shock rock, cock rock

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Thu Dec 9 09:05:10 UTC 2004

I see that the very latest OED3 draft entries of Dec. 9 include "shock
rock" and "cock rock".  First cite given for "shock rock" is 1971, so I
guess the previously discovered 1966 cite was submitted too late for

Newspaperarchive also has this cite from 1967:

Van Wert (Ohio) Times Bulletin, Nov 2, 1967, p. 11
The type of current rock and roll named were: hard rock, folk rock, raga
rock, acid rock, psychedelic rock, soul music, blue-eyed soul, shock rock,
good-timey music; muzak rock and flag rock, from each of which he played
taped excerpts. Johnson explained that acid rock and psychedelic rock
developed because of the influence of narcotic drugs and that shock rock
is censorable because of the uncouth lyrics.

First OED3 cite given for "cock rock" is 1973.  Here is a 1971 cite from
Creem Magazine's online archive:

Creem Magazine, May 1971
As much as I hate heavy music — cock rock, macho rock, or whatever the
current name for it is — I have to admit to having every Blue Cheer album
ever made, and then to having a peculiar liking for Led Zeppelin II
because of its undeniable stupid-rock punch.

I came across this 1972 cite via Amazon's "Search Inside the Book" feature:

Terry Southern, "Riding the Lapping Tongue", 1972. In: _Now Dig This: The
Unspeakable Writings of Terry Southern, 1950-1995_, p. 154.
(Originally published as: "The Rolling Stones' U.S. Tour: Riding the
Lapping Tongue," Saturday Review of the Arts, August 12, 1972)
[describing a Rolling Stones concert in Washington, D.C., July 4, 1972:]
"I'd read this if I were you," he says in a voice with neither warmth or
accent, and he hands me the following mimeographed sheet: THE STONES AND
COCK ROCK. ... Later on the plane, I show this bit of weirdness to Keith.
"'Cock-rock,'" he muses with a wan smile. "So that's it. Right then, we'll
use it."

The term "cock rock" was also apparently used by rock critic Lester Bangs
in an article in the August 1972 issue of _Ms._ magazine, "Women in Rock:
They Won't Get Fooled Again."  According to _Let it Blurt_ by Jim
Derogatis (searchable on Amazon), the article was an "attack on 'cock
rock' and a call for female equality."

--Ben Zimmer

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