Discussion in 'GatorTail Pub' started by GatorGrowl, Mar 7, 2018.
I was two, the wife was unborn, but here is Paris
Elvis - Country and "Bop."
Rock and Roll wasn't even a term back then.
Actually, I may be incorrect. It may have been in use by Allen Freed in Cleveland in the early 50's, although evidence is sketchy. It definitely was not widespread, though.
The list of serious pretenders to the title of first rock'n'roll song (not just a title referencing the act of "rocking") begins with The Fat Man (1949), cut by Antoine "Fats" Domino, a New Orleans performer, which certainly sounded like a new kind of boogie. The man who is commonly credited with inventing the term "rock'n'roll" is a white Cleveland disc-jockey, Alan Freed, who in 1951 decided to speculate on the success of Leo Mintz's store and started a radio program, "Moondog Rock'n'Roll Party", that broadcasted black music to an audience of white teenagers. Other white disc-jockeys had done and were doing the same thing, but it was Freed's enthusiasm for black music that became contagious. That same year Ike Turner's Rocket 88 (1951) was definitely rock'n'roll (although an adaptation of Pete Johnson's instrumental Rocket 88 Boogie of 1949). And that same year Gunter Lee Carr cut the dance novelty We're Gonna Rock. Therefore, everybody was already "rocking". Alas, they were mostly black, i.e. distributed only locally.
The record industry was aware that a new music was being created by the blacks, and tried to exploit it with Bill Haley. His success proved that there was an audience for that music, and it was an audience desperate for anything that would play that music.
White people had the money, but black people were making the most exciting music. This created a niche for independent labels recording black artists for the white audience, but it could never become a mass market. The USA was still largely a racially-divided country. There was little chance that a black singer could become as popular as, say, Frank Sinatra. When Sam Phillips founded Sun Records in Memphis (Tennessee), he made the famous statement "If I could find a white man who sings with the Negro feel, I'd make a million dollars".
In 1952 a white singer, Bill Haley, formed the Comets, which can be considered the first rock'n'roll band. 1952 is also the year in which Bob Horn's "Bandstand" tv program (which in 1956 would become Dick Clark's "American Bandstand") began airing from Philadelphia every weekday afternoon, and the year in which Alan Freed (now more famous as "Moondog") organized the first rock'n'roll concert, the "Moondog Coronation Ball". And the year in which the first rock'n'roll song to enter the Billboard charts was Bill Haley's Crazy Man Crazy in 1953. At the same time, Sam Phillips was recording the first Elvis Presley record in his Sun studio, using two recorders to produce the effect of "slapback" audio delay that would become the typical sound of rockabilly.
Strongly recommend the CMT docudrama about Sun Records. Entertaining, relatively accurate historically and the actors cast as the artists are rather convincing. Description from the website.
Set in Memphis during the tumultuous early days of the civil rights movement, Sun Records tells the untold story of nothing less than the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Guided by Sam Phillips, young musicians like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis combined the styles of hillbilly country with the 1950s R&B sound created by artists like Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Fats Domino and Ike Turner, and changed the course of music forever. The series chronicles these young artists’ often jarring and sudden meteoric rise to fame in the face of sweeping political change and social unrest.
All of the episodes are available online
Trailer for the series
Rock'n'roll was certainly not the only thing to happen to the USA music scene in those post-World War II years. The sentiment of euphoria was contagious. Hank Williams reached the top of the country charts in 1949, and turned country music into a serious art. Howlin' Wolf (out of Memphis) and Joe Turner (out of Kansas City) were popularizing the aggressive blues style of the "shouters". In 1952 Roscoe Gordon, a Memphis pianist, invented the "ska" beat with No More Doggin'. Charles Brown's Hard Times (1952) was the first hit by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to enter the charts, and marked the beginning of a new era for pop music. The Orioles' Crying in the Chapel (1953) was the first black hit to top the white pop charts. The following year saw the boom of a new kind of black vocal harmony, doo-wop, inaugurated by the Penguins' Earth Angel (1954) and by the Platters' Only You (1955).
Technological innovations laid the groundwork for further stylistic innovations. In 1952 Gibson introduced its solid-body electric guitar, invented by Les Paul a few years earlier, and the following year Leo Fender introduced the Stratocaster guitar (that he had invented in 1950). In the meantime, since 1951 the first juke-box machines that played 45 RPM records had begun to spread in every corner of the USA.
In 1954 all the record companies switched from 78 RPMs to 45 RPMs: the 78 RPM was dead, and the 45 RPM came to symbolize a new era of prosperity and fun. That same year a Japanese electronic company, TTK (later renamed Sony), introduced the last thing that was missing to turn popular music into a universal language: the world's first transistor radio. The new, cheaper gramophones and the portable radios caused a musical revolution of their own in the way people (especially young people) listened to music. The masses were now able to listen to music when they wanted and where they wanted.
Bill Haley's Rock Around The Clock (1954), written in 1953 by James Myers and Max Freedman (both white) for a boogie group, was the first rock song used in a movie soundtrack. Bill Haley was the most unlikely "teen idol" (he was almost 30), and that song sounded like a novelty number, not a revolutionary anthem, but that was the song that turned rock'n'roll into a nation-wide phenomenon. Two films of 1955, "Rebel Without A Cause" and "Blackboard Jungle", established a new role model for teenagers: the rebellious loner and sometimes juvenile delinquent (not exactly the role model that their parents would have liked for them).
There was a real backlash against the whole rock n roll movement in the early years.
Part of it was racism.
Part of it was adults resisting the emerging teenager power and cultural base.
Part of the backlash was religious parents and conservatives resisting this "sinful" and sexual music.
The early tv broadcasts of Elvis only showed him from the waist up when he was singing.
He was called ‘Elvis the Pelvis’ and ‘swivel hips’ for the onstage gyrations that drove his female fans to distraction.
THE Jimmy Work?
And THE Betty Amos?
I was a couple of months short of being a Serious Gleam in my Father's Eyes!