Sunday, November 21, 2010

And in the beginning ...

By Wayne Shelor

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 I’ve always believed the best place to start is the beginning, so this Sunday morning we’re gonna listen to the very beginning of rock.

It could be the subject matter that makes so many folks believe that “Rocket 88” was the first rock ‘n’ roll record. Of course it could be where the song was recorded, at Sam Phillips’ famous Sun Studios in Memphis. And an argument might be made that it was the participation of one Ike Turner that lends credence to “Rocket 88” being heralded as the First Record of Rock.

But whatever the legend, whatever the belief, Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats made history – and a lasting legacy and contribution – with the April 1951 release of “Rocket 88.”

The immediate popularity of “Rocket 88” heralded the beginning of a new kind of music … a lyric-laden, beat-driven integration of multiple musical roots … a type of music that was hard to define, but you knew it when you heard it. Built on a construct of standard 12-bar blues, “Rocket 88” was imbued with the sound of the ghetto: the sexual entwining of twin horns moaning, the raucousness of a wailing trumpet and the constant tickling of the other 88, the piano keys.

Almost 60 years ago, “Rocket 88” changed the way popular music was made and marketed, and this was years before white boys began writing car songs such as “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Hot Rod Lincoln,” “Pink Cadillac” “G.T.O” or even the Beatles' “Drive My Car.”

Ol’ Ike was onto somethin’ special early on. But today, we call it rock ‘n’ roll, in all its various guises and disguises.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite records is an instrumental LP that Ike Turner and the band did, probably around the early 60s, on the Sue Records label.

    It includes "Steel Guitar Rag," which I guess means that the tales about Ike being a former country deejay might be true.