July 9, 2008

The Genealogy of Rock

Ever seen those diagrams which try to visually depict how rock music has evolved over the last 50 years? I know of a few.

The first is the Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music as featured in Edward Tufte’s excellent book Visual Explanations. Click through for a larger version I stitched together that’s actually readable.


This poster is $33 for an “archival paper” print, but it only goes up to 1978.

There’s another diagram used as a blackboard teaching aid in the 2003 movie School of Rock, which is full of great rock music. It’s also a bit more modern.


It’s a great movie and I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t seen it already. For one thing, it’s an extremely rare instance of Led Zeppelin licensing their music for a movie; the School of Rock movie DVD extras contain a neat story of how they got the band to grant permission. (Hint: it wasn’t easy!)

The movie was based on the (very) real world Paul Green School of Rock Music, which teaches kids how to play the guitar, bass, drums, and vocals in a real band. There’s a small documentary Rock School on the actual school itself. I’ve seen that too — it’s amazing how well some of those kids learn to play! You can check out the kids’ performances on YouTube.

Anyway, the contents of the School of Rock blackboard were transcribed for our convenience by Frank:


There’s also The Family Tree of Rock and Roll, which looks interesting.


Too bad there are no decent overviews of the poster itself; the autographs sections has some highlights, though.


This poster is only $13 (shipping included); not a bad deal. It was authored around 1990, so I’m assuming it goes at least that far in rock history.

Know of any other good Rock and Roll family tree diagrams?

I found this some time ago, which is essentially the same as what you are talking about but for techno.

The cool thing is, it has really nice audio samples of all of the hundreds of sub-genres and offshoots of electronic music.

Someone should make this for rock.

Bryan Chain
July 10, 2008 at 8:31 am

Notice Dewey’s blackboard pointer is “throwing up the horns”? Rock on, rock on.

July 16, 2008 at 1:23 am

Thanks for this site.
This one should be good, either!

March 30, 2009 at 9:25 am


June 28, 2009 at 5:57 am

dude anyone knows where i can get a pointer like the one Jack uses? Thanx!

July 8, 2010 at 5:54 am

Nice collection!
Here is an interactive Family Tree of Rock I put together recently:


June 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm

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