Rock ‘n Roll (aka”Dancing in the Street”)

This is the 10-part docuseries from the BBC (in the U.K.) and PBS (U.S.).

In the U.S., it’s called “Rock ‘n Roll”. In the U.K., its title is “Dancing in the Street”.

It covers rock music from around 1950 to 2000.

It’s the best documentary on the history of rock and roll I can find.

There’s another doc called “The History of Rock and Roll” that’s a close second. I’ll review that another time.

Part 1: The Renegades (PBS) / Whole Lotta Shakin’ (BBC)

Ah, the fifties—a simpler time that was anything but quiet. Here comes rock ‘n’ roll, barreling down the cultural highway, ready to knock the starch out of America’s crisp, white shirt.

Picture it: Fats Domino at the wheel in New Orleans, turning rhythm ‘n’ blues into pop music’s cheeky cousin with a swagger that would have made Sinatra take notes.

Not far behind, Little Richard is tearing up the scene, pounding the piano in a way that makes it clear this isn’t just music—it’s a revolution.

Then there’s Memphis, where the air is thick with change and barbecue smoke, and a young Elvis Presley is about to turn a recording booth into a launch pad.

It’s 1950-something, and this truck-driving kid dishes out $3.95—that’s right, just under four bucks—to lay down “My Happiness.”

Little does he know, he’s not just recording a track; he’s etching his name on the moon.

Watch it for free on YouTube at

…or for free on here

You can also watch it here:

Part 2: In the Groove (PBS) / Be My Baby (BBC)

Girl groups and surf sounds top the charts.

The ’50s rocked with hot singles. The Ronettes, The Coasters, The Shirelles—big names! Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley, too.

The Righteous Brothers and Ben E. King joined in.

You’ve also got Phil Spector, The Drifters, Ben E King, The Righteous Brothers and Leiber and Stoller. It includes the launch of Hound Dog

Surfbeat burst onto the scene.

What a time for perfect pop!

Watch it by clicking the video embed above or here’s a backup:

Part 3: Shakespeares in the Alley (PBS) / So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star (BBC)

Bob Dylan storms New York in 1961. Rock’n’roll and folk feel the shake-up. He influences everyone from the Beatles to the Byrds.

Meanwhile, the Beatles are redefining British rock. They build on the Shadows and skiffle sounds.

Lyrics suddenly matter—impact deeper.

A new political movement rises with Dylan.

Folk music electrifies, explores new directions.

English pop lands in North America, stirs excitement.

I couldn’t find a good video to embed but here are 3 links to watch it (the first is the best quality):

Part 4: Respect

Soul music’s roots traced back to Ray Charles.

He adapts gospel, pioneers a new sound. Sam Cooke’s death marks a poignant chapter. Motown rises, Detroit sound defines an era.

Memphis responds with the distinct Stax Records sound. British invasion pushes soul, R&B back to basics.

Chicago’s rumble joins the scene, adds depth. Soul’s rich tapestry unfolds across North America.

Watch it by clicking the video embed above or here’s a backup:

Part 5: Crossroads

Early sixties, Chicago blues hits Britain hard.

British fans embrace Muddy Waters, spark a wave.

New rhythm-and-blues artists emerge, roots of heavy rock. The Rolling Stones, The Animals amplify blues.

They crank up John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters. Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin burst onto the scene.

Robert Plant (Zeppelin) , Eric Burdon (Animals) and other legends from that time are interviewed.

Watch it by clicking the video embed above or here’s a backup:

Part 6: Blues in Technicolor (PBS) / Eight Miles High (BBC)

The pop scene shifts to California. 1966: San Francisco ignites the psychedelic rock era.

Hippies, drugs (including the new LSD), outdoor festivals define the culture.

The Byrds, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane lead. Janis Joplin, Country Joe and the Fish join in.

Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Roger McGuinn and many others are intereviewed.

Meanwhile, The Beatles and Rolling Stones focus on studio work. And Pink Floyd crafts experimental sounds in London.

Watch it by clicking the video embed above or here’s a backup:

Part 7: The Wild Side (PBS) / Hang on to Yourself (BBC)

Post-Summer of Love, musicians feel the fallout.

Outrageous new rock figures emerge.

The Doors, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, and David Bowie take the stage.

Sunny California’s tunes darken, blend with theater.

Themes of darkness, exhibitionism, and sexuality emerge.

New chords introduce fresh sounds.

David Bowie, The Doors, Velvet Underground, Alice Cooper, and Iggy Pop make their mark.

Lots of Bowie and Iggy Pop in this one!

Watch it here:

Part 8: Punk (PBS) / No Fun (BBC)

Mid-seventies, Jonathan Richman shakes up American music.

Punk explodes in Britain with the Sex Pistols, The Clash.

Meanwhile, prog and folk-rock stars like Yes and The Eagles luxuriate.

They live opulently, far from their fans. Reggae heats up the scene. Punk and ska burst onto the stage.

Bands like Modern Lovers, Patti Smith, and The Ramones lead. Blondie, Talking Heads, Sex Pistols stir the punk pot.

The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Buzzcocks join. Reggae and ska icons like Bob Marley, Madness emerge.

The Specials, The Beat, Selecter, UB40, and even Nirvana add flavor.

Watch it by clicking the video embed above or here are backups:

Part 9: Make it Funky

In the seventies, James Brown clinched the title “godfather of funk.”

He sparked a musical revolution, influencing the genre profoundly.

Alongside him, funk pioneers like Sly and the Family Stone, Bootsy Collins, and George Clinton innovated.

Funk blended with soul and rhythm ‘n’ blues. Icons like Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire joined the movement.

Kool and The Gang and The Jacksons added their flair.

Meanwhile, a new sound called rap emerged. Hip-hop started echoing through the streets.

Watch it here:

Part 10: The Perfect Beat (PBS) / Planet Rock (BBC)

The final episode examines music’s enduring impact—innovation, excitement, and even outrage persist.

It features interviews with New Order, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Run DMC, and The Orb.

Rock music’s intensity seemed to mellow, appetite waned. Yet new musical territories were charted.

Innovators like Grandmaster Flash, Kraftwerk, and Madonna made their marks. Michael Jackson, Run DMC, Beastie Boys pushed boundaries.

Public Enemy and De La Soul brought fresh sounds, keeping music’s spirit fiercely alive.

Watch it by clicking the video embed above or here’s a backup:

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly, Chief Maniac, Daily Doc