Instrumental rock

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Instrumental rock is a type of rock music which emphasizes musical instruments, and which features very little or no singing.

Examples of instrumental rock can be found in practically every subgenre of rock, often from musicians who specialize in the style, most notably Buckethead, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Link Wray, Eric Johnson, Chuck Berry, Surfaris, Dick Dale, The Ventures, The Shadows, Jeff Beck, Paul Gilbert, Booker T and the MGs and The Champs.


Early history

Instrumental rock was most popular during rock and roll's first decade (mid-1950s to mid-1960s), before the British Invasion.

One notable early instrumental was "Honky Tonk" by the Bill Doggett Combo, with its slinky beat and sinuous saxophone-organ lead. And bluesman Jimmy Reed charted with "Boogie in the Dark" and "Roll and Rhumba".

Jazz saxophonist Earl Bostic revived his career with instrumentals like "Harlem Nocturne" and "Earl's Rhumboogie". (Other jazz musicians who scored pop hits include Tab Smith and Arnett Cobb). Several rhythm and blues sax players had hit instrumental songs, including Big Jay McNeeley, Red Prysock, and Lee Allen, whose "Walking with Mr. Lee" was quite popular.

There were several notable blues instrumental songs during the 1950s; Little Walter's rollicking "Juke" was a major hit.

Instrumental hit songs could emphasize electronic organ (The Tornados' "Telstar", Dave "Baby" Cortez's "The Happy Organ", Johnny & the Hurricanes' "Red River Rock"), or the saxophone (The Champs' "Tequila", Bill Black's Combo's "Don't Be Cruel", The Piltdown Men's "McDonald's Cave"), but the guitar was most prominent. Duane Eddy scored several hits (his best known probably being "Rebel 'Rouser"). Eddy was the first rock & roll artist to release an album in stereo. Link Wray's ominous "Rumble" might be only instrumental rock hit ever banned from some radio stations.

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