Skip to main content


Guitarist Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen performs during the 2015 Billboard Music Awards. Val Halen died on October 6 at the age of 65. (Getty Images photo)

Van Halen’s ‘deep roots in rock’

In an opinion article for CNN, rock historian John Covach writes that behind Eddie Van Halen’s “blistering guitar solos” was an “exceptional musical gift and keen pop intelligence.”

Learn More
Album cover art.

Sgt. Pepper’s lasting impact, 50+ years later

“Ironically, an album that might not strictly speaking have been a concept album ended up being the most influential concept album in the history of rock music,” says John Covach, professor of music and director of the Institute for Popular Music.

Read More
Chuck Berry playing guitar.

The core of Chuck Berry’s legacy

Rock ‘n roll legend Chuck Berry died on March 18 at the age of 90. In this essay in Macleans, rock historian John Covach remembers what made Berry iconic in a era of song stylists, covers, and lyric sanitization.

Read More
George Michael holding out a microphone.

Much more than a teen idol

John Covach, rock historian and director of the University’s Institute for Popular Music, summarized Michael’s impact on and influence in an essay for CNN.

Read More

John Covach, Director

Advisory Board Members

Lori Burns, University of Ottawa
Walter Everett, University of Michigan
Susan Fast, McMaster University
Andrew Flory, Carleton College
Robert Fink, University of California, Los Angeles
Daniel Harrison, Yale University
Portia Maultsby, Indiana University
Allan Moore, University of Surrey
Jocelyn Neal, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Guthrie Ramsey, University of Pennsylvania
Mark Spicer, Hunter College, City University of New York
Rob Wegman, Princeton University
Albin Zak, University of Albany

University of Rochester

Faculty Associates

Daniel Beaumont, Religion and Classics
John Covach, Music Department and Eastman School of Music
Harold Danko, Eastman School of Music
John Fetter, Eastman School of Music
Kim Kowalke, Music Department and Eastman School of Music
Jennifer Kyker, Music Department and Eastman School of Music
Bruce Pilato, Music Department
Jason Titus, Music Department


Fragile and More

A Performance of Yes's Classic 1971 Album and More

This concert will celebrate the breakthrough album for English progressive rockers, Yes. Performed by Going for the One, along with staff, faculty and students from Eastman and the College, this concert in Eastman's historic Kilbourn Hall and in conjunction with the Rochester Fringe Festival will feature the music of Fragile plus additional Yes selections. Click on In Performance for details.


The University of Rochester offers thirty one courses in popular music, ranging from American Musical Theater to Sound Design.
Learn more >

IPM Director

John Covach Playing Guitar

John Covach
College Music Department and Eastman School of Music

A Message from the Director

Support the UR Institute for Popular Music. Learn how >