Rock became popular in the 1950s through two of their original forms Rock & Roll and Rockabilly. Rock & Roll originated as a category to describe African American musicians that were playing a fast tempo Rhythm & Blues such as Little Richard and Chuck Berry. Rockabilly comes from some young Western Swing performers that began to incorporate its faster tempo combining it with Country influences and tends to be applied to white musicians like Carl Perkins and was most popular through the early recordings of Elvis Presley. This type of music was very popular through 1958 when it started to fade with the arrival of Teen Pop, despite the emergence of Surf Rock with bands like The Shadows and The Ventures in the late 1950s and early 1960s and Garage Rock in the early 1960s.
In the 1960s, a lot of British bands like The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Beatles, recreated elements of American Blues and Rock & Roll generating a cross-influence between the US and the UK and bring Rock back to popularity. During that decade, Rock expanded the use of the electric guitar with different guitar effects, the use of heavier riffs and more experimental solos.
Since then, Rock has become extensively and internationally popular, evolving into different subgenres depending on the different elements that have been emphasized by the artists. A raw, straightforward attitude and way of playing, along with a counterculture aesthetic shaped Punk Rock. The use of guitar distortion and a more aggressive sound led to Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. The use of keyboards, the combination of guitar scales, melodic progressions and tempo changes into complex compositions led to Progressive Rock. A very fast way of playing led to Speed Metal and Thrash Metal. These only show a couple of examples of how different elements were emphasized, but Rock has also combined with other genres, instruments and influences to expand its boundaries, hence Folk Rock, Funk Rock, Blues Rock and other subgenre terms have become widely used.
In the last decades, since rock has been brought a number of times into the mainstream, that original rebel attitude has become a less characteristic trait. Lots of bands have retained elements of the Rock sound, but have been polished and shaped by the commercial industry into mass consumption products. Therefore, terms like Alternative Rock and Indie Rock has been used to describe artists that record independently or that initially made music that was off the mainstream.