Skip to main content

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 listings consisted of the songs most played by Disc Jockeys, plus record shop sales and plays on Jukeboxes. This had created a buzz around the music. There is little debate that the numbers used by Billboard were not particularly accurate in the early days as Record Company sales were proprietary, nevertheless everyone loved reading the lists and getting your song on it and moving up the charts became an obsession.

When the 45 r.p.m. record (created by RCA Records) came on the market in 1949, soon followed by the portable record player, teenagers could now listen in their bedrooms, basements and garages free from the family phonograph player and their parents Classical, Country, Big Band, Latin and if they were at all hip maybe some Jazz music. 'Singles' as they were called had the one song that was being promoted and another song on the ‘flip side’ later to be referred to as the “A” side and the “B” side.
When a single was a hit on the Billboard charts, Pop or R&B it led directly to increased sales of this new format of music consumption, here are some more songs that were part of the early formation of ‘R&R'.
  “Rock the Joint” written by Doc Bagby, Fats Crafton, Don Keane and performed by Jimmy Preston and His Prestonians, recorded May 1949.
Bill Haley with The Saddlemen in April 1952.
Reverend Horton Heat in 1996.
We're Gonna Rock” written and performed by William Moore and know as 'Wild Bill' Moore. Released in 1948. Reportedly the first song played by Alan Freed on his radio show.

We're Gonna Rock” – same song interpreted by Cecil Gant in 1950, Grant eliminated the sax and used a piano adding some electric guitar. For me this transforms the song and makes it another early influencer of 'Rock and Roll' music. A personal observation, this was a part of a not so deliberate trend to weed out the use of the Saxophone as a main instrument in 'Rock and Roll' and a sad thing at that.
Wild Bill would also write and release a song called “Rock and Roll” in 1949 with Scatman Crothers (later of movie and tv fame) singing lead vocals.
Somewhat odd I think that I can’t find a cover version of this song that for me is very influential. 
Here are a couple more pioneering songs.
Junker Blues” written and performed by Champion Jack Dupree, 1940, produced by one of the pioneers in recording black musicians, Okeh Records out of New York City. They produced songs from Mammie Smith, Lois Armstrong and Canadian born Shelton Brooks who would compose may successful songs including “Some of these Days”, released in 1911 with Sophie Tucker and covered over 165 times.
The Fat Man” written by Dave Bartholomew, Fats Domino, Champion Jack Dupree
Performed by Fats Domino, Recorded Dec. 10, 1949, released February 1950 by one of the early independent record labels, Imperial. An adaptation of Dupree’s song with a bit of a fuller sound, and one of the earliest ‘Rock and Roll’ songs. This song came up several times in my research, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit though familiar with the song it was not in my library of more than 40 Fats Domino songs.

Music Trivia: Where did the number ‘45’ come from anyway? The original record speed was 78 rpm and the newer format was 33 rpm, the even newer format was simply 78-33=45!

If you like my blog, please consider clicking the ‘Subscribe’ button at the top right hand of the home page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well! And many thanks as always for reading my blog!


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs

25 of the Greatest Cover Songs

Nothing quite grabs the attention more than a list of the greatest this or that, so at 85 posts about cover songs I thought it about time to get to it. As I advised with my other 'Greatest' posts we all have our favorites so anytime there is a list, something or someone 'great' gets left off. And the debate ensues, why is this and that at #11 not #4 and vise versa. My list therefore, shall be no different for it is not scientific but subjective and it is biased by my own tastes and exposure to music. Having said that it's hard for me to have missed many of the truly great cover songs of all time, indeed I think I've talked about quite a few:


"Respect" from the writer and original recording Otis Redding and a cover she made her own, the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. More about the song and Aretha in these posts. Before I get to some cover's I've not mentioned, here are more songs from my previous issues that are …

Nina Simone

Central Park Blues” (1958) written by Nina Simone. From her debut album 'Little Girl Blue'. While best remembered for her vocal talents, Nina shows off her considerable chops at the piano.


On the same album her cover of  "I Loves You Porgy" from the opera 'Porgy and Bess' (George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin). This would be her highest ranking hit on Billboard at #18 on the Pop chart and #5 on the R&B. The video clip shows how brilliant she was and how effortless her piano playing appears, she was quite remarkable.

Born in North Carolina, Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003) she was a student at the Juilliard School of Music. She changed her name when she was performing in nightclubs in Atlantic City, which is when she started to add vocals to her piano playing. She was really only interested in classical music and studies, so performing using pop music and later recording (income) was used to pursue just that.

My Baby Just Cares fo…

Happy Independence Day (updated)

Happy Independence Day/4th of July to our American Cousins! Seems appropriate we ( July 1, in Canada) have our birthdays so close together. And a hello to my new readers from blogarama.com!



When it comes to cover songs, I will never run out of blog ideas from the south, particularly when it comes to the roots of the blues, country and rock. Today I wanted to find some songs about the USA that focus on a Patriotic theme (not hard to find) but also have been a) covered by other artists and b) some that are not necessarily as 'pro' or at least painting a not so positive light on an aspect of American society and c) have been perhaps mis-interpreted by some.
Born in the U.S.A.” written by Bruce Springsteen from the album of the same name released in June 1984. My youngest sister and I went to see Bruce at the CNE stadium during this tour in July 1985, as always with Bruce, a great show. I have attached a link that includes lyrics, so you can see that this song is not very compl…