Rock Roots Photo Gallery 1948 - 1954
1948 - Omaha, NE jump blues shouter Wynonie Harris tops the US Rhythm & Blues Charts with the Roy Brown song "Good Rockin' Tonight", one of many contenders for first rock & roll song.1948 - Detroit based blues guitarist John Lee Hooker hits #1 R&B with his song "Boogie Chillen", beginning a long and influential career in R&B, continuing to his death in 2001. April 1949 - Goree Carter an R&B singer/guitarist from Houston, TX scores an R&B hit with "Rock Awhile". Carter's over-driven guitar style is a strong influence on later rock & roll musicians.1948 and 1949 - Columbia Records introduces the 33 & 1/3 rpm 12" LP (long play) vinyl record. This would become the vinyl standard for albums. The "45" is introduced in 1949 and would become the standard format for hit "singles". Together these new vinyl formats would replace 78 RPM records. May 1949 - Saxphonist Paul Williams sparks a nationwide dance craze with his #1 R&B single "The Hucklebuck". His sax style would be influential in rock music.1950 - The Memphis Recording Service, which eventually becomes Sun Records, is founded by Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tenessee. The Sun label records electric blues pioneers Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King, and later signs Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash.1950 - New Orleans, LA piano man Fats Domino goes to #2 R&B with his single "The Fat Man". With boogie woogie piano and a back beat, this song is one of many  contenders for "first" rock and roll song. 1950 and 1952 - Solid body electric guitars emerge in the early 1950's, first the Fender Broadcaster, later known as the Telecaster, followed by the Gibson Les Paul in 1952. These would become the instruments of choice for rock music.August 1950 - Roy Brown hits #1 R&B with "Hard Luck Blues" his gospel singing style would be a strong influence in rock music.March 1951 - "Rocket 88" is recorded at at Memphis Recording Service by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats - considered by many to be the first Rock & Roll song. The song goes to #1 on the Rhythm & Blues charts.May 1951 - The single "Sixty Minute Man" by New York City band Billy Ward and The Dominoes goes to #1 R&B, then crosses over to the Pop Charts. The song uses the slang term rocking and rolling as a euphemism for sex.1951 - The first jukebox to play 45 rpm records is introduced, hastening the demise of the previously standard 78 RPM records. 1951 - DJ Alan Freed launches The Moondog Show on Cleveland radio station WJW and attracts a mixed race audience. Freed later uses the term "rock and roll" to describe the music featured on his radio show.February 1952 - Memphis blues guitarist BB King has his first hit when his cover of "Three O'Clock Blues" goes to #1 R&B for five weeks.March 1952 - Organized by DJ Alan Freed, The Moondog Coronation Ball is held at the Cleveland Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Headlined by Paul Williams and Tiny Grimes, it is generally considered to be the first major rock and roll concert.April 1952 - "Lawdy, Miss Clawdy" a single by 19 year old New Orleans singer Lloyd Price, tops the R&B charts. Price's gritty vocals and wails are influential in the development of the rock and roll sound.1953 - Atlantic Records artist Ruth Brown tops the R&B charts with "Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean". April 1953 - Ariton, AL native Big Mama Thornton has a #1 R&B hit with "Hound Dog" written for her by the songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.June 1953 - "Crazy Man, Crazy" by Bill Haley and His Comets of Chester, PA becomes the first Rock and Roll song to make the Pop Charts, where it peaks at #12.July 1953 - Clyde McPhatter, ex-gospel singer and former member of the Dominoes, forms his own group, The Drifters in New York City and goes to #1 R&B with "Money Honey" on Atlantic Records.April 1953 - Baltimore, MD vocal group The Orioles top the R&B charts for five weeks with "Crying in the Chapel". The song then crosses over to the Pop Charts, where it goes all the way to #11. December 1953 - Marlon Brando becomes a bad boy teen icon playing Johnny, the leader of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club in the film "The Wild One". The film contains the classic lines... "What are you rebelling against?" Johnny's reply, "Whaddya got?"February 1954 - Kansas City, MO blues shouter Big Joe Turner hits #1 on the R&B charts with "Shake, Rattle and Roll". Bill Haley and the Comets clean up the lyrics and have an even bigger hit with the song on the Pop charts.1954 - Vocal groups take off with a new style called Doo Wop, bringing groups like The Charms, The Chords, The Crows and The Penguins  mainstream hits. The Penguins, shown above, were a Los Angeles group who went to #1 R&B, #8 Pop with the single "Earth Angel".July 1954 - Elvis Presley records his first single "That's Alright" at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennesee. The song is a regional hit in the mid-south, with strong support from influential Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips (shown with Elvis above), but fails to gain national attention.August 1954 - Canadian group The Crew-Cuts go to #1 on the pop charts with their cover of The Chords R&B hit "Sh-Boom". This would be the first rock & roll single to chart in the UK.September 1954 - DJ Alan Freed is lured from Cleveland by WINS radio in New York.  Freed's new program "Rock and Roll Party" is an immediate hit, demonstrating rock's growing national appeal.October 1954 - Hank Ballard (shown above), Big Joe Turner and other R&B stars are attacked for their suggestive lyrics, although cleaned up versions of their songs continue to score hits for white artists including The Crew Cuts, Pat Boone, Gale Storm and many others.December 1954 - Greenville, FL singer/piano player Ray Charles records "I Got A Woman" for Atlantic. It reaches #1 on the R&B charts and is often considered the first soul song.December 1954 - Sheboygan, WI vocal group The Chordettes adopt a more doo-wop sound under the direction of Archie Bleyer on Cadence Records and score a #1 hit in both the US and UK with "Mr. Sandman".
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