Tag Archives: rock & roll history

Wanna see jitterbug? Wanna hear rock & roll?

Check out this video:

The tune, “Slow Down”, is performed on piano and sung by its composer, Larry Williams. He was from New Orleans (of course). The tune, ringing with ninth chords, was released on disc in 1958. I think that the dancers are from a 1950s Hollywood rock & roll movie. Larry also composed Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Bad Boy, and Bony Moronie — classic rock tunes, all. He was born in 1935 and died on this date, January 7, in 1980.

In the mid-1950s, Williams inherited star billing from Little Richard (who’d forsaken rock and roll for religion) at New Orleans’ record label Specialty Records.

While Williams was alive, the Beatles paid their respects by admirably covering Larry’s Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Slow Down, and Bad Boy. I’m amazed that Larry Williams isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Extra credit assignment: Compare and contrast the Beatles’ cover of Slow Down with Larry Williams’ original. This clip includes the fab four wailing in Liverpool’s Cavern Club: (If YouTube has taken down this video clip, you can hear the same recording with groovy rock and roll clips (sorry — requires Flash) from 1950s America and early Beatles. Sorry for the Flash format.)

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Prelude to Rock & Roll

Before rock got rolling, hundreds of tributaries were converging: blues, gospel, bebop, boogie woogie, rhythm and blues, country, hillbilly. Go to YouTube and listen to and watch Hank Williams, Louie Jordan, and Big Joe Turner. The Juke in the Back website collects those seminal tunes from the 1940s and 50s and adds detailed documentation. Little RichardI’m listening via Tunein to Episode 176, the earliest recordings of Little Richard, as I write this.

Terri Gross’ NPR program Fresh Air also has a well-done audio rock & roll history series by Ed Ward: Fresh Air Rock History. Mr. Ward weaves together the up and down lives of not only the musicians, but the record labels, recording engineers, deejays, agents, and promoters. Mr. Ward also covers artists of the 1960s and 70s.

When dinosaurs roamed the earth
These guys paint a chaotic picture of the early rock music scene. I vaguely recall listening to an assortment of country, gospel, and blues when I was a boy in the early 1950s. I first heard Elvis in 1955, then Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis. My world changed.

Caldonia / Louis Jordan:

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695