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Amazing Rock and Roll Facts

Key Recordings: 1930sAlan's Rock & Roll FUN Trivia.  Trivia powered by ABE.

  • …that "Standing on the Corner (Blue Yodel No. 9)" by Jimmie Rodgers, recorded on July 16, 1930, was one of a series of recordings made by the biggest early star of country music in the late 1920s and early 1930s, based on blues songs he had heard on his travels. "Blue Yodel No. 9" was recorded with an uncredited Louis Armstrong (cornet) and Lil Armstrong (piano), foreshadowing later collaborations between black and white musicians but which at the time were almost unprecedented.

  • …that "Tiger Rag" by The Washboard Rhythm Kings (later known as the Georgia Washboard Stompers), recorded in 1932, was a virtually out of control performance, with a rocking washboard and unusually high energy. It opens with a repeated one-note guitar lick that would transform into a chord in the hands of Robert Johnson, T-Bone Walker and others. This is just one of many recordings by spasm bands, jug bands, and skiffle groups that have the same wild, informal feel that early rock and roll had. After the original recording by the Original Dixieland Jass Band in 1917, "Tiger Rag" had become not only a jazz standard, but was also widely covered in dance band and march orchestrations.

  • …that "Good Lord (Run Old Jeremiah)" by Austin Coleman with Joe Washington Brown, from 1934, was a frenzied and raucous ring shout recorded by John and Alan Lomax in a church in Jennings, Louisiana, with the singer declaiming "I'm going to rock, you gonna rock...I sit there and rock, I sit there and rock, yeah yeah yeah."' Music historian Robert Palmer wrote that "the rhythmic singing, the hard-driving beat, the bluesy melody, and the improvised, stream-of-consciousness words... all anticipate key aspects of rock 'n roll as it would emerge some 20 years later."

  • …that "Oh! Red" by The Harlem Hamfats, recorded on April 18, 1936, was a hit record made by a small group of jazz and blues musicians assembled by J. Mayo Williams for the specific purpose of making commercially successful dance records. Viewed at the time (and subsequently by jazz fans) as a novelty group, the format became very influential, and the group's recordings included many with sex and drugs references.

  • …that "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom" (recorded on November 23, 1936), "Crossroad Blues" (recorded on November 27, 1936), and other recordings by Robert Johnson, while not particularly successful at the time, directly influenced the development of Chicago blues and, when reissued in the 1960s, also strongly influenced later rock musicians.

  • …that "One O'Clock Jump" by Count Basie, arranged by Eddie Durham and recorded on July 7, 1937, was based on a 12-bar blues that builds in rhythmic intensity and features, like many of Basie's other records, the rhythm section of Jo Jones (drums), Walter Page (bass), and Freddie Green (rhythm guitar) that "all but invented the notion of swing through their innovations". "Sing, Sing, Sing" by Benny Goodman, also from 1937, written by Louis Prima, featured repeated drum breaks by Gene Krupa, whose musical nature and high showmanship presaged rock and roll drumming.

  • …that "Rock Me" by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, recorded on October 31, 1938, was important not only for its lyrical content, but for its style. Many later rock and roll stars, including Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard, cited Tharpe's singing, electric guitar playing, and energetic performance style as an influence. Tharpe performed the song with pianist Albert Ammons at the From Spirituals to Swing concert presented by John Hammond in Carnegie Hall on December 23, 1938. She also re-recorded the song with Lucky Millinder's band in 1942, when columnist Maurie Orodenker described her vocals as "rock-and-roll spiritual singing".

  • …that "Ida Red" by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, recorded in 1938 by a Western swing band, featuring electric guitar by Eldon Shamblin. The tune was recycled again some years later by Chuck Berry in "Maybellene".

  • …that "Roll 'Em Pete" by Pete Johnson and Joe Turner, recorded on December 30, 1938, was an up-tempo, non-swung boogie woogie with a hand-clapping backbeat and a collation of blues verses.

  • …that "Rocking The Blues" by the Port of Harlem Jazz Men, a group comprising Frank Newton, J. C. Higginbotham, Albert Ammons, Teddy Bunn, John Williams and Sidney Catlett, was an upbeat instrumental issued in 1939 as Blue Note no. 3.

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