Did You Know?...That
Amazing Rock and Roll Facts
Key Recordings: 1930s
…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.