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Quest for rock 'n' roll

  • Story Highlights
  • Quest is on a mission to uncover the spirit of rock 'n' roll
  • His journey starts in Memphis, Tennessee, as he joins fans paying tribute to Elvis
  • Quest meets Alice Cooper, hell-raiser Nikki Sixx and guitar legend Les Paul
  • Next Article in Entertainment »
By Producer Matt Percival
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(CNN) -- This month Richard Quest puts on his blue suede shoes and heads backstage for an insider's guide to rock 'n' roll -- not simply a musical form, but an attitude that changed the world.


Quest meets rock 'n' roll's great survivor, Alice Cooper.

With the help of some of the industry's iconic figures, he delves between the notes of an art form that yells for freedom, rejects convention and provides a voice for each new generation.

His Quest for rock 'n' roll begins at the roots of musical revolution in Memphis, Tennessee. It's August 16, the day Elvis Presley met his untimely death, 30 years ago.

Seventy-five thousand fans from all over the world have made the pilgrimage to mark this very special anniversary. All have come to celebrate the life of the original rock 'n' roll rebel, a performer described as the greatest cultural force of the 20th century.

Quest marvels at the array of sideburns on show and speaks to Elvis' life long friend Jerry Schilling about the man who catapulted rock 'n' roll into the mainstream.

A short hop north is Cleveland, Ohio, home of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Here Quest meets CEO Terry Stewart for the quintessential guide to what rock 'n' roll is, where it comes from and what it stands for.

"It's better to burn out than fade away" may be a rock cliche but with a career spanning four decades, Alice Cooper might want to revise that well-trodden phrase.

Compared to its musical rivals, rock 'n' roll has always indulged in a sense of theatre and Cooper epitomized this, with the creation of 'shock rock'.

Influenced by horror movies and vaudeville; guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood and snakes were added to heavy metal music to offer up not just a concert, but a show.

Now nearly 60, Cooper invites Quest to hop aboard his latest tour bus and share the highs and lows of one of rock 'n' roll's irrepressible characters.

Growing up, most of us dreamt of being a rock star at some point -- it's the ultimate persona of 'cool.' However, history is littered with talented musicians, seduced by the self-destructive lifestyle that seems to go hand in hand with the music -- the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Quest for rock 'n' roll airs Saturday September 22 at 0600, 1400 and 1900; and Sunday September 23 at 0600 and 1900 ALL TIMES GMT

Of those that live to tell the tale, few can compete with Nikki Sixx, perhaps the most notorious hell-raiser of them all.

Shortly before the publication of his new book "Heroin Diaries", Nikki tells Quest of the good old days that turned bad, as the bass player of 80s phenomenon, Motley Crue.

With the beauty of hindsight, he looks back at the drug addiction that nearly killed him and his recovery that ultimately led him to rediscover his love for music.

It's probably fair to say, rock 'n' roll is synonymous with the guitar -- if you like, the rock star's magic wand.

With this in mind, Quest visits the Iridium Club in New York City to meet American jazz guitarist and inventor, Les Paul.

Still performing at the age of 92, Paul pioneered the development of the solid body electric guitar and in doing so, created a sound that became the backbone of rock music.

A living god within the industry, Paul explains the beauty of the instrument that has defined his career and reflects on his enduring legacy to rock 'n' roll.

Then, inspired by his encounter with the godfather of guitars, Quests seeks out songwriter and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, to explore the idea of the rock anthem.

Ritchie will always be remembered for writing "Smoke on the Water," one of the most influential rock songs of all time and, arguably, the most famous guitar riff.

If rock 'n' roll is all about attitude, then Juliette Lewis, definitely has it. The Oscar-nominated actress has appeared in over 40 films but has swapped movies for music and a life on the road with her band, The Licks.

At the latest gig of her UK tour she opens up about her passion and motivation, before leaping into the audience for a bit of crowd surfing!

Finally, the show ends at the UK Air Guitar Championship finals. Let's face it, we've all done it... our chance to mimic the likes of Hendrix, Clapton or Richards and pay homage to our heroes' showmanship.


As compere for the evening, Quest will preside over an evening of anarchical entertainment, to see who's got what it takes to be a rock 'n' roll superstar.

"It's only rock 'n' roll but I like it" -- so said the Rolling Stones and it's time for Quest to find out why. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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