Thursday, April 18, 2013

The History And Roots Of Rock And Roll (Part One)

Most of you were as surprised (clueless???) as I was after this piece ran on the Forgotten Hits website yesterday ...
Kent ... 
I never heard of this guy. I was wondering if you and your readers have ever heard of him.
Frank B.
Nope ... but we've found traces of "rock and roll" dating back to the 1920's before ... so I'm not convinced that he "invented" the term. One of these days we're going to run a very special "History Of Rock And Roll" by our buddy Ed Parker, who has made this his lifetime study ... tracing back the origins of all the different rock and roll phrases and stylings we've all come to enjoy over the years. (kk)


We've got a Hardrock Gunter disc. I'll have to check this out later in the week - thanks!
Ed Parker
Here are a couple of reactions we received to yesterday's post ...

In the first item mentioned today with your FH, was the name of Hardrock Gunter. It appears that most, if not all of your readers, were not familiar with him. I would like to add my name to that list. However, when I first saw the name, Hardrock Gunter, I knew immediately that I had one record by him. The record in question is one he recorded in 1955 on King Records out of Cincinnati called I'LL GIVE EM RHYTHM.
Now, I'll be honest with you, I can't remember when, where, how, why I have the record but I do (as Clarence 'Frogman' Henry would have said.)
One final thing. If you are like me, your records are filed or categorized where you can go lay your hands on them immediately. I went to the record and got it out. I just happen to file that one record 'between a rock and hard place'.
Greetings, Kent,
Interesting story about the origins of the expression, "rock and roll." While the majority of us baby boomers would love to credit Elvis by saying his July 5, 1954 recording of "That's Alright Mama" was the first rock and roll record, others say Ike Turners' Rocket 88 beat him by a full three years.
But if you look further back -- even into the 1920's and 1930's, there are examples of the expression, rock and roll in the 1934 Boswell Sisters single, "Rock and Roll," but in that case the term was used to describe a ship at sea.
Four years later, 1938, Chuck Webb, a band leader -- featuring lead vocals by the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald -- had a swing hit, "Rock It For Me," which features the line, 'won't you satisfy my soul with your rock and roll.'
A number of years ago, when I was going through some old 1940's music magazines, I had come across the term 'rock and roll' as it pertained to a Black expression. Thus, I knew that while Alan Freed may have popularized the expression -- and tied it to the music -- he had definitely not come up with the term.
Fred Vail
Treasure Isle Recorders, Inc.
Music City, USA

Since there's been talk about "the first Rock and Roll record" I've been
going through the early years of R&R just for fun.
In my travelings on the WWW I happened to find this list and thought it
might be of some interest.
I've seen some of these on folks first R&R lists.
This is a pretty cool site ... with all kinds of topics available for perusing ... check it out when you have a chance.  (kk)
We could debate for years (and some of us already have!) the origins of both the phrase "rock and roll" and the style of music that came to be known under this expression. 
As mentioned above, Ed Parker has made it a study to trace back ALL of the true roots of rock, finding early examples of doo-wop stylings in recordings predating the mid-'50's by decades ... the early "call and response" of records like those by Ray Charles well rooted in the church ... and even Chuck Berry licks ... which have long credited Berry as the "inventor" and "innovator" ... used on other recordings years earlier.
Over time, it's been easiest to say the Elvis invented rock and roll ... but we all know this simply isn't true ... although he DID become rock's poster child and first major rock star. Many have stated that The Rock Era began the week that Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock" topped Billboard's Pop Singles Chart for the very first time. Others attribute it to the day Elvis, Scotty and Bill recorded "That's All-Right Mama" in Sam Phillips' Sun Records studio back in 1954. 
But rock music (particularly on the black music charts) dates back considerably earlier. Songs like "Good Rockin' Tonight" and "Rocket 88" are also often cited as the first rock and roll songs. 
For years now we've been promising to run the "short version" of Ed Parker's "History And Roots Of Rock And Roll" Series in Forgotten Hits. (We actually had him condense it down to one simple post, which will run tomorrow on this page.) 
Sure to spark even more debate and examples, these are facts every real rock and roll fan out there needs to know. 
So drop back tomorrow for more on this topic ... and feel free to share your thoughts and opinions with our readers, too! (kk)