The most comprehensive list of Rock Music genres and information available anywhere (almost!)

The Music Genres List site covers many of the most popular styles of Rock music, including British Invasion (my personal favourite!), Hair Metal (one of my more amusing), and Rockabilly (one of the more fun genres.)

Hoping, with your help, this becomes the definitive list of Rock music genres on the Internet, send an email to add @ musicgenreslist dot com if you feel any Rock music genres are missing and we’ll  be happy add to the genres list.

Rock Genres

  • Acid Rock (with thanks to Alex Antonio)
  • Adult-Oriented Rock (thanks to John Maher)
  • Afro Punk
  • Adult Alternative
  • Alternative Rock (thx Caleb Browning)
  • American Traditional Rock
  • Anatolian Rock
  • Arena Rock
  • Art Rock
  • Blues-Rock
  • British Invasion
  • Cock Rock
  • Death Metal / Black Metal (see Metal Music Genre)
  • Doom Metal (thx Kevin G) (see Metal Music Genre)
  • Glam Rock
  • Gothic Metal (fits here Sam DeRenzis – thx) (see Metal Music Genre)
  • Grind Core (see Metal Music Genre)
  • Hair Metal (see Metal Music Genre)
  • Hard Rock
  • Math Metal (cheers Kevin) (see Metal Music Genre)
  • Math Rock (thx Ran’dom Haug)
  • Metal (this has been moved to its own category Metal Music)
  • Metal Core (thx Ran’dom Haug) (see Metal Music Genre)
  • Noise Rock (genre – Japanoise – thx Dominik Landahl)
  • Jam Bands
  • Post Punk (thx Ben Vee Bedlamite)
  • Prog-Rock/Art Rock
  • Progressive Metal (thx Ran’dom Haug) (see Metal Music Genre)
  • Psychedelic
  • Rock & Roll
  • Rockabilly (it’s here Mark Murdock!)
  • Roots Rock
  • Singer/Songwriter
  • Southern Rock
  • Spazzcore (thx Haug)
  • Stoner Metal (duuuude) (see Metal Music Genre)
  • Surf
  • Technical Death Metal (cheers Pierre) (see Metal Music Genre)
  • Tex-Mex
  • Thrash Metal (thanks to Pierre A) (see Metal Music Genre)
  • Time Lord Rock (Trock) ~ (thanks to ‘Melia G)
  • Trip-hop (Ta Will)

Think we’re missing some rock music genres? Please send your rock genre suggestions to add @! Thank you!

Rock can mean many different things to different folks.

According to

Most popular genres are Rock & Roll and Classic Rock


Rock Music Genre

Rock is a popular genre of music that originated with rock and roll in the 1940s and 1950s, but it encompasses a wide range of musical styles today. Rock and roll started drawing inspiration from blues, folk, and country music in the middle of the twentieth century, for example. What began as rock and roll in the 1940s and 1950s came from boogie-woogie, jazz, jump blues, gospel, country music, and rhythm and blues.

It’s also sometimes written as rock & roll or rock ‘n’ roll.

In early rock and roll, the piano or the saxophone was the lead instrument, but by the late 1950s, they had been replaced by the guitar. Rock and roll is identified by a dance rhythm, with a snare drum providing the accentuated backbeat.

Rock and roll had a contribution to society far beyond the music. It influenced attitudes, fashion, lifestyles, and language. It even contributed to the civil rights movement as both white American and African American teenagers shared an enjoyment of the music.

Since the 1960s, it has spawned several other genres including the rock music of today. These genres are no longer identified with the same accentuated backbeat but have a similar set of instruments including guitars, bass, and drums.

Origins of Rock Music

Rock and roll origins are a point of contention with historians. The general agreement is that it began in the southern regions of the United States, where most popular rock and roll performers began. It was produced by a meeting of influences, like traditional African music and European instrumentation.

Think you know rock music???

I highly recommend this book for some great trivia / facts! (click to buy)

African Roots

Many descendants of former slaves moved to major urban areas during this time and brought the music with them. Large numbers of black people were living closer together than at any other time in history, and they began to imitate fashion and hear each other’s music.

A cultural collision burgeoned as whites began to take up black music, like jazz and swing. While rock and roll’s immediate roots are in rhythm and blues and country, influences were widespread.

Jazz and swing from the 1930s were some of the first music forms that presented African American styles to white audiences. In the 1940s, the sounds of blaring horns, boogie-woogie beats, and shouted lyrics burgeoned.

Economic and Technological Influences

Soon, the effects of World War II made large jazz bands less economical because of shortages in fuel, personnel, and audiences. Bands were downsized to include a guitar, bass, and drums, or a similar combination.

Simultaneously, in the Midwest and on the west coast, the jump blues emerged, featuring guitar riffs, shouted lyrics, and prominent beats. The marriage of these ideas created the foundation for rock and roll.

As it would happen, rock and roll showed up during a time of great technological change with the electric guitar with its amplifier, microphones, and the 45 records. Changes in the recording industry were happening with independent labels emerging.

Rock and roll was getting airtime on radio stations, regardless of the artist’s ethnicity, and when affluent white teenagers began listening, it defined a distinct genre of its own.

Musical hybrids of Rock (1950-1960)

Rockabilly appeared in the mid-1950s and was popularized by white performing artists such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. They drew their roots more from country music, but their styles were influenced by many rock and roll musicians as well.

Doo-wop is also compared to rock and roll but places more emphasis on vocal harmonies. It is characterized mostly by its meaningless background lyrics and light instrumentation.

Rock and roll took a brief hiatus in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Instead, the genre saw more British rock influences and a faded into soft R&B. Rock reemerged in the late 1960s, but it had already changed.

Divergence of Rock (1960 – 1980)

In the late 1960s, rock and roll began to move away from the idea that it was comparable to popular music. The term pop began to identify a genre that was commercial, accessible and aimed at the teenage crowd.

Rock music instead focused on extended works, like albums, and was associated more with subculture and counterculture. It valued artistic emphasis and authenticity. It stressed live performances and vocal or instrumental virtuosity.

There were also a few garage rock bands beginning to develop with lyrics about lying girls and aggressive delivery. In the 1970s, rock returned in part to its roots with what was coined roots rock. They moved away from the psychedelic scene, returning to the basics of rock and roll with the original influences like folk and country.

Country rock and Southern rock developed out of this movement and with it a natural division between soft rock, hard rock, and other sub-genres. The punk rock era also began in the 1970s. This gave way to other types of alternative rock and grunge, which came about in the 1980s and was characterized by a dirty sound, rebellion, and unkempt appearance.

Rock used elements of heavy metal and punk but relied on fuzz, distortion, and feedback, too.

Indie Rock (1990s)

The 1990s were an age of mainstream indie rock, which seems like an oxymoron. Being alternative, or indie, was popular, and many artists moved to private or independent labels to maintain control of their careers.

Today, there are still many subgenres of rock music. It’s nearly impossible to say the term rock without having to classify what you mean. It’s also rare that a person likes just one type of rock music because they all share the same roots and have similar qualities.


List of Famous Rock Artists

“Weird Al” Yankovic
3 Doors Down
Al Green
Alan Jackson
Alanis Morissette
Alice In Chains
All Time Low
Aretha Franklin
Avenged Sevenfold
Avril Lavigne
Beastie Boys
Bee Gees
Big & Rich
Billy Currington
Billy Joel
Blake Shelton
Bob Dylan
Bob Marley
Bon Jovi
Boys Like Girls
Brad Paisley
Breaking Benjamin
Brooks & Dunn
Bruce Springsteen
Bryan Adams
Cee Lo Green
Céline Dion
Chris Brown
Chris Tomlin
Christina Aguilera
Cobra Starship
Counting Crows
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Daft Punk
Darius Rucker
Dave Matthews Band
David Bowie
David Cook
David Guetta
Death Cab for Cutie
Depeche Mode
Destiny’s Child
Dierks Bentley
Dixie Chicks
Earth, Wind & Fire
Eli Young Band
Elton John
Elvis Presley
Enrique Iglesias
Eric Clapton
Etta James

Faith Hill
Fall Out Boy
Fat Joe
Finger Eleven
Five Finger Death Punch
Five for Fighting
Fleetwood Mac
Foo Fighters
Frank Sinatra
Gavin DeGraw
Gnarls Barkley
Good Charlotte
Grateful Dead
Green Day
Guns N’ Roses
Gwen Stefani
Gym Class Heroes
Hank Williams, Jr.
Hollywood Undead
Ingrid Michaelson
Jack Johnson
Jackson 5
James Blunt
James Taylor
Janet Jackson
Jason Mraz
Jay Sean
Jimmy Buffett
Jimmy Eat World
John Denver
John Legend
John Mayer
John Mellencamp
Johnny Cash
Jonas Brothers
Josh Groban
Josh Turner
Justin Moore
Justin Timberlake
Katy Perry
Keith Urban
Kelly Clarkson
Kenny Chesney
Kevin Rudolf
Kings of Leon
Led Zeppelin
Linkin Park
Lupe Fiasco
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Mariah Carey
Marilyn Manson
Maroon 5
Martina McBride
Marvin Gaye
Mary J. Blige
Matchbox Twenty
Matt Nathanson
Metro Station
Michael Bublé
Michael Jackson
Missy Elliott
Modest Mouse
Montgomery Gentry
Mötley Crüe
My Chemical Romance

Natasha Bedingfield
Neil Diamond
Neil Young
Nine Inch Nails
Norah Jones
Ozzy Osbourne
Panic! At the Disco
Papa Roach
Paul McCartney
Pearl Jam
Phil Collins
Pink Floyd
Plain White T’s
Rage Against the Machine
Ray LaMontagne
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Rise Against
Rob Thomas
Rod Stewart
Sarah McLachlan
Secondhand Serenade
Shania Twain
Sheryl Crow
Simon & Garfunkel
Simple Plan
Smashing Pumpkins
Snoop Dogg
Snow Patrol
Stevie Wonder
Stone Temple Pilots
System of a Down
The All-American Rejects
The Beach Boys
The Beatles
The Black Eyed Peas
The Black Keys
The Cure
The Doors
The Fray
The Goo Goo Dolls
The Killers
The Offspring
The Police
The Pussycat Dolls
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
The Rolling Stones
The Temptations
The Wanted
The White Stripes
The Who
Theory of a Deadman
Third Eye Blind
Three Days Grace
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Trace Adkins
Uncle Kracker
Van Halen
Van Morrison
Whitney Houston
Willie Nelson
Young Money
Zac Brown Band
ZZ Top

11 Responses
  • Molon Labe
    March 21, 2016

    I see folks in this list that are by no means rock. Those being the likes of Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, sure as hell not Jay-Z or 2pac.

  • Sarah
    March 22, 2017

    You forgot twenty one pilots

  • erratum corrigendum
    February 13, 2019

    WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for music notes

  • Gemma
    April 4, 2019


  • Shawna Shannon
    July 3, 2019

    Black Lable Society Zakk Wylde

  • Logan Dockery
    August 24, 2020

    Honorable Mentions:The Monkees John Lennon George Harrison Ringo Starr Yardbirds John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers ABBA Run DMC ETC.

  • kourtnay
    September 24, 2020


  • jeffery
    October 21, 2020

    very NICE!!

  • Hxlxn
    November 10, 2020

    Where’s SOFT ROCK?

  • Zaiden
    March 10, 2021

    Where is E.L.O.?

  • Alice Carroll
    February 14, 2022

    Wow, I didn’t know that it’s been quite a long time since the emergence of folk rock in the music scene. I have a friend who would like to look for a contemporary folk rock singer songwriter one of these days because she would like to turn some of her old poems into songs that she could release as an EP. Working with a professional producer for that will probably be a good idea.

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