The 1st Rock N Roll song.

When you think of the first Rock N Roll stars, you think of the names of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley and Chuck Berry. Yet none of these rock giants could claim that they recorded the first Rock N Roll hit.

That honor actually goes to Ike Turner.

“Rocket 88” was first recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, in March 1951. The recording was credited to “Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats”, who were actually Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm. The single reached number-one on the Billboard R&B chart.

In 1951, Ike Turner walked into Sam Phillips’ studio in Memphis and, along with his band, helped create a sound that still echoes through history like thunder across the sky. The original song they recorded, Rocket 88, may well have been the first rock ‘n’ roll record, and in the years that followed, innumerable music reference sources, from The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (“frequently cited as the first rock & roll record”) to the website of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (“widely considered the first rock and roll record”), have backed up that title.

In 1991, after a great deal of debate, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognized this as the first rock and roll song ever recorded. Turner was in jail at the time for cocaine possession, so his daughter accepted the award.

The song was a hymn of praise to the joys of the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 automobile which had recently been introduced, and was based on the 1947 song “Cadillac Boogie” by Jimmy Liggins. It was also preceded and influenced by Pete Johnson’s “Rocket 88 Boogie” Parts 1 and 2, an instrumental, originally recorded for the Los Angeles-based Swing Time Records label in 1949.

Turner wasn’t the lead vocalist on Rocket 88 — his saxophone player, Jackie Brenston was — and the record was released under Brenston’s name. Exactly who wrote the song, Brenston or Turner along with the band, is a matter of dispute (Turner has said his name was left off because he had another record coming out). The only thing that’s certain is that it took many people to create the song, including the canny, visionary producer Phillips.

Time published this review of the record:

“Rocket 88 was brash and it was sexy; it took elements of the blues, hammered them with rhythm and attitude and electric guitar, and reimagined black music into something new. If the blues seemed to give voice to old wisdom, this new music seemed full of youthful notions. If the blues was about squeezing cathartic joy out of the bad times, this new music was about letting the good times roll. If the blues was about earthly troubles, the rock that Turner’s crew created seemed to shout that the sky was now the limit.”

It is a pity that Ike Turner is now mainly remembered as Tian Turner’s abusive husband. But I suppose sometimes you have to separate the art from the person .

sources

http://content.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,661084,00.html

https://stacker.com/stories/4280/100-iconic-moments-music-history

https://www.songfacts.com/facts/ike-turner/rocket-88

Sister Rosetta Tharpe-Hail,Hail Rock N Roll.

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I hang my head in shame. For decades I have been boasting about my knowledge of all things music, and especially rock music,when suddenly it hits me like a wet fish in the face, I KNOW NOTHING.

Well that might be too harsh but the fact is I had never heard of one of the founders of Rock and Roll before,Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

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Chuck Berry borrowed her guitar stylings. Little Richard said she was responsible for his career. Elvis was influenced by her. Who was the real Sister Rosetta Tharpe?

Born Rosetta Nubin in Cotton Plant, Arkansas in 1915, the young prodigy was performing gospel music with her mother at churches and revivals by age six, when the two moved north to Chicago. Tharpe’s singing and guitar style developed with both rural and urban elements, which gave her a broad appeal. In her teens, she married a preacher, who she soon left, heading to New York CIty. There, she played with Duke Ellington and other top musicians. By her twenties, she’d hit her stride; after years working up north with swing bandleader Lucky Millinder, she toured the south with fellow gospel icons the Dixie Hummingbirds. In 1945, her jaunty single “Strange Things Happening Every Day,” with its hot guitar solo, was the first gospel single to cross over on the Billboard race charts.

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In 1946 Tharpe saw Marie Knight perform at a Mahalia Jackson concert in New York. Tharpe recognized a special talent in Knight. Two weeks later, Tharpe showed up at Knight’s doorstep, inviting her to go on the road. They toured the gospel circuit for a number of years, during which they recorded hits such as “Up Above My Head” and “Gospel Train”. Though dismissed by both artists as gossip, several in the Gospel community speculated that Knight and Tharpe maintained a romantic and sexual relationship.

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Tharpe’s relationship with Knight eventually faded, and in 1951 – over two decades before Sly Stone thought to get hitched in Madison Square Garden – Tharpe got married to her third husband in Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. The concert and promotional stunt drew 25,000, many with gifts.

Tharpe’s career waned over the next decade. In 1964, as the folk revival was cresting, she was booked for the Folk Blues and Gospel Caravan tour in England, and she played a famous gig in an abandoned railroad station that was broadcast nationwide by Granada television. It was a cold and rainy day, but Tharpe got out of a horse-drawn carriage like royalty, strode across the wet platform, picked up her electric guitar, plugged in, and played “Didn’t It Rain,” electrical-shock risk apparently be damned, soloing and singing her heart out in front of a crowd of young people.

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Tharpe’s career didn’t get the same bump that male blues musicians did in the late Sixties and Seventies, no doubt in part because of her devotion to religious material. Her last known recording was in 1970, for Danish TV, singing the Thomas Dorsey gospel standard “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” a song Elvis Presley had recorded, among many others.

Tharpe’s performances were curtailed by a stroke in 1970, after which one of her legs was amputated as a result of complications from diabetes.On October 9, 1973, the eve of a scheduled recording session, she died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a result of another stroke. She was buried in Northwood Cemetery in Philadelphia.

On April 14 2018, she will be inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame together with Bon Jovi, The Cars, Dire Straits, The Moody Blues, and Nina Simone.

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