Wednesday, April 15, 2015

1950's Rock, B: The 70's Disciples

How the original 1950's Rock styles remained strong through each decade!
(#2 of 6 parts)

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now brings you the actual, all-inclusive holistic history of Rock'n'Soul music each week.

History Checklist

Today, the story of how 50's Rock'n'Roll was revived in 1970's music and film!!
Hear an exhaustive music player, with worldwide artists maintaining the 50's styles from 1970 through 1979!

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50's Rock disciples: '70-79
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All songs in order from 1970 through 1979.

1950's Rock, A: The 60's Disciples

The upshot:

The 1950's Rock styles returned in the early 70's in a full-on Revival.

a) I Rocked the Crowd (But FM Won)
b) Celluloid Graffiti
c) Revivals: Roots, Glam, Pubs, Punks, and Teds

a) I Rocked the Crowd (But FM Won)

Sha Na Na at Woodstock, 1969

Woodstock was the peak of the counterculture tsunami. The largest generation ever now had full presence and progress in its hands.

The festival personified a crux-point for the past and future of both music and society. Rock had started in the 50's by pushing back the margins and pushing forward the marginalized, and after 15 years it had become the universal language connecting an eclectic alternate society. Where would it all go next?

As dynamic as Rock had matured in the wake of The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, it all was still an extension of the styles that had inspired it. The setlists at Woodstock were a catalog of all the roots musics that underlay it: folk, blues, country, jazz, gospel, bluegrass, salsa, soul, international musics. Rock was now like wild branches spreading rapidly from deep roots, all loose but twined tight to the communal trunk. This reflected the diverse creativity and backgrounds of the cosmopolitain audience.

So it was time for Money to get in there and mess that up. FM radio would reduce all of that promise and possibility to rigid style formats that would divide the listeners and conquer that progressive unity. Rock was the common tongue of the freespirits. But that's why the real Big Brother and its holding companies wanted to control what was expressed.

Chuck Berry at Toronto Pop Festival, 1969

The dominant AM radio in the 60's had played everyone together as long as they had hits. By 1967, the underused FM became a haven for the counterculture to play underground rock with extended lengths and no censorship. Ever quick to milk the movement, corporations started buying up all the indie labels to form mega-labels and co-opted FM as the new wavelenth. At exactly the moment Woodstock was freeing everyone to be inclusive and expansive, the labels and radio became excluding and constrictive in what people could hear. They sifted communal creativity and interaction into niche markets they could control and fleece for money. This divided and conquered the cultural future, and continues to.

(There's no better or sadder analogy of the conservative backlash slowly strangling the counterculture in the 70's than in watching the corporate label machine streamline, sterilize, and segregate music year by declining year. Easy proof: compare any act from the funky early 70's to their slick shadow in the late 70's.)

Fanny; NQB; The Persuasions

But how do you rock the party when you can't get in the door?

The most insidious and damaging fallout of FM is how it intensified the codifying of music by the same old false racial and gender divisions. The unspoken formula had distilled to Rock=Guitar=White(male), Soul=Dance=Black, and Female=Soft=Sex. People got so used to it that to this day they take this controlling propaganda for given truth. FM, like repressive society, operated on erase-ism: anyone who didn't fit the profiles got eliminated.

Women were (and are) stringently catalogued as pop singers or dance divas, so tough Rock acts like Fanny, Birtha, Cradle, Isis, Mother Trucker, Yoko Ono, NQB (Sweden), and The Runaways that negated the stereotype in the 70's weren't supported properly with marketing or airplay. If they weren't seen or heard, they didn't exist in history. But, like climate change, they existed anyway.

This segregation mentality from programmers had always been there since the 50's. The same music was called two different names -Rock'n'Roll or Rhythm'n'Blues- depending on the skin of the players. But it was the same music. FM worsened this. Even though modern Rock music (post-1967) was bestowed by Jimi Hendrix, hardcore rocker acts like Funkadelic, Black Merda, Death, and Mother's Finest never got played on Rock radio. But it was the same music.

The original Rock allowed for sounds from the post-Gospel Doo Wop groups; though these traditions still informed the harmonies of every current vocal combo like The Temptations, The Dramatics, The Pointer Sisters, Bloodstone, and The Chi-Lites, they were steadily consigned to another planet called Soul separate from Rock as tough guitar was cleansed from their mixes. (The Persuasions were so proud of the Doo Wop heritage that they always sang a capella, on records like "Street Corner Symphonies".)

So, although women and diverse faces were a huge portion of the original 50's Rock explosion, they were enforcedly absent from its 70's Revival, to everyone's great loss. (They contributed anyway, and this music player returns them properly.)

"There's so many people'll be there to love and cheer
some of the greatest guitar playing in the Western hemisphere
Got The Who, The Band from across the north border,
Canned Heat, The Fifth Dimension, Creedence Clearwater,
And oh, Brother Hendrix, Sister Joplin, we wish you were here."

-Chuck Berry, "Festival" (1971)

Rock only knew where to go from remembering where it came from.

As crazed and divergent as it was now becoming (Psychedelic, Funk, Fusion, Soul, Prog, Bubblegum, etc.), its young artists always hearkened back to the original styles -Rockabilly, Rhythm'n'Blues, Blues, Honky Tonk, Doo Wop, Cajun, Mambo- to keep their bearings. By 1970 this began to hit critical mass in cover versions, homage tunes, and tour mentors.

Many of the 50's elders -like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Big Mama Thornton, Muddy Waters, The Everly Brothers, and Jerry Lee Lewis- enjoyed recurrent crests in the 60's because of each new wave that built on their work. Now in the dawning 70's they were touring the counterculture festivals as peers with their scion.

But FM heard them knocking and didn't let them in: radio only programmed them as oldies hits while ignoring their new albums. This slowly segregated them from youth festivals into Oldies tours and pegged them as nostalgia acts instead of being respected as thriving legacy artists.

Little Richard, early 70's

Young acts in Festivals were expected to metamorphisize, but elder stars found that Oldies package tours were sealing them in amber. Audiences expected them to be a strutting simulacrum of their past, while buyers went for albums of younger acts doing their styles. There was a major Rock Revival show at Madison Square Garden in 1971; when Ricky Nelson played a Stones song looking modern, reflexive booing drove him from the stage.

"But if memories were all I sang, I'd rather drive a truck.
But it's alright now, I've learned my lesson well
You see, you can't please everyone so you've got to please yourself."

-Ricky Nelson, "Garden Party" (1972)

Negative undertow like ageism and pop disposability continued dividing Rock. The Rolling Stones, the solo Beatles, The Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Led Zeppelin, T. Rex, David Bowie, Suzi Quatro, BTO, and Bruce Springsteen could burn rubber on Gold hubcaps while their heroes were just spinning wheels. The 50's pioneers were making money but without progress, while the times traded on everything they had invented.

It was hard to be a rock and not to roll.

b) Celluloid Graffiti

Wolfman Jack in 'American Graffiti'

The phenomenal success of 'HAIR' on Broadway (1968) ducktailed into the debut of the 'GREASE' musical in 1971. Owing to the times and the audience, the original production was much grittier, daring, and socially relevant. But, much like Rock'n'Roll hits in the 50's, it was tamed down from edgy rebellion to sock hop silliness for mainstream appeal. (And further for film and high school productions.)

George Lucas flipped a 180 from the glacial Kubrick futurism of his debut feature THX-1138 into the intimate warmth of his breakthrough follow-up AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973). The counterculture was beginning to reflect on the social upheaval that had formed their lives, as mirrored in New Hollywood films like THE LAST PICTURE SHOW and SUMMER OF '42. Lucas' coming-of-age homage about the summer of '62 hit a resonant chord with a generation looking back, as well as new youth coming up.

The original GREASE musical; Paul LeMat, Cindy Williams, and Ron Howard, 'American Graffiti'

A crucial factor in this was the double-album soundtrack of hits from the 50's and early 60's. This watershed event alone invented industries: the parallel rise of archival compilations like "Nuggets" and labels like Rhino Records and Bomp; the waves of Top 40 Oldies radio stations essentially templated by the album; and the amped merchandising of film soundtracks as pop hit machines instead of scores.

More importantly, GRAFFITI made the original Rock'n'Roll era cool again in the mainstream, as a chaser to the turbulent 60's, as an antidote to current Rock bloat and listlessness, and as fresh inspiration to new artists.

Through the decade similar films and shows rollicked and rolled, from edge to affect to kitsch.

The ascent of Glam nostalgia underwrote THAT'LL BE THE DAY (1973) featuring Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, and David Essex in a tale of an aspiring early rocker. The sequel STARDUST (1974), adding Dave Edmunds and Adam Faith, detailed the career of his band 'The Stray Cats'. (Hmmm.)

(L) 'Happy Days' in 1974; (R) 'Happy Days' in 1978

This hit critical mass through one show.

The TV-series 'Happy Days' traced over GRAFFITI, even down to tagging its star, Ron Howard. The first two seasons were like the film in style and period accuracy. But the third season became a live-audience flourescent sitcom with lazy catchphrases and hazy detail. Naturally, this feel-good cartoon/painful sell-out led to explosive success, and to spin-offs like 'Laverne and Shirley' (and perversely 'Mork and Mindy', along with three more best ignored). It was still an enjoyable show with occasional nods to civil rights issues and social conflicts. But 'Happy Days', with its massive audience, also unintentionally did the most to crystallize the generic stereotype of the era as diners, poodle skirts, and suburban oblivion (sappy daze), once again defanging the original Rock'n'Roll of all its edge and social power.

Thus by the time GREASE (1978) was finally filmed, it had inverted into corny cringe, goony stupidity, and disco anachronisms. And it was a massive hit, worsening the trite overwrite with waterfalls of dumb money.

'The Buddy Holly Story'; Chuck Berry in 'American Hot Wax'; Ken Wahl in 'The Wanderers'

Some films tried to offset this disturbing trend.

The solid drama THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY (1978), though factually blurry, restored Buddy firmly into the pantheon while inspiring new cover versions and much New Wave and Power Pop style. There was also the underrated AMERICAN HOT WAX (1978), a biography of seminal DJ Alan Freed, in which Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Screaming Jay Hawkins played themselves. To its credit, this film correctly posited 50's Rock as the catalyst for the age of social rebellion. And tough gang films like THE LORDS OF FLATBUSH (1974) and THE WANDERERS (1979) shook brass knuckles at an indifferent box office.

If the screen dreams were struggling between hawkeyed, cockeyed, and myopic, music was still revising new visions.

c) Revivals: Roots, Glam, Pubs, Punks, and Teds

It's sometimes said broadly that if Chuck Berry is the father of Rock'n'Roll (rollicking boogie), then Jimi Hendrix is the father of ROCK (godzilla marches). As Rawk in the wayward 1970's then became solos or symphonies or soft, many hungered again for brisk music to dance and roll and grind and shout to.

They wanted to feel like they did in the beginning, so they kept dropping the coin into the slot.

Roots = restart

The revivalists and the traditionalists opened the decade, followed by the memorialists.

Almost like an unapologetic manifesto, the Berry/Elvis echoplex of Dave Edmunds' cover "I Hear You Knocking" (1970) kicked the door down and the dominoes in motion. ("Keep A-Knockin'" and its answer song "I Hear You Knocking" are Blues standards that Little Richard and Huey 'Piano' Smith first adapted into Rock hits.)

Dave Edmunds; Nick Lowe; Barrabas

Revivalist acts like Sha Na Na and Frank Zappa's resuscitated Ruben and The Jets redressed the 50's like fun pantomimes of a bygone time. Showaddywaddy really went for it, pushing the range with some contemporary flair, and coiffing and draping in finest Teddy Boy fashion.

But traditionalists like Dave Edmunds, The Flamin' Groovies, Commander Cody And The Lost Planet Airmen, Nick Lowe, and Chris Spedding treated the 50's styles as living traditions to extend the spirit and range of. In this they were like contemporary Blues artists, picking up the relay and running further afield with it.

The pulse also choogled in Boogie Rock acts like Canned Heat, Savoy Brown, J.J. Gunne, Brownsville Station, Foghat, Barrabas (Spain), and Los Puntos (Mexico). And grandiose acts like The Move and their spinoffs, Electric Light Orchestra and Wizzard.

The common undercurrent was nostalgia and reflection.

The entire Rock era was memorialized in Don McLean's "American Pie" (1971), a symbolist exam on the promise and pitfalls of the paths taken. Other hits took the sentimental look back with doo wop daydreams like B. J. Thomas' "Rock and Roll Lullaby" and The Carpenters' "Yesterday Once More". Loggins and Messina's "Your Mama Don't Dance" was a 70's anthem based on 50's themes.

And fond remembrance drove hit covers like Ringo Starr's "Sixteen", Johnny Rivers' "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu", and Linda Ronstadt's glosses on Chuck Berry, The Everly Brothers, and Buddy Holly.

Glam = theater

John Lennon is oft-quoted for cheekily calling Glam "Rock'n'Roll with lipstick on". It was really a malatov mix of the androgynous theater of Little Richard, the riffs of Chuck Berry, the sleaze of Times Square, the ironic camp of cabaret, and the bracing jolt of shock.

"Meanwhile I was still thinkin'
If it's a slow song, we'll omit it
If it's a rocker, that'll get it."

-Chuck Berry, "Little Queenie" (1959)

Glam Rock was the sassy stepchild of 50's Rock'n'Roll. It reduced Prog pomp to curt burlesque, and marathon jams back to tight riffs. T. Rex's breakout monster "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" builds on Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie" and quotes its 'meanwhile' asides. And Chuck's plucks duckwalk amok in the New York Dolls, Suzi Quatro, Bonnie St. Claire, and Mud.

Slyly transgressive, the proudly low-culture cuisinart THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975) was rampant with 50's odes, as wildly embodied by Meat Loaf.

Marc Bolan; Suzi Quatro; Meat Loaf in 'Rocky Horror'

All flash aside, Glam was vital to refocusing Rock'n'Roll back to core basics like three-minute-Pop, catchy verve, sexy sway, and fun dancing. It brought platforms stomping to the floor yelling more more more.

Pub = stripped down

But some acts just wanted to skin all the varnish off Rock'n'Roll down to the raw wood.

U.K. Pub Rock bands in 1975 dropped all the extended solos, strings, irony, camp, or platforms in favor of the unapologetic rawbone boogie. Where riffs were knuckles and guitars were bats, where gritty was good and greasy was better.

Crazy Cavan And The Rhythm Rockers; Dr. Feelgood; The Count Bishops

First Shakin' Stevens and then Crazy Cavan And The Rhythm Rockers galvanized the gin joints, followed by Dr. Feelgood, The Count Bishops, Ducks Deluxe, The 101ers (with Joe Strummer), and Kilburn And The High Roads (with Ian Dury). Stadium rockers had left the bar stages empty and these acts cleaned up doing the down and dirty. With their near gangland attitude and turf grabs, they were the petrol that sparked the UK Punk scene.

That spartan, speed-addled approach also resounded in artists like Sonic's Rendezvous Band (post-MC5), The Runaways, Modern Lovers, Eddie And The Hot Rods, Radio Stars, and The Ramones.

Punk = danger

If Rock had originally rebelled against the status quo, it seemed that with Punk in 1977 Rock was rebelling against itself. But in reality, Rock had started by fighting social complacency, and now it was fighting complacency in itself.

Backs to a brick wall in leather jackets and glaring, The Ramones were the poster boys of stark rebellion. They embraced looking like a biker gang because primal instinct drove them to kill frills and scorch through the thrills.

Punk declared 'Year Zero' to burn down the entire past and create their own future. But, like every child, they were just deconstructing the before to reconstruct an after. They selected the best parts that moved them and let passion guide them to next. This is normal, natural, and necessary. Punk was bringing the danger back to Rock'n'Roll.

Creative culture is a family affair. Elders give wisdom to youth, youth gives back vitality to elders. Ageist divides are a two-way deadend, mutual respect is the intersection. Under all the brief yelling still lies the common bond.

Elvis died in 1977 exactly as Punk was learning to walk. "The king is gone but he's not forgotten/ This is the story of Johnny Rotten," sang Neil Young. The flame before is the fire next time. The platitude that each decade was a lump generation turning against a previous is idiotic. Kids may yell at their parents but they still love them. The 60's was informed by the 50's, and the 70's was informed by both. Under all that posturing and smack talk, Punk had put the rebel back into the cause.

Buddy Holly Elvis Costello; Joan Jett; X-Ray Spex

There was 1950's Punk and there was 1960's Punk. This was just the latest reiteration.

The Ramones were The Stones and The Sonics, Elvis Costello was Buddy and Dylan, Suicide was Elvis and Orbison, Joan Jett was Chuck and Wanda, Billy Idol was Elvis and Morrison, The Jam were The Who and Small Faces. X-Ray Spex even rattled punkers by bringing back crazed saxophone solos again. Even the use of "The" for band names, short slicked hair, and tight clothes was a callback to early Rock. And older kin like The Who, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Genya Ravan, Crazy Horse, and The Rolling Stones were revitalized by the threat or thrill of Punk.

Many songs were written about the death of "the King of Rock'n'Roll" by the expected peers. But Generation X proudly punked Punk by rebel yelling "King Rocker". And when The Clash sang "No Elvis, Beatles, or The Rolling Stones/ in 1977", they were actually lamenting the current loss of the vitality they had brought to music, not disparaging them. Stealthily, many punkers were traditionalists bringing new breath.

Teds = rebirth

If Pub rockers brought back the spirit, and Punks brought back the edge, the Teddy Boy Revival in the late 70's UK brought back original Rock'n'Roll style (almost) completely.

Acolytes always aggragate all. The Teds were Elvis echo, Berry bristle, Richard ripple, Burnette barnstorming, and Lewis lairyness.

(However they were too pale and male, unlike the diverse range of the original Rock. In fact, a wretched wave of bigots calling themselves Rockabillies tried to crash the movement's party, waving ludicrous Confederate flags and playing 'white-only' covers, but were thankfully driven out.)

Teddy Boys, 1965; Teddy Boys, late 70's

The fuel of the rocket was the Teddy Boy Revival bands.

New stages, tour circuits, and fanbases across Europe shook, rattled, and rolled to Crazy Cavan, Matchbox, Crepes And Drapes, Riot Rockers, The Jets, Danny Wild and The Wildcats, Rock Island Line, and Shotgun. Barked, battled, and balled to country cousins like Spider Murphy Gang (Germany), Les Alligators (France), and the fireball Hank C. Burnette (Sven-Ake Hogberg from Sweden). Flipped, flopped, and flew to Original School rockabillies like Sleepy LaBeef, Mac Curtis, and Ray Campi returning to show 'em how it's done.

These bands blazed a new batch of rockin' standards that would be covered as readily in decades to come as the original hits, especially Cavan's. They spit in fashionable turnover's face as they proudly made Rock'n'Roll an underground music again. They were the bedrock of a now permanent 1950's revival that has thrived across the world ever since, from Stray Cats and Barrence Whitfield, to The Meteors and El Vez, to TWIN PEAKS and Reverend Horton Heat, to Kay Lenz and King Salaami.

Interviewer: "Are you a mod or a rocker?"
Ringo Starr: "I'm a mocker."

-from A HARD DAYS NIGHT (1964)

The original Teddy Boys of England hadn't got on well with the emerging Mods in the early 60's. Minor scuffles led to hysterical headlines because false conflict sells news. (You may've noticed that.) Ringo was past it, loving both and more.

When the Teddy Boys returned, tabloids played up a new false war with the Punks. But they were both rooted through Pub Rock to original Rock, and admired each other's energy and style.

Sid Vicious; The Damned; The Clash

By 1978, inevitable synthesis brewed. Sid Vicious sang Gene Vincent songs in a leather jacket (and a bullet belt given to him by Joan Jett). The Rezillos growled like yob-abillies in "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite", a cover of an early Fleetwood Mac spoof. The Clash found their calling in a "Brand New Cadillac" looking like Gene Vincent And The Blue Caps. And Nikki And The Corvettes declared that "girls like me/ were born to Rock'n'Roll!"

Thesis > anthithesis > synthesis. In "One Piece At a Time" (1976), Johnny Cash scrapped together a "psychobilly cadillac". The collision of Ted style and Punk energy was of course inevitable. The birth pangs of Psychobilly thus wail through Robert Gordon's rumbles with the returned Link Wray, the kinky carnival of The Cramps, the noize of The Sting-Rays, the buzzsaws of The Rezillos, and particularly in Misfits' "American Nightmare".

"Rock and Roll is here to stay, it will never die
I don't care what people say, Rock and Roll is here to stay!"

-Danny And The Juniors (1958)

The original Rock'n'Roll had reemerged at the start of the 70's, and now it would stay -like a spiritual anchor, a looming threat, a palette-cleanser, a fond friend, a rebel faith, a refresh button- through the decades to come.

1950's Rock, C: The 1980's disciples

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Manifesto, A Handy Checklist

Revolution 1950's: The Big Damn Bang of Rock'n'Roll!

1950's PUNK: Sex, Thugs, and Rock'n'Roll!

CHUCK BERRY: The Guitar God and His Disciples

BO DIDDLEY: The Rhythm King and His Disciples

BUDDY HOLLY: Rock's Everyman and His Disciples

LITTLE RICHARD: The Voice of Rock and His Disciples

JIMMY REED: The Groover of Rock, From Motown To Sesame Street

1950's Rock, A: The 60's Disciples

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1950's Rock, A: The 60's Disciples

How the original 1950's Rock styles remained strong through each decade!
(#1 of 6 parts)

...with enormous, world-spanning Music Player!

The Blue Diamonds

now brings you the actual, all-inclusive history of Rock'n'Soul music each week.

History Checklist

Today, the story of how Rock'n'Roll first conquers the world, mutates into new forms, and comes back refreshed!!
Hear an exhaustive music player, with worldwide artists maintaining the 50's styles from 1960 through 1969!

Spotify playlist title=
50's Rock disciples: '60-69
This is a Spotify player. Join up for free here.

*(The Player is limited to the first 200 songs.
Hear the unlimited Playlist here.)

All songs in order from 1960 through 1969.

The upshot:

50's Rock continued into the 60's.
Rock became permanent: borderless, fluid, and adaptive.
Styles evolved.
All movements were underscored by the original Rock'n'Roll.
And so it came back again.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., The March on Washington, 1963

50's Rock continued into the 60's.

Rock'n'Roll is a shared dream based on rebel instincts: to dance, to make love, to join together, to expand out, to be liberated.

The Beats were rewriting the Word, Civil Rights was rescuing the future, Rock rolled over Beethoven. The new decade was a renewed world, mod ideas, a cosmopolitain outlook, inclusive, progressive. The youth saw themselves in JFK, the Peace Corp, Dr. King, jukeboxes and paperbacks, and a new possible world where there were no borders to constrain anyone. The tidal wave of the rebel Fifties surged into the early 60's and became the undercurrent of all its subsequent waves.

The Beatles were the cumulation of all the styles before them combined and renewed. Everything was starting over, enhanced. If Rock'n'Roll was a Big Bang of culture, then Beatlemania is the second Big Bang of Rock. But the rote narrative that consigns everyone previous as a precursor is myopic. It's a revisionism without vision.

It's all of a piece and everyone is still there. Many of the 50's artists were not much older than the British Invasion, and ofttimes were their peers, like Brenda Lee, the Collins Kids, Ricky Nelson, and Frankie Lymon. Elvis was still a presence through his movies, Buddy Holly still rode the charts from the vaults while The Crickets ticked on, The Everly Brothers were evergreen, and Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke, and Del Shannon had their biggest hits in the early 60's.

Chuck Berry; Elvis Presley; Bo Diddley

"Oldies" schmoldies. Record bins and radio hacks segregate Rock (counterculture 60's artists who kept having hits, plus) from Oldies, the elders and also-rans. Another false border to be ignored. A generation gap? No, more fairly, society and culture were like an extended family with growing pains.

To on-air DJ's, songs were disposable; Hits today, "Oldies" tomorrow played as filler and requests. There were no compilations yet, no record chains with catalog albums, no archivists or critics, no belief in Rock as more than a fad. To jaundiced eyes in 1964, The Beatles were just a new fad to replace Elvis.

But to sharper ears, they were proof that Rock was truly worldwide and now permanent. And that repression was losing.

Eros magazine, Summer 1962, photo essay by Richard Hattersley

Rock became permanent: borderless, fluid, and adaptive.

Meanwhile acolytes in every nation sawed through covers into clones into originals to find themselves. This is how the creative cycle always works: walking in previous shoes to find your own tread. Parents, child. Two cool things make a new cool thing. Tradition can become a calcified ritual that excludes, but true creativity thrives in fluid combinations that birth new options.

Rock may have seemed to explode spontaneously from the United States, but it was inherently a world artform. The USA isn't really a singular nation, it is the notion of all nations in one place. At its best it is a dialogue of all voices. American Rock'n'Roll was thus made of many sounds that had come from many places: its source musics can be traced back to Ireland, England, Africa, Arabia, Mexico, the Caribbean, etc.

"Beat Girl" (1960) by John Barry; "Ek Phool Char Kante" (Bollywood 1960); Los Llopis

"People have divergent life histories, different shared experiences with distinctive ways of relating to these differences. We all have a worldview, and we all share our worldview with others with similar experiences. We have culture." -Robert Wald Sussman, author "The Myth of Race" (2014)

It's sometimes said we get our sense of the beat from remembering our mother's heart in the womb. It is the primal link on the subliminal level for all of us. Creativity itself is about communal resonance and response. Pssst! The big secret is... there are no borders between people, there is only common experience and recognition. And true hearts will always hear connection and respond unhindered by any false divisions.

You see, the robo-narrative about Rock'n'Roll is wrong.

It's wrong in its limited scope and false conflicts. Rock'n'Roll isn't just Country and Blues, it sources myriad other musics, as well. Rock'n'Roll isn't two alien races of 'white' versus 'black', but instead is just unique persons feeling the same feeling and sharing it.

(The short: humans are one race > >, there are no races >, it all comes down to your character and actions, adult up and sort it, let's go forward together, next.)

Now that that's solved, here's the core truth: you're an individual, and you respond strongly to something because you are that thing. That sound, that concept, that lover, that outlook, that feeling that moves you... it's not something you just imitate, it's recognition of something you already are, and it's giving you the permission to come forward and join in. While dummies cause real harm over false differences, sharp souls are working together to make a better day.

You start by singing each other's songs.

Nicole Paquin; Los Locos del Ritmo; Roy Orbison

The original Rock'n'Roll is a spiritual alphabet, a sonic Rosetta Stone regardless of the tongue.

So no more borders, no exclusion, no segregation, no gender, no skin, no more constraints. Which is why pompadours and suede shoes quickly swiveled in Sweden (Sven-Ingvars, The Noise Men), Spain (Kurt Savoy, Los Pekenikes), France (Amy Anahid, Les Chats Sauvages, Nicole Paquin), Germany (Rene Kollo), Poland (Niebiesko-Czarni), Canada (Les Nautique, Les Shadols, Les Ingenues), New Zealand (Ivor Fisher), and Japan (Hibari Misora, Kikayo Moriyama, Yasushi Suzuki).

Indorock: The Javalins; The Tielman Brothers; The Twangies

Mexico was one of the quickest to lock onto Rock and roll it over with Los LLopis, Freddy Fender, Los Locos del Ritmo, Rosie and The Originals, and Los Apson. In the Netherlands, Indonesian immigrants embraced Rock and first popularized it with Indorock bands like The Tielman Brothers, The Rockin' Blacks, and The Blue Diamonds. On Bollywood's screens, actor Sunil Dutt pantomimed mock Rock sung by Mohammed Rafi or Iqbal Singh. In Jamaica, Laurel Aitken's attempts at island R'n'B rapidly morphed into the first Ska records.

And in England, John Barry, Johnny Kidd and The Pirates, and Helen Shapiro set the stage for some guys from Liverpool once called 'The Beat Brothers' who were about to beat all. (Ba-dump-bump.)

Little Richard meets The Beatles and the Liverpool doo wop group, The Chants

Sly & The Family Stone

Styles evolved.

Rock'n'Roll was already a broad palette to start with. But new artists mixed primary colors into secondaries, countered with complements, negated with neutrals, collaged it, painted over it, repurposed it.

The Gospel harmonies romping in Doo Wop rebomped in Girl Groups and Motown troupes, in The Beach Boys and The Mamas And The Papas, in The Chants (Liverpool) and Sly & The Family Stone.

Cajun and New Orleans songs led to the funkiness of The Meters and Dr. John, and the swampiness of Bobbie Gentry and Tony Joe White.

The string arrangements of Buddy Holly, The Platters, and torch standards led to the lush productions of Phil Spector, Charles Stepney, and David Axelrod, and to mature albums like "Pet Sounds", "Sgt. Pepper", "Days of Future Past", and "Forever Changes".

Bebop and Folk and world musics led to Psychedelia.

You can make a game (or playlists) out of all the Soul vocalists influenced directly by Little Richard, Mahalia Jackson, Hank Williams, Jackie Wilson, Ray Charles, or Sam Cooke.

And of course, as Dr. King knew, Thesis and Antithesis still always lead to Synthesis anyway. Dylan and others had first countered Rock with Folk for its austere rawness and adult depth. But anyone listening to multiple things will combine them, and so came The Byrds, The Chambers Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Band, and Fairport Convention.

So the Fifties wave naturally churned up new currents, but with all this turnover, the source undercurrent still remained. As the attached music player proves, the original styles -Rockabilly, Rhythm'n'Blues, Blues, Honky Tonk, Doo Wop, Cajun, Mambo, etc.- still echoed directly in set lists, albums, and transistors worldwide. Initially, as the hit style (early 60's), then as standards (mid-60's), then as spoof (latter 60's), and ultimately as a restart revival (1969).

Chuck Berry, Fillmore West, by Greg Irons (1969)

All movements were underscored by the original Rock'n'Roll.

An idea, a movement, a philosophy, a genre are perennials: they seed into a tree with branches. The leaves may shed but the tree always remains, growing. Rock is Yggdrasil.

As soon as Rock'n'Roll found its way, it was a Genre, a perennial like Classical and Jazz that would outlast fleeting seasons or flighty masses or lazy journos. It is an idea that will always trigger new ideas, eternal. Beyond borders, eras, trends, or ignorance.

This is why dismissive (and insecure) buzzwords like retro, outmoded, period, quaint, fossil, or Oldies are so essentially clueless and laughable. Quality is timeless and ever-present, regardless of whether shallow trendchasers, flits, and snarks miss this distinction.

The original 1950's Rock'n'Roll could never really go away. It was everywhere in the 60's from the start, reflected in every local cover set ("Louie Louie"), Surf solo (Chuck Berry), Brit harmony (Everly Brothers), danceclub beat (Bo Diddley), Garage shout (Little Richard), Boogie pound (Jerry Lee Lewis), Soul vamp (Ray Charles), Blues moan (Howlin' Wolf), or mic swagger (Elvis Presley). The first youth of Rock were weaned on it, first walked with it, made out to it, got in trouble over it, crowded together with it, expanded it.

Barbara Lynn; Takeshi Terauchi; Dean Carter

Rock'n'Roll divined musicians to dig its roots. While Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, and Barbara Lynn carried the Blues torch, new upstarts like Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, Taj Majal, and Bonnie Raitt picked it up. In England, purists like Alexis Corner, John Mayall, and Judy Roderick presaged The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Animals, and The Bluesbreakers. Dylan responded to this cross-Atlantic ricochet by "Bringing It All Back Home" when he went electric.

Rock'n'Roll stretched music into new branches. The guitar instrumentals of Link Wray and Duane Eddy led to virtuosos like The Shadows, Lonnie Mack, Takeshi Terauchi, and Travis Wammick. The Ventures led to Dick Dale led to Surf and Drag songs. In Seattle, The Kingsmen and The Wailers' frat-party rock -like Little Richard belting with Chuck Berry blazing- led to The Sonics and Garage Rock. [More directly, listen to the ferocious Bunker Hill's "The Girl Can't Dance" (1962), backed by Link Wray.] Ray Charles led to Stax, "Money" led to Motown, Hank Williams led to Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, Howlin' Wolf blues led to Captain Beefheart artnoize.

Like Altman, the dialogue began to overlap. By the latter 60's, Dean Carter had one shoe in Rockabilly and the other in Garage Rock. The Beatles' "Lady Madonna" homaged Fats Domino so well that he sang it back. Del Shannon went psychedelic. Dion and Bobby Darin went singer/songwriter. Chess Records paired Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf with acidheads and blues-rockers, to their initial chagrin but fatter wallets. Charlie Rich sang Soul. Miles Davis brewed Fusion. Elvis came back and got social. "HAIR" did everything all at once, on Broadway, no less.

The Sonics; The Outcast (Japan); The Flamin' Groovies

But no matter how far you get from home you always remember the hearth. The stellar Psychedelia by Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and Steve Miller was underscored by the Blues of all before them. The Blues Rock of The Who, Janis Joplin, Steppenwolf, and Mother Earth reflected kindreds Etta James, Koko Taylor, and Albert King, who they were on touring circuits with. The common experience of Rock between artists and between audiences was all-inclusive, a journey of mentors and heirs exploring tributaries off the same path.

A shared dream based on rebel instincts.

The first Toronto Rock'n'Roll Revival festival, 1969

And so it came back again.

Bill Graham insisted on seasoned pros headlining with new acts in his Fillmore concerts. This familial outlook helped inspire Rock Revival festivals that brought Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, and Big Mama Thornton to counterculture crowds. By 1969, original-style Rock'n'Roll went from winking nostalgia ("Back In the U.S.S.R.", "Oh Darling", "Come Together") or muggy pastiche (Ruben and The Jets, Sha Na Na) to full-throttle revival (MC5, Flamin' Groovies).

Its 'return' would lead to Glam Rock, Pub Rock, Punk, movies, TV shows, Broadway, and more in the 1970's...

1950's Rock, B: The 70's Disciples

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Manifesto, A Handy Checklist

Revolution 1950's: The Big Damn Bang of Rock'n'Roll!

1950's PUNK: Sex, Thugs, and Rock'n'Roll!

CHUCK BERRY: The Guitar God and His Disciples

BO DIDDLEY: The Rhythm King and His Disciples

BUDDY HOLLY: Rock's Everyman and His Disciples

LITTLE RICHARD: The Voice of Rock and His Disciples

JIMMY REED: The Groover of Rock, From Motown To Sesame Street

1950's Rock, B: The 70's Disciples

Monday, March 2, 2015

JIMMY REED: The Groover of Rock, From Motown To Sesame Street

...with 2 strutting Music Players!

now brings you the actual, all-inclusive history of Rock'n'Soul music each week.

History Checklist

Today, the jaunty Jimmy Reed, the groover of Rock!
Hear 2 extensive music players, one of Reed and one of all his disciples from the 1950's to today!

Music Player quick-links:
Jimmy Reed
Jimmy Reed's disciples: 1950's-2010's

The "Sesame Street" theme and many other famous songs we love all exist because of one Blues man.

Sometimes you can tell a history of Rock'n'Soul through the influence of one guitarist, or one voice, or one beat, or one song, or a groove. Jimmy Reed trademarked a groove that defined generations of music afterward.

Part 1: Rockin' With Reed!

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Jimmy Reed was an unassuming gentle soul who raised up a lot of noise and ripples.

A Mississippi blues man, a peer in the new 1950's electric wave of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy regularly galloped hits and standards into the pop charts alongside upstart colts like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. Catchy, no frills, all thrills. Jimmy bridged the worlds of Rock and Blues exactly as the first youth of Rock'n'Roll were learning to play.

Jimmy had a sweet disposition, like a cherished uncle talking loose, that felt like casual confessionals of hidden depth. He was a whisper and a smile, a gas and a groove. You could catch the melody, dance to it, and play it. Many many did and do.

He rolled out classics like printing money. "Ain't That Lovin' You, Baby?", "Baby, What You Want Me To Do?", "Bright Lights Big City", "Big Boss Man", "I Ain't Got You", "Shame, Shame, Shame". Each one pinballs the skull, tickles the tongue, taps the feet.

He was a good soul with a fine run and some bad breaks. And in the long run he was great.

Part 2: Ain't That Lovin' You, Baby!
The disciples of Jimmy Reed

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All songs in order from the 1950's to today.

Jimmy Reed is the mover and the groover. His easy-to-learn chords, earworm tunes, and amiable candor cut the baby teeth of Blues, Rock, and Soul folks for the long stroke.

His classic songs have been routinely covered from the late 50's up to this day, including:

Link Wray, Etta James, Barbara Lynn, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, Sly & The Family Stone, Elvis Presley, Steve Miller, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, ZZ Top, John Cale, Bryan Ferry, The Blues Brothers, Elvis Costello, The Lyres, Thee Mighty Caesars, Meat Puppets, Oasis, Willie Nelson, Branford Marsalis, Jimmy Vaughan, Rosie Flores, and Black Joe Lewis.

You'll even hear the young Jackson 5 (1967) learning how to play to Jimmy Reed!

Link Wray; Barbara Lynn; The Doors; The Blues Brothers

The Jimmy Reed groove is a boogie shuffle that was becoming standard in Blues and the emerging Rock in the mid '50's. He stamped it with his stark directness, catchy simplicity, and leisurely ease. He took such sonic possession of it, or it him, that it became hard to believe it ever existed without him.

After his first strutting hits, it started to diverge into two tempos, each of which launched many covers and imitations: e.g., the slow stroll of "Bright Lights Big City", and the sunny jaunt of "Big Boss Man".


The Rolling Stones; The Yardbirds; Bob Dylan; ZZ Top

Jimmy Reed turned the standard slow blues shuffle into a stripped, insular, smokey mood. It's the sound of shack backrooms, creaking floors and bones, raspy regrets, and woozy funk. It can be wandering midnight city cement, lost and glazed, on the wrong side of downhill. Or it can be sinuous and sultry, or lazed and content, or drunk and drained. It starts in rough Rockin' form on "I Found My Baby", simmers down on "Baby, What You Want Me To Do" and "Take Out Some Insurance", and reaches pure slow burn with "Bright Lights Big City". The groove and the mood becomes his through the spare atmosphere, languid vocal, and bleak harp.

You can hear this groove and mood play out in other classics like The Yardbirds' "Like Jimmy Reed Again", The Rolling Stones' "The Spider And The Fly", Ray Hoff and The Offbeats' "My Good Friend Mary Jane" (Australia), Chicago's "Anyway You Want", and in mutant spirit in Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" and ZZ Top's "Tush", or Half-Japanese splicing their cover with The Ventures' "Walk Don't Run".

(or, "Can You Tell Me How To Get Some Respect For Jimmy Reed?")

Tommy Tucker; Marvin Gaye; Solomon Burke; The Ad Libs

But it's the jaunty groove that everyone loves, even if they don't realize it's origin.

It's especially odd that songs influenced by 'the Bo Diddley' beat' are named, noted, and archived routinely, but no one seems to do the same for the upbeat Jimmy Reed groove. Yet it's often as ubiquitous.

It is paralleled early by similar groovers like Little Walter's "My Babe", Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me" and "Memphis, Tennesse"*, and Little Willie John's "Leave My Kitten Alone". But Jimmy distills the blues jaunt into a classic rhythm with "Big Boss Man" (1960). He refines it with "Baby What's Wrong" (1961) and perfects it on "Shame, Shame, Shame" (1963).

* (One critic contends that all of the songs I will ascribe as the Jimmy Reed jaunt are just variations of Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee". But I would respectfully counter this by expanding it. Rather than the false borders of antithesis, this is the fluid reality of synthesis in action.

Chuck's original was a 1959 b-side that sounds like a proto sketch, more of a straight jog than a jaunt, and was rarely heard. Only after Lonnie Mack (1963) and Johnnie Rivers (1964) had hit covers with it that skewed closer to Jimmy's rhythm did the song become famous, and even Chuck then changed how he played it after their lead. Creativity is endless synthesis. Note that Lonnie covered Jimmy's "Baby, What's Wrong" with the signature jaunt on the same album, and how much of Reed he brought into his very loose cover of "Memphis". So I contend that Jimmy Reed, though perhaps initially influenced by his peer Chuck, crystalized the rhythm that everyone will continue to expand on. But I've included all on the player for your own estimation.)

As Jimmy furrows the major groove, it mirrors in minor sides like The Esquires' "The Sight Of You", Cheryl and Pam John's "That's My Guy", and The Crickets' "All Over You". Even as Jimmy lay tread with "Shame, Shame, Shame", Tommy Tucker was on his heels with "Hi-Heel Sneakers".

It bops into the popstream with Marvin Gaye's "Can I Get A Witness?", laces loose in The Velvelettes' "Needle In A Haystack", and parties up Solomon Burke's "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love".

The Pretty Things; The Standells; Bobbi Gentry; Black Joe Lewis

But it probably reaches critical mass with The Ad Libs' "The Boy From New York City" (1965). By then it's a standard rhythm underscoring acolytes like Jean Wells' "Put The Best On The Outside" and answer songs like The Beach Boys' "The Girl From New York City". By now it's international, like Roy Head's "Apple Of My Eye" (England) and Los Johnny Jets' cover "El Leon" (Mexico), Les Furys' "Aide-Moi" (Canada), The Times' "Glad Not Sad" (Australia), and Datar's "Alveg ær" (Iceland).

This is the juncture in creative interchange when covers become clones become cousins. It goes from covers like The Pretty Things' or Bobbi Gentry's "Big Boss Man"; to clones like The Olympics' "We Go Together (Pretty Baby)" and The Arthur Brown Set's "The Green Ball"; to cousins like Booker T & The MGs' "Outrage", The Standells' "Dirty Water", The Ad Libs' "He's No Angel", The NightRiders' "Love Me Right Now", and Black Joe Lewis' "Black Snake".

Two cool things birth a third cool thing. Just as Jimmy echoed the blues shuffle in his own way, others reverbed his way into their way, and then all of them started to ricochet with each other. The Stones channel the Jimmy jaunt via Marvin Gaye with their response "Now, I've Got A Witness". Sugar Pie DeSanto gets there by answering "Hi-Heel Sneakers" with "Soulful Dress", as do Oasis with "(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady". The young Sly & The Family Stone strut Willie Mabon's "Seventh Son" sidelong into the Jimmy jaunt. Inez and Charlie Foxx burn into "Hurt By Love" by way of Martha And The Vandellas' "Heatwave". Shirley & Company cross Jimmy with Bo Diddley in their "Shame, Shame, Shame". Elvis Costello gets there in "Tokyo Storm Warning" by way of The Stones' "Satisfaction". Thee Mighty Caesars broadcast "Signals Of Love" on waves of Link Wray.

Cross-fertilization is how creativity (and culture, and the human lineage) works.

The original Sesame Street cast

The universality of the groove paved the way for the TV theme, "Can You Tell Me How To Get To SESAME STREET?" (1969), by Joe Raposo. The series began as a counterculture response to MISTER ROGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD, with an urban slant emphasizing diversity in the cast, film mediums, and especially music styles. Raposo was excellent at underscoring all of the segments with folk, jazz, blues, soul, rock, and more, a subtle music education for budding minds. Having the pulse of the times, he would have been aware of the Jimmy Reed jaunt in some form. So there it shines in a sunny tune that beamed itself into the cultural DNA of five decades of children.

Today is brought to you by the letter G, for Groove!

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Manifesto, A Handy Checklist

Revolution 1950's: The Big Damn Bang of Rock'n'Roll!

1950's PUNK: Sex, Thugs, and Rock'n'Roll!

CHUCK BERRY: The Guitar God and His Disciples

BO DIDDLEY: The Rhythm King and His Disciples

BUDDY HOLLY: Rock's Everyman and His Disciples

LITTLE RICHARD: The Voice of Rock and His Disciples

Monday, February 23, 2015

LITTLE RICHARD: The Voice of Rock and His Disciples

...with 2 piano-smashing Music Players!

Little Richard, by Tim O'Brien

now brings you the actual, all-inclusive history of Rock'n'Soul music each week.

History Checklist

Today, the sanctified Little Richard, the full-throttle throat of Rock!
Hear 2 massive music players, one of Richard and one of all his disciples from the 1950's to today!

Music Player quick-links:
Little Richard
Little Richard's disciples: 1950's-2010's

Part 1: Rip it Up!

Buddy Holly and Little Richard

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"and rose incarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in
the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the
suffering of America's naked mind for love into
an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone
cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio"

-Allen Ginsberg, HOWL (1956)

All of his life one exultant declaration.

Born bonepoor Georgia, starved skinny and 'little', wanting bigger. A Deacon father -alias bootlegger -also nightclub owner. One leg shorter but always two steps ahead of his surroundings. Running with the girls and mischief and make-up, shunned by men and beaten and scorned.

Deep soul forged in smolder, singed but singing, a blues heart a gospel throat. Like a minister you must love administer, sort out the sinister, writhe out pain adorn all in light. Hear inner word, give outer voice.

Calling up the crowds via alto saxophone transmission brawk squawk bleat squee, upjump crowds, fervor nerves, pound floorboards, sweat fire, amass joy.

Opening for Sister Rosetta Tharpe at fourteen 1947 gospel chorus boy, swaying secular with swingjive tours, drag king in vaudeville and circus. Show biz early 50's, pancaked and floodlit, pizazz pulpit, the volt dynamo.

Absorbing boogie piano from Esquerita 1951, burning through record labels and blues tours and mentors. In punk spirit bands together The Upsetters blazing rhythm rock 1953.

Specialty Records 1955, New Orleans club improv "Tutti Frutti", too profane! sanitize the insane but revolution remains, a wax attack in guerilla grooves, flaming young hearts all around the world. Standing at or on piano, footloose and finally free stomping keys kicking out all divisions, integrating dancing ears hearts souls in tune A WOP BOP A LOO BOP A LOP BAM BOOM!

Little Richard and The Upsetters

He wrought in Rock the androgyny the wild the theatrical the cinematic the uninhibited the omnisexual. The go-getter the upsetter the upender the offender the end of pretenders the blender. Bane to klan and The Man and the ban and the banal, bane to the youth and the uncouth and tall-taling upscaling of the truth.

Feral firebrand become consumptive fireball "Good Golly, Miss Molly/ You sure like to ball!" coming apart in a carnality carnivale. Best-dressed on the excess express deranged duressed unrest need blest. 18 hits three years on a ripping tear unabashed, a canon fired from circus cannons, a fastblast era moving too fast to control all a blearing smear a coming crash.

He saw the fireball in the sky above (1957 Sputnick), he saw the ministry as a grounding. Felt he'd lost God for gold, threw away his rings and his royalties in sacral loyalty, the man who fell to earth to reach out to heaven.

All of his life one exultant declaration.

Part 2: All Around The World! The Disciples of Little Richard

Little Richard meets The Beatles, Hamburg, 1962

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All songs in order from the 1950's to today.

"It was if, in a single instant, the world changed from monochrome to Technicolor."

-Keith Richards, on hearing "Tutti Frutti"

And the Rock faithful heard the word horde and saw the floodlights.

Little Richard, the bedrock of their bedlam, canon of their carols, artisan of their attitude, the verve of their voice.

Ray Charles and Little Richard seduced gospel stars to secular soul like Sam Cooke, the Womacks, Johnny Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Al Green (and like him they swayed back and forth).

He is the jump and grit of James Brown and Otis Redding. His shattering shout is the voice of Garage Rock and Punk and Metal.

His early 60's second coming galvanized The Beatles in Hamburg (who befriended his organist, Billy Preston). The Rolling Stones were his amen chorus opening for him in '63. Jimi Hendrix was his harpist in '64 ("I Don't Know What You Got"). His songs were the psalms of the British Invasion.

Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix

As Rock went roots and rough in the late 60's, his third coming graced the festival circuit with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, a revival that will summon Glam and Pub Rock and Punk and Psychobilly.

His paint-peeling howl possesses Etta James, James Brown, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney, Otis Redding, The Sonics, Wilson Pickett, Jim Morrison, The Outcast (Japan), Creedence Clearwater Revival, MC5, Rod Stewart, Steven Tyler, Motorhead, Bon Scott and Brian Johnson, Barrence Whitfield, The Lime Spiders, Tom Waits, The A-Bones, Guitar Wolf, and Alexis Saski.

His world ministry amens in Los Teen Tops' "La Plaga" and Los Gibson Boys' "Lucila" (Mexico) and The Black Dynamites' "Send Me Some Lovin'" (Netherlands) and Masaaki Hirao's "Lucille" (Japan) and Moustique's "Good Golly, Miss Molly" (France) and Adriano Celentano's performance of "Ready Teddy" in Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA (1960).

David Bowie; Freddy Mercury; Boy George

His pagentry, Pancake 31, and punch is the creator of Glam Rock and New Romantic, his theatre a launching stage for Bowie and Freddie and Suzi and Siouxsie and Lou and Jayne.

His erotic ambiguity and androgyne edge sired Grace Jones, Michael Jackson, Boy George, Prince, Lady Gaga, Janelle Monae.

Little Richard; Grace Jones; Prince; Janelle Monae

His "Ooh! My Soul" begat Ritchie Havens' "Ooh! My Head" which begat Led Zeppelin's "Boogie With Stu". His spin on "Keep A-Knockin'" begat Eddie Cochran's "Somethin' Else" and the intro drums of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll". His canon begat Deep Purple's "Speed King".

His spirit catalyzed The Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There", "I'm Down", and "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window"; and CCR's "Travelin' Band"; and The Rolling Stone's "Rip This Joint"; and Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting"; and Bob Seger's anthem "Old Time Rock and Roll". Listen anew.

His "The Rill Thing" begat the drum samples on 60 hiphop songs alone.

His fourth comeback after a bestselling bio in the 80's led him to new music, talk shows, and Fishbone and Living Colour.

His "Tutti Frutti" was voted #1 in Mojo's "The Top 100 Records That Changed The World".

Yes, verily, to all and whom,


The Minister of Rock'n'Roll

© Tym Stevens
(except Ginsberg's "Howl")

See Also:

The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Manifesto, A Handy Checklist

Revolution 1950's: The Big Damn Bang of Rock'n'Roll!

1950's PUNK: Sex, Thugs, and Rock'n'Roll!

CHUCK BERRY: The Guitar God and His Disciples

BO DIDDLEY: The Rhythm King and His Disciples

BUDDY HOLLY: Rock's Everyman and His Disciples

JIMMY REED: The Groover of Rock, From Motown To Sesame Street

Monday, February 16, 2015

BUDDY HOLLY: Rock's Everyman and His Disciples

...with 2 whopping Music Players!

now brings you the actual, all-inclusive history of Rock'n'Soul music each week.

History Checklist

Today, the brainstormin' Buddy Holly, man of vision!
Hear 2 massive music players, one of Buddy and one of all his disciples from the 1950's to today!

Music Player quick-links:
Buddy Holly
Buddy Holly's disciples: 1950's-2010's

Part 1: Rave On

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The everyman who changed everything.

Elvis was the sexy crooner, Little Richard the fierce belter, Chuck Berry the guitar god. But Buddy Holly was the crowd itself, crashing the stage. Lanky, button-down, and big spex, the antidote to matinee idols and avatar to mere mortals.

Buddy was the triumph of normal life breaking through the spectacle, a clarifying moment and palette cleanser desperately and repeatedly needed in all culture.

His appearance and chords and band seemed the essence of simple. But Buddy was complex, fluid, and on fire. In a greasefire 18-month span, he redefined Rock and opened all the doors that the rest would get to explore.

The Crickets: Buddy Holly (lg), Joe B. Mauldin (b), Jerry Allison (d), Niki Sullivan (rg), 1957.

Refine, redefine.

Buddy wrote his own songs while others still interpreted. Buddy stripped out the horns and piano, creating the lead/rhythm/bass/drums template for Rock bands. He double-tracked his voice, brought in orchestral strings, and produced sessions. He popularized the Fender Stratocaster. His chords and changes became more tricky and mercurial.

Buddy Holly and The Crickets toured with an all-black revue and won over the Apollo Theatre. He married a Puerto Rican woman, brought Tejano influence in with "Heartbeat" [followed by Freddy Fender covering "Esa Sera El Dia (That'll Be The Day)"], and supported label mates like Carolyn Hester and Sherry Davis. He planned to make an album with his idols Ray Charles and Mahalia Jackson.

He signed on two labels simultaneously, as himself and the band, to outwit industry thievery. (Cue Parliament-Funkadelic, and The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.) He moved toward owning his own publishing and label. (Cue The Buzzcocks and indie rock.) And he was first to be out and proud about needing glasses. (Cue geek chic.)

Ed Sullivan and Buddy Holly, 1957

And, most sadly, he was the first major rocker to die, and to be exploited by the record industry (stripmined and over-overdubbed).

But the loss of Buddy Holly isn't really "the day the music died". Buddy's acts and wax opened up the future for singer/songwriters, quartet combos, studio wizards, Strato-blasters, indie upstarts, and geek empowerment for decades to come.

Buddy Holly was honest passion, and he gave us a love that will not fade away.

Part 2: Not Fade Away: The Disciples of Buddy Holly

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All songs in order from the 1950's to today.

Buddy Holly discovered Waylon Jennings and opened the door for more Texas rockers like ZZ Top, Joe Ely, the Vaughan brothers, and Mars Volta. He may have done as much to popularize the Bo Diddley beat as even Bo Diddley!

The Crickets' 45rpm; The Bobby Fuller Four; The Clash; Dead Kennedys

The punk standard "I Fought The Law" exists because of him. Sonny Curtis, a rotating member of The Crickets, was a crack songwriter; when the band continued after Buddy's death, they recorded Curtis' "I Fought The Law" in Buddy's style in 1960. (Curtis also wrote "Walk Right Back", "More Than I Can Say", and the Mary Tyler Moore theme, "Love Is All Around".) The song hit huge when covered by Buddy acolytes The Bobby Fuller Four in 1965, becoming a Garage standard. In the late 70's, The Clash and Dead Kennedys turned it into a punk broadside for the ages.

Buddy toured Australia and the United Kingdom. His sound and fashion had seismic influence on the youth who became the coming British Invasion; The Beatles, The Hollies, The Searchers, Gerry and The Pacemakers. The Rolling Stones first broke big covering "Not Fade Away". Sonic sorcerer Joe Meek evidenced his obsession with Buddy Holly in his productions, such as Mike Berry and The Outlaws' "Tribute To Buddy Holly".

Hank Marvin with The Shadows; Paul McCartney and John Lennon; Peter and Gordon; The Zombies

The Beatles connection is especially acute; their name, working-class approachability, originals like "I'll Be On My Way" and their cover of "Words Of Love", using the studio as an instrument, and going orchestral. McCartney even owns Buddy's song publishing.

Buddy's death inspired clear tributes but also some more abstract. Don McLean's allegorical opus "American Pie" (1971) mythologizes the first era of Rock from Presley through Altamont, opining that the plane crash of Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper was "the day the music died", when the music lost its innocence and perhaps its way.

Don McLean; Gary Busy in 'The Buddy Holly Story'; the 'Buddy' musical; the Buddy Holly USA stamp (1993)

Interest in Buddy skyrocketed after the release of the film THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY (1978), and again with the first 'jukebox musical' "Buddy" (1989), still touring worldwide.

Buddy also renovated Rock vocals. Elvis had turned hiccups into a swagger, a ricochet of verbiage and reverb. Between Rockabilly and Doo Wop, the era was already elastic in elocution. But Buddy seemed to further deconstruct syllables into a melismatic morse code, a reconstruction by interpolation which chopped and distorted words into feels (e.g., "Peggy Sue").

This was paralleled in period rockers like Bettie McQuade's "Tongue Tied" and Kathy Zee's "Buzzin". It is also prescient of radical vocalists to come like Yoko Ono, Damo Suzuki, Annette Peacock, and Diamanda Galas who turned tonsils into tonescapes.

Besides his pop canniness and normal=rebel style, Buddy's livewire yelp was conducted by New Wave singers with angular affected vocals like Devo, The Cars, The B-52's, Nina Hagen, Lene Lovich, Talking Heads, XTC, Elvis Costello (Presley's name in Buddy Holly's body!), and Missing Persons. What they did doesn't sound like him, but how they did it does.

Devo; David Byrne of Talking Heads; XTC; Elvis Costello

Buddy ironically inverted spectacle by wearing spectacles. Glasses meant normal, smart, contrary, honest. They were the opposite of theatre (until someone postures those traits which returns it to theatre). Buddy the everyman gave the many anypersons the repeal to keep it real. His sartorial throughline links from John Lennon roundrims, to the Talking Heads' "average" aesthetic, to Geek Chic, to Nerdcore.

1) Freddie and The Dreamers; David Ruffin; Chad and Jeremy; Isaac Hayes
2) Elton John; Curtis Mayfield; Cheap Trick; Linton Kwesi Johnson
3) Donnie Iris; Marshall Crenshaw; RUN-DMC; Morrissey
4) Bjork; Jarvis Cocker; JD Sampson; Asa

Stay true to yourself, follow your vision. Any person can change anything.

© Tym Stevens

See Also:

The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Manifesto, A Handy Checklist

Revolution 1950's: The Big Damn Bang of Rock'n'Roll!

1950's PUNK: Sex, Thugs, and Rock'n'Roll!

CHUCK BERRY: The Guitar God and His Disciples

BO DIDDLEY: The Rhythm King and His Disciples

LITTLE RICHARD: The Voice of Rock and His Disciples

JIMMY REED: The Groover of Rock, From Motown To Sesame Street