorites are represented. It can be assumed that the listed acts serve to suggest others that may also be in the park in each world. I have also excluded, for the most part, angry or dark forms of rock that while valid forms of music with real feeling, would not contribute positively to the atmosphere of fun. A world on death metal would be frightening and uninspiring to the majority of people, even so for those who enjoy that genre.
The “Rock and Roll Land” will include exhibits and rides centered on Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and the Beach Boys. This genre incorporates the race issues significantly and serves as the base for much of the rock to follow. This music and the blues to follow was developed primarily by African-Americans while slavery was alive and well in America. The park will present this fact as real and true, emphasizing the immense creative energy and significance of what a people achieved despite significant hardship and oppression. It is a success story, not a dark underbelly. Elvis will be the main attraction with “The King” ride.
The “Blues Land” will include exhibits and rides centered on The Beatles, B.B. King, The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Muddy Waters. This land addresses the British invasion and the contribution of people from other countries in the creation of the rock genre. The Beatles were most innovative and revolutionary in their music and recording techniques and so the “Yellow Submarine” ride will be the main attraction.
The “Fold and Roots Land” will include exhibits and rides centered on Bob Dylan, Crosby-Stills-Nash-and-Young, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Rait, Simon and Garfunkel, The Eagles, Cat Stevens, and James Taylor. The singer-songwriters are who I have deemed most important to this subgenre, but acts such as the Eagles expand the scope and style. This music involves lots of messages about life and so “Life Lift” will be the main attraction.
The “Heavy Rock Land” will include exhibits and rides centered on Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Jeff Beck, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers Band, Pink Floyd, and Rush. These acts took the blues and roots music and featured the electric guitar. Led Zeppelin is arguably one of the most famous and revolutionary bands of all time and so the feature ride will be the “Zeppelin Tour.”
To see where a lot of this music ends up it is important to recognize rock in what I plainly call “The ‘80s Land.” These rides and exhibits will feature arena rock and hair bands along with acts that fit into the Heavy Rock category but didn’t take off seriously until the 1980s. These include Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, Megadeath, Metallica, Motley Crue, and U2. For a comical touch, the “Hair Express” will be the feature ride.