Beginnings of Rock and Roll (Part one)
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 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 many references throughout my posts about these singers and for the most part guitar players. So skipping ahead a bit...
Music does not sell without money, advertising and distribution behind it, no YouTube or Spotify (speaking of big money) back then you see, so to reach the ‘white’ middle class American audience's buying power, records had to be sold, therefore the music had to transform. And so it did, but not necessarily to the betterment of all those involved.
|Albert James "Alan" Freed (December 15, 1921 – January 20, 1965)|
Quite frankly a lot of music that was very different just got lumped into the 'Rock and Roll' category because there was no other way to describe it at that time and maybe there still isn’t’. Skin colour aside this music came from a lot of places and a lot of different people. Considering some of the names I've already written about such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe there are many more pioneers and precursors to discuss.
To give some overall perspective, here is a song that for me at least shows a pretty straight line of how the music changed from the 1940’s into the early to mid 1950's.
|Arthur William "Big Boy" Crudup (August 24, 1905 – March 28, 1974)|
|Arthur Smith and his band|
Click here for a playlist of the videos in this blog
Music Trivia. Which was the first station with all-black programming in the United States? WDIA, in Memphis (1949). A Dee-Jay (Disc Jockey-later shortened to just D.J.) named B. B. King started his career there, also doing on-air performing.
I need to acknowledge https://secondhandsongs.com/ once again. You will note I put them in my references every time and mentioned them in my blog intro. Perhaps I should be a bit more diligent in pointing out each time I use information from this site, however I don't want my blog to become quite so formal as to be adding annotations and citations all the time. Virtually all the data I use on the number of covers and other song facts such as artists names and who did the originals/cover versions and verifying songwriters, comes from checking them. I cross check information as much as possible from my own collection and use many other sources but the genesis is mostly https://secondhandsongs.com/. This is truly a labour of love for a small group of volunteers and very dedicated people. https://secondhandsongs.com/page/Donate Makes what I do easier and much more informative. My thanks to them!