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Rock and Roll Part 3

Beginnings of Rock and Roll (Part three)


There has been much attention paid to the song "Rocket 88" as being the 'first' R&R song. This song was part of the evolution I've talked about, due in part because it was a very popular song at the time and because it was recorded at Sun Records studio in Memphis (and sent off to Chess Records in Chicago to become a '45' single). Sam Phillips was behind much of the fanfare about this song in his bid to be labeled the creator of R&R. Sam really was an amazing finder of talent and his Sun Records studio was instrumental in the development of R&R, but no single person or entity created R&R.
 Added to the mix was that the song was actually recorded by Ike Turner's band "Kings of Rhythm", Jackie Brenston being the Sax player had written this song and sang lead on it. Chess Records thought since he sang it they'd give him his own band on the record hence the new made up name. I'm no…

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…

Rock and Roll Part 1

Beginnings of Rock and Roll (Part one)
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.
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 influence came and still does come from the 'Delta Blues', that being artists coming from the geographic region of the Mississippi Delta. You will find may references throughout my blogs about these singers and for the most part guitar pla…

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin  A sad day for music on the passing of the Legendary Aretha Franklin. There are plenty of tributes to this amazing singer and rightfully so and if you have been reading my blog you will know I’ve mentioned her before. You will be able to read all about her career and life story elsewhere, what you may not get is a bit of the story behind songs she gave new life too and her originals that have been remade. She had covered at least 217 other songs and 45 of her original tunes have been redone by hundreds of other artists. Apart from her singular and spectacular voice she was a songwriter and a very accomplished piano player. I’ve already talked about one of her biggest hits, “Respect” and also “Chain of Fools”,but she had many more successful songs and covers of other songs. “Spanish Harlem” by Ben E. King (1960) written by Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector. The song was King’s first hit after he left the Drifters and went to #10 on the Pop and #15 on the R&B charts. http…

Cover Songs and the Law

Cover Songs and the Law (copyright)

There have been plenty of lawsuits and or settlements over someone stealing someone else’s song, whether in whole or in part, intentionally or not. Apparently you just can’t be doing that type of thing. I touched on this a bit in previous blogs and there are many examples that I’m aware of (and many I'm not) plus a few more I picked up while doing research, so perhaps a part two or three?

Without getting too technical when it comes to a person wanting to do a cover song they do not need the permission of the owner(s) or writer(s) as the case may be, of the song. There is a thing called 'Compulsory Licence' in the U.S. and similar laws internationally under the 'Berne Convention' that requires compensation be paid to said owners. So in most countries you just need to credit and pay the people who own the song or the 'publishing' rights. I'll blog about that part another time. Then there is the whole idea of  'samp…

Country Artists cover Rock songs!

Country Artists cover Rock songs

Here are some Rock songs covered by ‘Country’ artists. This certainly goes both ways, but I have found there are many more 'country' songs covered by Rock artists and I'll blog about that in the future. “Better Man” Pearl Jam, Written by Eddie Vedder Released on Vitalogy, November 22, 1994, Since their debut album ‘Ten’ in 1991, this hard rocking ‘grunge band’ has built quite the following (this one's for my nephew Evan!) this songs been covered a dozen times. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbpUfWz-rlc Sugarland, from Live on the Inside, August 4, 2009 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOt_6fcnUx8
Sugarland likes to cover rock songs; Kings of Leon-Sex on Fire, B-52's-Love Shack, R.E.M.-The one I Love.
Sunday Morning” written by John Cale, Lou Reed, recorded by The Velvet Underground & Nico Dec. 1966. Call them Rock, Avant-garde, artsy, experimental, pre-punk or whatever-they were very influential. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3…

Etta James and others 'Own' your cover (Part Two)

Artists who cover and then ‘own’ the song (Pt. 2)

I can think of few better songs to continue in this vein with (a favorite of many people, myself included) but “At Last”. Music written by Harry Warren, Lyrics written by Mack Gordon- two of the best in the business. Etta James owns this song. Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins; January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012). Ranked 22 on Rolling Stones greatest singers of all time, she has won several Grammy awards, numerous Blues Awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Blues and the Grammy Hall of Fames. Her other hits are numerous and certainly cover song blog worthy, so I’ll save them for later!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5dpYDTEMRU Recorded by Etta November 15, 1960. She would do other versions of this song, but I find her first crack at it to be the best. Not so crazy about the slide show though…but great audio.

The original is by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, September 4, 1942 here is a clip from a fr…