Thursday, February 22, 2018

Rock'n'Roll Tales Truth and Trivia

Rock'n Roll The Roots

   The religious gospel music that was developed by American slaves in the 19th century cotton field churches was the first step on the road to rock’n’roll and of all the music genres that came together to create rock’n’roll, gospel was by far the most significant. . Plantation owners were reluctant to allow their slaves to play African instruments or to sing songs from their homeland. It was in the churches that the slaves felt safe to sing their own songs. Much of the musical heritage that had been brought over from Africa was lost but the slaves developed new songs based on Christian topics but incorporating African vocal and rhythmic influences.  After the end of the American Civil War, in 1865, the slaves were freed they gained access to western instruments such as the guitar and piano, using them to great effect in the development of gospel music and its journey towards rock’n’roll. Then by the end of the 19th century white audiences were starting to experience the music through Minstrel Shows and vaudeville.

Gospel with Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Mahalia Jackson
  •  Sister Rosetta Tharpe -- March 20, 1915 to October 9, 1973 was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and recording artist. As a pioneer of mid-20th-century music, she attained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings with her unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic accompaniment that was a precursor of rock and roll. She was the first great recording star of gospel music and among the first gospel musicians to appeal to rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll audiences, later being referred to as "the original soul sister" and "the Godmother of rock and roll".

Sister Rosetta Tharpe 
Up Above My Head 

  • Mahalia Jackson -- October 26, 1911 to January 27, 1972 was an American gospel singer. Possessing a powerful voice, she was referred to as "The Queen of Gospel". "I sing God's music because it makes me feel free", Jackson once said about her choice of gospel, adding, "It gives me hope. With the blues, when you finish, you still have the blues."

Crying in the Chapel
Mahalia Jackson 

 Blues/ Clarksdale and  Juke Joints 

     Blues music and its poetry, span the globe, but its birthplace is rooted amid sharecroppers, juke joints and shacks, in the Mississippi Delta. The Delta blues is one of the earliest styles of blues music. Mississippi Delta, is a region of the United States that stretches from north to south between Memphis, Tennessee, and Vicksburg, Mississippi, and from east to west between the Yazoo River and the Mississippi River. Taking a route through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana we find the origins of juke joints. The community rooms that were occasionally built on plantations to provide a place for the slaves to socialize. The most influential aspect of juke joints was definitely the music. The music of today has many different influences, but the legacy of the juke joint is quite clear in rock'n'roll. They were often referred to as the dens of devil’s music.  Originally, the music of juke joints relied on two instruments. The fiddle and the banjo. Later the dominant instruments became the Guitar and harmonica .

 Clarksdale Musicains
Muddy Waters 
John Lee Hooker
Junior Parker 
Sam Cooke
Robert Johnson 
Howlin Wolf
Ike Turner
Checkout vintage photos of Juke Joints 

  • Junior Parker -- or Herman Parker March 27, 1932 to November 18, 1971 was a blues singer and musician. He is best remembered for his unique voice, and his song 'Mystery Train' . Herman better known as Little grew up in Clarksdale, Mississippi during the 1930s. After working with Howlin' Wolf's band he formed his own group, the Blues Flames in 1952. 
  • John Lee Hooker -- It is believed that he was born in Tutwiler, Mississippi, in Tallahatchie County, although some sources say his birthplace was near Clarksdale, in Coahoma County. He was the youngest of the 11 children of  William Hooker born 1871, died after 1923, a sharecropper and Baptist preacher, and Minnie Ramsey born 1880. John Lee Hooker August 22, 1912 – June 21, 2001 was an American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist. The son of a sharecropper, he rose to prominence performing an electric guitar-style adaptation of Delta blues. Hooker often incorporated other elements, including talking blues and early North Mississippi Hill country blues. He developed his own driving-rhythm boogie style, distinct from the 1930s–1940s piano-derived boogie-woogie.
  • Muddy Waters -- Born in McKinley Morganfield on April 4, 1915, in Issaquena County, Mississippi. When Waters was just 3 years old, his mother, Bertha Jones, died, and he was subsequently sent to Clarksdale to live with his maternal grandmother, Delia Jones. Waters grew up immersed in the Delta blues  In 1943, he moved to Chicago and began playing in clubs. A record deal followed, and hits like "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" and "Rollin' Stone" made him an iconic Chicago blues man.
  • Sam Cooke -- Born January 22, 1931, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, to a Baptist minister and his wife, Cooke’s early musical development took place in the church. Like other early figures in what would eventually be called “soul” music, Cooke began his professional career singing gospel. Sam Cooke sang with the gospel group the Soul Stirrers before going on to land huge hits like "You Send Me," "Wonderful World," "Chain Gang" and "Twistin' the Night Away." Forging a link between soul and pop, he had a diverse repertoire that attracted both black and white audiences, and started his own record label and publishing company. Cooke died on December 11, 1964. When in response to a reported shooting, officers of the Los Angeles Police Department were dispatched to the Hacienda Motel, where they found Sam Cooke dead on the office floor, shot three times in the chest by the motel’s manager, Bertha Franklin. The authorities ruled Cooke’s death a case of justifiable homicide, based on the testimony of Ms. Franklin, who claimed that Cooke had threatened her life after attempting to rape a young woman with whom he had earlier checked in.
  • Ike Turner -- R&B legend Ike Turner was born on November 5, 1931, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and grew up playing the blues. In 1956, he met a teenager and singer named Anna Mae Bullock. He married her and helped create her stage persona, Tina Turner. The two became the Ike & Tina Turner Revue and created several R&B hits, including "I Idolize You," "It's Going to Work Out Fine" and "Poor Fool." The duo's cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary" earned them their first and only Grammy Award together in 1971. Their last hit together was "Nutbush City Limits," written by Tina and released in 1973. Turner died of a cocaine overdose on December 12, 2007, in San Marcos, California.
Rocket 88 Ike Turner  

Country / Rockabilly and the
Answer Songs  
  In the late 1940's , American radio stations began to play blues and gospel music which inspired young white working class musicians in areas where there was a large African/American population. The young artists started mixing the sound with the country music style they were familiar with, like Western Swing,Hillbilly , Bluegrass, and Honky Tonk. It was originally labelled Country and Western Rhythm and Blues and then later Rockabilly.

     It was in 1954 when Elvis Presley and the Blue Moon Boys started touring the southern states .bringing their style of Rockabilly which inspired even more artists like Buddy Holly, Marty Robbins,Brenda Lee and Wanda Jackson to turn to this new sound. The boys may not have been the originators of this genre of music but they certainly got many artists hooked with their sound. Scotty Moores, Electric Guitar , Bill Blacks slap back Bass and Elvis on rhythm guitar.

Hound Dog and the Answer Song  
The concept became widespread in blues and R&B recorded music in the 1930s through 1950s. Answer songs were also extremely popular in country music in the 1950s and 1960s, most often as female responses to an original hit by a male artist.
    In 1952 saw the original release of Big Mama Thornton's, Hound Dog on Peacock Records which was written by Leiber and Stoller. One of the most prolific songwriting teams of the fifties rock era. It reached number 1 in 1953, and there were six answer songs in response. The most successful of these was "Bear Cat", by Rufus Thomas which reached number 3 and "Mr Hound Dog Man" by Roy Brown. "Bear Cat", released on Sam Phillips Sun label caused him plenty of headaches legally, with a successful copyright lawsuit of $35,000 and by the end of 1955, Sam was in a lot of financial trouble and this is believed to be the main reason, Elvis Presley's recording contract was sold to RCA. I find it quite ironic Presley's, recording, of "Hound Dog" in 1956 went on to become the biggest selling hit of his career and reached number one on country,pop, rhythm and blues charts across the country.

Bear Cat Rufus Thomas

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