Turner and Brenston: Pioneers of Rock & Roll
LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC/WPGC) – The black community’s contributions to hip-hop, jazz and R&B music are widely known, but did you know black artists are also credited with writing and performing the first rock and roll song?
The tune, “Rocket 88,” was written by Ike Turner and recorded by Turner’s Kings of Rhythm and Jackie Brenston at the legendary Sam Phillips studio in Memphis, Tennessee.
The song got to the top of rhythm and blues chart in June 1951 and stayed there for five weeks.
“Determining the first actual rock & roll record is a truly impossible task,” music journalist Bill Dahl writes in a Jackie Brenston biography on AllMusic.com. “But you can’t go too far wrong citing Jackie Brenston’s 1951 Chess waxing of “Rocket 88,” a seminal piece of rock’s fascinating history with all the prerequisite elements firmly in place: practically indecipherable lyrics about cars, booze, and women; Raymond Hill’s booting tenor sax, and a churning, beat-heavy rhythmic bottom.”
Other music experts say it is the first track to mark the point where all of the various musical styles in the U.S. came together.
Check back all month for WPGC’s tribute to Black History Month.
99.1 WNEW’s Cheryl Simone contributed to this report