Ed Ward

Ed Ward is the rock-and-roll historian on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

A co-author of Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll, Ward has also contributed to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and countless music magazines.

Ward lives in Montpellier, France. He blogs at Ward in France.



Tue November 15, 2011
Music Reviews

The History Of Hillbilly Boogie's Earliest Days

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 11:47 am

Jimmy Bryant.

Boogie-woogie was a piano style that began sometime in the early 20th century — and, by the 1930s, became a huge pop-music fad. Here, rock historian Ed Ward explains how the genre re-emerged in country music after WWII, when it was an important precursor to rock 'n' roll. Most of the tracks in this piece are from Hillbilly Boogie (Proper UK) and Frettin' Fingers: The Lightning Guitar of Jimmy Bryant.

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Tue November 1, 2011
Music Reviews

The SMiLE Sessions: A Window Into The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys in 1964: Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Carl Wilson.

Hulton Archive Getty Images

In the early days of high fidelity, which I remember from childhood, the idea was that it was "almost like being there" when you listened to a record, something the old recordings never really delivered. The five CDs and six-plus hours of The SMiLE Sessions are certainly almost like being there, in the studio with the studio musicians — and, occasionally, The Beach Boys themselves — and Brian Wilson, as he tried to realize something he heard in his head.

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Mon May 16, 2011
Music Reviews

Neil Diamond: The Earliest Days Of A 'Solitary Man'


Sony Legacy has just released Neil Diamond: The Bang Years 1966-1968, a compilation of songs Diamond recorded during his two years at Bang Records. Rock historian Ed Ward has this appreciation.

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Fri April 29, 2011
Spotlight on Country

Roy Orbison: A 'Monument' To A Pop Legend

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 12:07 pm

Roy Orbison.
Sony Music

Sony Legacy has collected all of the singles Roy Orbison recorded for Monument Records and released them as Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection (1960-1964).

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Tue April 19, 2011
Spotlight on Country

How The Bristol Sessions Changed Country Music

[Editor's note: A new five-disc box set, The Bristol Sessions, 1927-1928, documents a series of historic recordings made on the Tennessee-Virginia border. Ed Ward has this reflection on the sessions and the music they spawned.]

"The Victor Co. will have a recording machine in Bristol for 10 days beginning Monday to record records — inquire at our store."

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Tue March 29, 2011
Music Reviews

The Vagrants: A Hot '60s Band, For Exactly Four Years

I Can't Make a Friend, a compilation of The Vagrants' complete body of work, has just been released by Light in the Attic Records.

The Vagrants, between 1964 and '68, rose from a bunch of New York high-schoolers rehearsing in a basement in the Forest Hills section of Queens to playing for thousands of kids in clubs. Chances are, though, if you weren't in the audience, you've never heard the band.

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