“Rock n’ Roll is here to stay. It will never die.” From Danny and the Juniors.
As time rolls around so many things change. People walk on the moon. TV’s show color. Cars are made all over the world. AMERICAN cars are even made all over the world. On and on things change as the world turns. But there are things that stay pretty constant…MUSIC and specifically TEEN music and grownups reaction to it. As Rock n’ Roll hit the charts way back in the fifties music took on a new face. People like Eddie Fisher (a card carrying creep) were moved aside for a newer sound. Faster paced music with loud voices and instruments moved in. Concert pianists were shoved aside and replaced by showy, key-banging musicians who performed with a vengeance. Pretty sure that this music was the cause of so many fathers to go bald as they pulled out their hair from hearing their kids blasting it all over the house.
So the fifties roared in and the new sound and its stars took over. And stars they were. Here we are now some 70 years later and they are still stars. Pioneers who blazed musical trails and defined a whole new generation who believed in pony tails, poodle skirts, greasy hair (remember Wildroot?) and Lucky Strikes. And so, here we go. Down memory lane in a ‘57 Chevy. These are some of the best artists and songs of that early musical era in no particular order. See how many you can remember.
BILL HALEY AND THE COMETS
Originally formed back in 1947, this group recorded what became an anthem for early Rock n’ Roll tennyboppers. From ‘54 to ‘56 they recorded 9 top twenty singles with three making the top ten. But it was “Rock Around the Clock” that defined this group as it hit number one on the charts, the first of this genre to do so, and was the biggest selling single for several years. Even though they were clean cut boys, I imagine mom and dad’s reaction at just the thought of rockin’ around the clock!
This tall, skinny bespectacled performer actually didn’t hit the charts until about 1957 with his band, The Crickets. “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be the Day” were played and replayed on every AM radio station, probably more than any two songs ever were up until that time. Funny though that this overnight sensation was actually a few years in the making. He first appeared on local television in 1952 and opened for acts like Elvis in 1955. His tragic death in 1959 in a plane crash was further immortalized by Don McLean’s song, “American Pie. Have to say though, mom and dad may have liked his music. It was good to dance to but not so loud.
UH-OH!! Often described, and rightly so, as the architect of Rock n’ Roll, his career began in the mid 1950’s and his most celebrated works are still popular and have been covered by most bands, even today’s. His showmanship was legendary and was characterized by mad, mad piano playing, a powerful and VERY up-tempo beat and a raspy voice that could be heard blocks away. Hits like “Tutti-Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally” were instant hits and resulted in both white and black teens mixed in the same audience for probably the first time. This began dad’s rant of “TURN OFF THAT JUNGLE MUSIC AND GET OUTTA HERE!!”
Elvis was popular with the girls as soon as he hit the stage. The King had it all, good looks, personality and above all, talent. No list is complete without him. Songs like “Hound Dog”, “Jailhouse Rock”, and “Love Me Tender” (from the movies. Like he needed a movie!) left girls crying and screaming as they worshiped at his feet. He also had a sex appeal that no one before could brag about. His act was complete with moving hips which were not allowed. On his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show he was shown only from the waist up. But he would have been a flash if he could not flat out sing. And he did as he crossed over to soul, gospel and a number of Christmas albums. Probably the best pure Rock n’ Roll voice of them all.
Nicknamed the Father of Rock n’ Roll Chuck had charisma like few others. He could sing and play the guitar like no one before him. And he could do it all while doing his famous duck walk. Hits like “Maybelline”, “Roll Over Beethoven”, and “Johnny B. Goode” rocked the house as he focused on teen life and guitar solos. A great guitar player, he was a major influence on later rock music. His life was not without incident, as he did time for armed robbery and tax evasion. He was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame when it opened in 1986. Always included highly on lists of great and influential artists, he achieved another level of fame. His rendition of “Johnny B. Goode” is the only Rock n’ Roll song traveling through space on Voyager. Dad is just as happy about that.
“While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together. It was his particular genius to graft country & western guitar licks onto a rhythm & blues chassis in his very first single, “Maybellene”.”
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
There you have it. With apologies to people like Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis and so many others, but I just can’t get them all in. Perhaps another time. For now, put on your blue suede shoes, get your best pal and let’s go to the hop!
6 thoughts on “THE BIRTH OF ROCK n’ ROLL”
Such great memories. I was too young to really remember some of these but it was a great read!
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It’s funny how we (as humanity) sometimes react new things, no? I recently saw an article (https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zv2bscw) that quoted a review from the Times in 1816:
“We remarked with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced at the English court on Friday last… it is quite sufficient to cast one’s eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs and close compressors on the bodies in their dance, to see that is is indeed far removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females.” 😛
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Talk about a blast from the past! I am loving that my 8 year old grandson is singing songs from the 80’s! I really enjoyed this post!
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Thank you so much! Please tell all your friends. I need followers!
definitely these are timeless classics! tx for sharing!