|Howlin' Wolf and band in the 1960's|
Since I started the series in 1970, I thought I should go back to the birth of rock ''n' roll in the 1950's and the explosion of rock 'n' roll in the 1960's with lots of treasure to mine into playlists.
In 2019, I wrote a blog called, Rock 'n' Roll: The Classic Generation 1940-1950. I started that blog by identifying three essential groups of musicians:
- The Founding Generation of Rock 'n' Roll born in 1910-1925;
- The Pioneering Generation of Rock 'n' Roll born in 1925-1940;
- The Classic Generation born between 1940-1950.
The Classic Generation includes all the musicians in: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Cream, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, just to name a few...
I thought I should go back to 1940-1950 where this classic generation of rock 'n' rollers as World War II babies and children, absorbed the music of the day from their parent's radios and records.
|Sun Records, Memphis Tennessee|
January 3, 1950
Sam Phillips launches Sun Records at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee.
Many music writers acknowledge Rocket 88's importance in the development of rock and roll music, with several considering it to be the first rock and roll record.
Freed, familiar with the music of earlier decades, used the phrase 'rock and roll' to describe the music he aired over station WJW (850 AM).
Several sources suggest that Freed discovered the term (a euphemism for sexual intercourse) on the record "Sixty Minute Man" by Billy Ward and his Dominoes. The lyrics include the line, "I rock 'em, roll 'em all night long". Freed did not acknowledge the suggestion about that source (or the original meaning of the expression) in interviews, and explained the term as follows: "Rock ’n roll is really swing with a modern name. It began on the levees and plantations, took in folk songs, and features blues and rhythm".
- Rock Awhile is a song by American singer-songwriter Goree Carter, recorded in April 1949 for the Freedom Recording Company in Houston, Texas. The song was released as the 18-year-old Carter's debut single (with "Back Home Blues" as the B-side) shortly after recording. The track is considered by many sources to be the first rock and roll song, and has been called a better candidate than the more commonly cited "Rocket 88", which was released two years later. And, I would agree with that assessment making it my first song to start this playlist.
- Move It On Over (1947) Hank Williams. Often cited as one of the earliest examples of rock 'n' roll music. I thought I'd insert it here. The influence of Folk and Country music is unmistakeable to the birth of rock 'n' roll. Hank was right there.
- Rock The Joint (1949) Jimmy Preston & His Prestonians. Another contender for first rock 'n' roll song, there are hundreds and the playlist here is just a sample of the power of R&B and its influence towards rock 'n' roll.
- Rollin' Stone - (1950), Muddy Watters - In 1962 Brian Jones takes the title of this song and names his band, 'Rollin' Stones', then changed to 'Rolling Stones', then finally 'The Rolling Stones.' Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf had a friendly rivalry as both were fearless leaders in the Chicago Blues sound.
- Rocket 88- (1951) The original version of the twelve-bar blues song was credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, which hit number one on the R&B charts. Brenston was Ike Turner's saxophonist and the Delta Cats were actually Turner's Kings of Rhythm back-up band, who rehearsed at the Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Brenston sang the lead vocal and is listed as the songwriter, although Turner led the band and is said to have been the actual composer of the song.
- Sixty Minute Man is a rhythm and blues (R&B) record released in 1951 by Billy Ward and his Dominoes. It was written by Billy Ward and Rose Marks and was one of the first R&B hit records to cross over to become a hit on the pop charts. It is regarded as one of the most important of the recordings that helped generate and shape rock and roll.
- Good Night Irene - (1950) 13 weeks at #1 in the U.S. - The Weavers. The song was written by Lead Belly a great influence to the American folk music revival movement in the late 50's and early 60's.
- Down in the Bottom (Written by the great Blues songwriter, Willie Dixon) - Howlin' Wolf
- If You’ve Got The Money I’ve Got The Time (1950) Lefty Frizzell. And you thought Willie Nelson wrote that song. Willie loves Lefty Frizzell.
- Move - (1950) Birth of the Cool - Miles Davis. The man was miles ahead his whole life.
- Rollin' & Tumblin' - (1950) Muddy Waters. Muddy made it a classic, and in the middle to late 60's he and Howlin' Wolf would be playing songs like this to a whole new generation of fans via rock 'n' roll bands from England.
- Hey, Good Lookin' - (1951) 8 weeks at #1 C&W charts - Hank Williams
- The Thrill is Gone (1951) Roy Hawkins. B.B. King makes this a #1 hit song in 1970, a magical time when some of the Blues greats finally got their due.
- How High the Moon (1951) 9 weeks at #1 in the U.S. - Les Paul & Mary Ford
- Unforgettable - (1950) Only #14 in the U.S. Later in 1961 Nat King Cole would record the song again and it became his biggest song.
- Cold Cold Heart (1951) #1 Country & Western charts - Hank Williams
- Walkin' Blues (1950) Muddy Waters. England is listening and learning.
- Moanin' at Midnight (1951) Howlin' Wolf. England is listening and learning.
- Keith Richards and Mick Jagger became childhood friends and classmates in 1950 in Dartford, Kent, England
- 1950 in Music
- 1950 in Country Music
- 1951 in Music
- Origins of rock and roll
- Sam Phillips
- Sun studio
- Chess Records
- Rock Awhile
- Rock The Joint
- Rocket 88
- Chicago Blues
- Howlin' Wolf
- Muddy Waters
- Alan Freed
- Brian Jones