Robert Johnson
“King of the Delta Blues” and “Grandfather of R&R”
Known for his songs and wonderful lyrics
Known to have “sold his soul at the crossroads”
1936 – The Mississippi delta blues guitarist’s first recording session (in San Antonio, Texas)
‘Crossroad Blues’-1936
Bessie Smith
Largely regarded as the most popular and successful blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s
-Lost Your Head Blues
Call and response singer
personal experience songs
Chicago & Delta Blues
(Urban Blues)
fully amplified and put it into a small-band context
Drums, bass, and piano (sometimes saxophones) added to the basic string band and harmonica
Result of the “Great Migration”
Chess Records is founded in Chicago by two Polish-born Jews, Leonard and Phil, to promote blues and later rhythm and blues
Recorded many of the giants of postwar blues, including Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, John Lee Hooker
Chess, Atlantic, Specialty, Imperial, and other independent record labels gave the public music that wasn’t carried by the major labels
Muddy Waters
Real Name = Mckinley Morganfield
B.B King
records B.B. Blues for Memphis Recording Service, 1951.
Known originally as “Blues Boy” King
Master of ‘string bending’, a way for the guitar to imitate the human voice
‘Call and response’ vocals & guitar
Three O’Clock Blues (1951)
Bo Diddley
Born in Miss. as Otha Ellas Bates, Adopted name is Ellas McDaniel
Bo Diddley Beat (shave-&-a-haircut-six bits)
Name is derived from a one-stringed African guitar, the diddley-bow
Simple chord structure
Little Richard
Real Name = Richard Penniman
Muddy Waters
Part of the wartime migration to big cities; takes his country blues roots to Chicago and helps create the Chiacgo electric blues sound
Crying in The Chapel
-Original-Darrell Glen (country)
-cover-Orioles (gospel), outsold the original
-Original-Chords #5 on pop charts
-Cover-CrewCuts #1
Hound Dog
-Original was Willie Mae (Big Mama)Thornton
-Cover by Elvis Presley
Louis Jordan
makes a series of short music films with his band The Tympani Five
– the film caldonia popular in black theatres
-the first music videos
– pioneered the use of ‘jump shuffle rhythms with blues progressions; ‘goodtime’ lyrics
-key elements of rhythm and blues
Sam Cooke
started as a gospel singer and then switched to soul
-‘How far am i from Canaan?- Soul Stirrers w/ Sam Cooke
-Back beat and double-time feel present
-lead singer is expressive, choir/acc simple
Shake, Rattle and Roll
-Original-Big Joe Turner
-Cover-Bill Haley and the Comets
Hank Williams
-singer,guitarist, and songwriter
-icon of country music and rock n’ roll
-exponent of the honky tonk style
-loud enough for noisy saloon, danceable beat
-twin themes- celebration and sin
– nasal, hiccup, singer ‘on the verge of tears’
-charismatic performances and catchy lyrics
Original-Little Richard
Cover by Pat Boone
Fats Domino
first song to enter the rhythm and blues charts, the fat man
-introduces his rolling boogie woogie paino style to a wide audience
– has a long relationship w/ producer Dave Bartholomew
Chuck Berry
-recommended to chess records by muddy waters
-sharp looks combined with unique stage movements, duck walk
– sound is up-tempo blues=rockability
-defined the language of early rock guitar
– insistent chords
– country inspired solos
-wrote his own songs
The Twist
Original by Hank Ballard
Cover by Ernest Evans – AKA Chubby Checker
Little Richard
-Richard Wayne Penniman sang in local church choir as a child
-merged the fire of gospel with New Orleans R
-washing dishes in a bus stattion in Macon, Georgia; moonlighting as “Little Ricahrd”
– signed to specialty after persistent phone calls
– signed w/ RCA in ’51 after winning a talent contest
– left to become a pastor, but returned
“Tutti Fruitty’-RWP and Pat Boone cover
Joe Turner
-recording of Shake, Rattle, Roll
– strong backbeat, sexually suggestive lyrics
– on its way to #1 on R charts
-on this day BIll Haley & His Comets record a version which will top the pop charts
Atlan Freed
– DJ with nightly radio program in Cleveland that showcased R records, became equally popular with whites and blacks
-Moondog Coronoation Ball’
-first rock concert? 20,000 fans crash the gates
-had to be shut down after one song
-moved to NYC and hosted a rock n’ roll ball w/ R performers as R charts
Bill Haley and the comets
-the comets were originally called the Saddlemen
– country and western singer/guitarist
– covered ‘rocket 88’ and ‘Rock Around the Clock’ blues songs
-first american rock artist to tour UK and is mobbed by 3,000 fans at a train station
-Rock Around the Clock, hits #1 on the charts after show in rowdy teen film, Blackboard Jungle
Sam Phillips
Creator of Sun Records studio
Started as the Memphis Recording Service
Recorded previously unrecorded black, including B.B. King, James Cotton & Howlin’ Wolf
Records had a country song on one side, blues song on the reverse in ‘rockabilly’ style
Created ‘rockabilly’ sound out of country and blues
Electric lead guitar
Acoustic rhythm guitar
String bass (with the slap-bass sound)
Faster tempo or beat
Elvis Presley
Flexible voice and great performer
July 1953- entered Memphis Recording Service to record for his mother My Happiness (18 years old)
He was soon given a contract, ending his career as a truck driverHis popularity spread rock and roll
around the country
Carl Perkins
-played lead guitar, wrote songs, sounded good, didn’t have the look
First song to hit pop, country, and R & B charts at the same time
Sun Label w/ Elvis, JLL, and Johnny Cash
Perkins had a serious accident, damaging his career, after this hit was released
Jerry Lee Lewis
By the time he joined Sun Records
had been thrown out of bible
college, jailed once and married twice
Insisted that his group close all concerts
Will marry his 13-year-old cousin Myra
before second divorce is final
DJ’s stopped playing his records and he got booed off stage in England
Fee goes from $10,000 to $250 per night
Recorded in one take
Went to #1 on Pop, Country and R charts
Roy Orbison
Another country musician who went to Sun Records and went to rockabilly
Great singer and song writer
Buddy Holly
Did NOT have rebellious image-nice guy
Wrote songs about life, had a hiccup singing style like Hank Williams Sr.
Set the template for the standard R band:
Two guitars, bass, and drums.
One of the first in the genre to write, produce, and perform his own songs
Experimented with close mics and echo
Band mates will become the Crickets
Died in a plane crash in ‘59 with J.R. Richardson (The Big Bopper) and Ritchie Valens
Dick Clark
Televised after school
Viewers danced along with kids on TV
Artist lip-synced hits
Dress code, no sexual overtones
Emphasized audience as much as music
Clark saw couple doing a “jerky dance”
Had Chubby Checker (b. Ernest Evans 1941) record The Twist (originally recorded by Hank Ballard)
Lyrics include instructions for the dance
Everyone (from all walks of life) began doing the Twist
Phil Spector
Producer/songwriter at the Brill Building
Eccentric and temperamental perfectionist
The most important producer of girl-group pop
Liked Romantic period composer Richard Wagner –
orchestral style, use of percussion
Influenced the Beach Boys, Beatles, others
Inducted into the R Hall of Fame as a non-performer (‘89)
Spector’s “Wall Of Sound” recording technique
Pumped records with strings, brass, percussion
Monophonic recording technique created “in your face” orchestral sound, not stereo
Ethereal “girl group” sound of the Crystals & Ronettes
Dick Dale
“King of Surf Guitar”
Worked with Leo Fender on amp equipment
Wanted to imitate the roar of the ocean
Experiments led to the first “power guitar” amp
Used Fender effects like reverb and electronic tremolo
Trademark rapid tremolo picking on the guitar
A tune that had been a Greek pop standard in the 1940s
Quick tempo with a rock rhythmic feel
The Beach Boys
Three brothers, a cousin, and a friend
Brian Wilson—leader, and eventually
producer, vocals, bass, and keyboards
Carl Wilson—lead guitar and vocals
Dennis Wilson—drums and vocals
Mike Love—vocals
Al Jardine—guitar and vocals
Started as ‘Pendletones’ then ‘Kenny and the Cadets’, settled on Beach Boys by ‘61
Signed with Capitol Records in 1962 and released twenty-four top 40 hits by 1967
Their hit ‘Surfin’ USA’, ‘63 similar
to Berry’s, ‘Sweet Little 16’, ‘58
The Ventures
instrumental group
big selling band for instrumentals
with two guitarists, bass, and drums
Willie Dixon
blues/ chicago blues
play bass
big stand up guy
sued Led Zepplin
chicago blues composer and bass player
Phil and Leonard Chess
Chess records is founded in Chicago by two polish born jews to promote blues and later rythm and blues
-recorded many of the giants of postwar blues, including Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, John Lee Hooker
Chess, Atlantic, Specialty, imperial, and other independent record labels gave the public music that wasn’t carried by the major labels
Brian Wilson
part of the beach boys
leader, and eventually producer , vocals, bass, and keyboards
influences by phil spector sound
incorporated impressive new ideas into the records
the wrecking crew from the wall of sound productions are the backing musicians here
Pat Boone
did a lot of covers
teen idol
Duane Eddy
known for low tuned twangy guitar
The Who Members
Pete Townshend – guitar/vocals
John Entwistle -bass/Fr. horn
Roger Daltrey -lead vocals
Keith Moon -wild druming