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Rock and Roll Part 3

Beginnings of Rock and Roll (Part three)

"Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats, released April 1951
There has been much attention paid to the song "Rocket 88" as being the 'first' R&R song. A huge amount of writing has been done on this song and there's also very diverse opinions about it. Here is my take. First we need to acknowledge it's a great song. As of 2018 the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame added a category of single songs, "Rocket 88" was among the first group recognized. 
These are some facts:
When it came out in 1951 there were two charts published by Billboard Magazine for R&B that only tracked the top ten songs each week. The first was "Best selling retail Rhythm and Blues Singles" and it entered for the week of May 19, it hit #1 on June 9 and stayed there for three weeks. It spent a total of 17 weeks on the chart and was the 5th best record for chart performance that year. Compared to "Sixty …
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Rock and Roll Part 2

Beginnings of Rock and Roll (Part two)

Listeners of this new sound were mostly only getting it in small doses in clubs and hearing it on regional radio stations. However, smaller independent record labels were popping up between 1940 and 1950 to fill the void left by the major companies who had stopped producing “race music” which became known as R&B (Rhythm and Blues) by about mid 1940. So with this odd transformation of a type of music gaining popularity yet strangely being avoided by the major record labels, independent labels such as; Specialty, Aladdin, Modern, Swing Time, and Imperial in Los Angeles, King (Cincinnati), Peacock (Houston), Chess (Chicago), Savoy (Newark), Atlantic (New York), and many more filled a growing niche market that was about to explode. A big part of the music industry was the charting of songs by Billboard and later Cashbox. Billboard started in 1940 and by 1949 there were three categories; Pop, Country & Western and R & B. These weekly listi…

I Write the Songs

I Write the Songs  Part 1

Well I don't write the songs but I am about to feature some people who did. And yes I stole the (song) title from Captain & Tennille's "I Write the Songs" written by Beach Boy Bruce Johnson and popularized by Barry Manilow. I have talked about many singer songwriters like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Taylor Swift who are famous for writing their own songs. We know Stevie Wonder writes most of his own songs and for other artists, then there are the Springsteens and Madonna's of the world not to mention the iconic duo of Lennon and McCartney. But these artists are all known for their singing and/or instrumental talents. So today I am focusing on people who may have all these talents and more but are primarily known for songwriting.

Many will be familiar names that I have referenced in the past, some perhaps less so but at least their songs are very well known. As I am wont to do I am going to go back in time and take a bit of a chrono…

Rock and Roll Part 1

Beginnings of Rock and Roll (Part one)An updated repost, the first of a four part series

The recent passing of the legend, Little Richard has some people trying to write their own version of Rock & Roll history, so here is my take. Trying to pinpoint the first actual ‘Rock and Roll’ song in my opinion is a bit of folly. That of course has not stopped people from trying. There has been a fair bit of research into the roots of the music we know as ‘Rock and Roll’ (R&R). So what is it anyway? It’s a pretty wide umbrella of 'pop' or popular music that developed in the early 1950’s, there was no one particular style of music, but it was different than Blues, Country & Western, Swing, Big Band or Jazz which was developing at the same time.
At its heart I think (from my impressions and research) it was essentially an outgrowth of what was being identified at the time as “Rhythm and Blues” (R&B) music and formerly known as believe it or not “Race Music”. Much of the in…

Happy blogiversary!

Happy blogiversary... to me! Two Years of BloggingMay 6, 2020 Post #122

So "blogiversary" has been a real word for some time now (who knew?) and I'm not sure who came up with it, I started to use "covid-ient" on April 2 so maybe it will catch on as well! I'm pretty happy to still have an audience after blogging for this long as I had no idea when I started if anyone would read it. I came across a stat once that said as many as 95% of blogs either fail and/or are abandoned after four months. I'm not sure how much longer I will keep this going as I have other writing projects I've been neglecting (like many of us wanna-be writers) but we shall see, it is a true labour of love. The more I put into it the more I find myself caring about whether people are reading it or not. A big thank-you to my small but mighty list of 25 subscribers, I hope you still find some of my posts of interest! 

As hobby's go it is relatively inexpensive but it does cost me…

We're Number One! (almost)

We're Number one! almost, because we're number one 2!

Here are some great songs that just didn't make it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 or R&B charts.

In my post on Little Richard I commented on his breakthrough single, "Tutti Frutti" that got stalled at #2 because "Great Pretender" by 'The Platters' would not budge from the #1 spot from the beginning of January through to the week ending March 10. I've run across this before so I decided to research how many of the old classic hit songs had the same fate and just didn't get to the #1 spot. I've talked about many of these songs but when you look at the number that didn't make it is a bit surprising. And do we remember them any less for being #2? Let's show the song that kept them out of the top spot and see how it compares.

Here are the #2 songs I could find up to 1970 alone;

Jerry Lee Lewis released "Great Balls Of Fire" in 1957, recorded at Sun Studios an…

Little Richard

Little Richard
Richard Penniman was born in Macon Georgia, on December 5th, 1932, and since my blog was posted he passed May 9, 2020 at age 87. He grew up with 11 brothers and sisters and learned music from family, friends and at Church. By 1951 he had a contract with RCA Victor and cut some tracks in Atlanta. Here is his first song "Taxi Blues". He doesn't sound like the Little Richard we have come to know, but very few artists find their 'voice' on the first attempt. And so there was an evolution to his style, in 1952 he was starting to Rock it up with "Get Rich Quick". By 1953 he was still recording more traditional blues and some new material from other songwriters, such as "Ain't That Good News" credited as 'Duces Of Rhythm & Tempo Toppers' (with lead Little Richard)". But he still had not released his flashy and flamboyant style, even though his live performances were getting fairly raucous compared to the toned dow…