Oh yeah, I just love the sounds of the Hellcasters and my theme song from Henri Mancini, Peter Gunn.
Today I have a really great show for you with many hits that form the roots of rock’n roll. With music from Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, The Monotones, Howlin Wolf, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Muddy Waters and Dale Hawkins. That’s one hour filled with the some of the best roots of rock and roll you can find. What an hour of amazing hits lined up for you.
Remember to visit RicksRadio.com for more information on the music I play for you here. With only an hour Ricks Radio show just cannot use the time allotment for words and I would rather just give you the information about the song and get on with the music.
Mas musica, menos palabras porque las musica es mas importante que yo.
More music, less words because music is more important than me.
I am going to start the show with the famous Eddie Cochran. Eddie Cochran is one of the first rock and roll artists to write his own songs and multi-track his songs. Cochran is also credited with being the first to use an unwound third string in order to “bend” notes up a whole tone, which has since become an essential part of the standard rock guitar. Artists such as The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, Tom Petty, Rod Stewart, Motörhead, Humble Pie, T. Rex, Brian Setzer, Cliff Richard, The Who, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Sex Pistols, Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, and Jimi Hendrix have covered his songs. To get us started I have for you one of his big hits,
Our next selection is from a friend of Eddie Cochran and was actually there when Cochran died in a British Cab. He was Gene Vincent another great innovator of rock and rockabilly. While on tour in the UK, Vincent, Eddie Cochran, and songwriter Sharon Sheeley were involved in a high-speed traffic accident in a private hire taxi in Chippenham, Wiltshire. Vincent broke his ribs and collarbone and further damaged a weakened leg. Sheeley suffered a broken pelvis. Cochran, who had been thrown from the vehicle, suffered serious brain injuries and died the next day. Vincent returned to the States after the accident.
In 1956 Gene Vincent wrote “Be-Bop-A-Lula“, which became a number one hit and No. 102 on Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Rock and Roll Songs of All Time.” Local radio DJ “Sheriff Tex” Davis arranged for the song to be demoed and this secured him a contract with Capitol Records.
Vincent signed a publishing contract with Bill Lowery of The Lowery Group of music publishers in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1956 Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps took Be Bop A Lula to the top ten hit list and it is considered a significant early example of rockabilly. He is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
So, for all you rockers out there here is Gene Vincent and
That was Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps doing “Be-Bop-A-Lula.”
My next pick comes from “Chuck” Berry born October 18, 1926 as Charles Edward Anderson, an American guitarist, singer and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music.
His hits “Maybellene” in 1955, “Roll Over Beethoven” in 1956, “Rock and Roll Music” in 1957 and “Johnny B. Goode” in 1958, allowed Chuck Berry to refine and develop rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive. His songs were the focus of teen life and consumerism and utilizing amazing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music.
After a troubled youth, where he served a prison sentence for armed robbery between 1944 and 1947, he got married and settled into a job at an automobile assembly plant. In the early 1950’s the guitar riffs and showmanship techniques of blues player T-Bone Walker influenced him. His big break came when he traveled to Chicago in May 1955, and met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess at Chess Records. With Chess he recorded “Maybellene,” which sold over a million copies, reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s Rhythm and Blues chart.
So now let’s take a trip back into rock’s history and Chuck Berry’s hit
“Johnny B. Goode”
The next artist on the Ricks Radio show is Bo Diddly. Born as Ellas Otha Bates in 1928 he is known by his stage name Bo Diddley. An American rhythm and blues vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, and rock and roll pioneer, he was also known as The Originator because of his key role in the transition from the blues to rock. His music influenced a treasure trove of acts, including Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground, The Who, The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles. He introduced more insistent, driving rhythms and a hard-edged electric guitar sound along with African rhythms and a signature beat that remains a cornerstone of rock and pop. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and a Grammy Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He was known in particular for his technical innovations, including his trademark rectangular guitar.
In late 1954, he teamed up with harmonica player Billy Boy Arnold, drummer Clifton James, and bass player Roosevelt Jackson, and recorded demos of “I’m A Man” and “Bo Diddley”. They re-recorded the songs at Chess Studios with a backing ensemble comprising Otis Spann (piano), Lester Davenport (harmonica), Frank Kirkland (drums), and Jerome Green (maracas). The record was released in March 1955, and the A-side, “Bo Diddley”, became a No. 1 R&B hit.
Ricks Radio is proud to present that hit, “I’m A Man” by Bo Diddley
Ah yeah, now we know where Mick Jagger picked up his attitude and that was Bo Diddley with “I’m A Man.”
This is really a great lineup of music and next up is none other than Charles Hardin Holley, better known as Buddy Holly. Holly was a Texas singer-songwriter and a pioneer of rock and roll. Although his success lasted only a year and a half before his death in an airplane crash, Holly has been described as “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.” His works and innovations inspired and influenced contemporary and later musicians, notably The Beatles, Elvis Costello, The Rolling Stones, Don McLean, Bob Dylan, Steve Winwood, and Eric Clapton, and his work exerted a profound influence on popular music ever since. Holly was among the first group of inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and in 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Holly No. 13 among “The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.
So I present to you one of his rare hits “Rave.”
I am sure there is little I can add to your knowledge of my next choice pick, Elvis Presley. Is there anyone in the world who does not know Elvis, please call in now to radio WWW and let us know! Actually I think people who don’t know Elvis don’t listen to radio anyway, so let’s forget them!
Elvis is the king of rock and roll and that was not self-proclaimed like Michael Jackson did with his king of pop. Presley is one of the most important figures of 20th-century popular culture as well as music. His versatile voice and unusually wide success encompassed many genres, including country, pop ballads, gospel, and blues. He is the best-selling solo artist in the history of popular music. He was nominated for 14 competitive Grammies; he won three, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36. He has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame.
I met Elvis back in 1957 when he was touring to Chicago. He had been hold up in a motel on Western Avenue in Cicero right near my house. I was so small and young but my neighbor was a big 16 year old with his own vespa and was kind enough to ask me to come along and meet the future king of rock. We went over to the motel and knocked on his back window and he actually let us in! That was when I decided I wanted to play guitar too!
With all the hits known to Elvis I am going to play a rare tune, which I hope you have never heard. I give you Elvis Presley and “Baby Let’s Play House.”
My next choice is not really for the band, but the song. The Monotones were a six-member African American doo-wop vocal group from the 1950s and even though they did not produce a slew of hits they did leave a mark on the rock world with what they did do. They are considered a one-hit wonder, as their only hit single was “The Book of Love”, which peaked at #5 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1958. So my next selection is
The Monotones and “The Book of Love.”
Next up is Chester Arthur Burnett known better as Howlin’ Wolf. He was an influential American blues singer, guitarist, and harmonica player born in West Point, Mississippi, which is now known as White Station.
Howlin Wolf’s booming voice and looming physical presence he is highly ranked among the leading performers in electric blues. Cub Koda declared, “no one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.” A number of songs written or popularized by Howlin Wolf like “Smokestack Lightnin'”, “Back Door Man”, “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful” have become blues and blues rock standards.
Once again I am going to give you a rare track of Howlin Wolf called
“No Place To Go.”
We move on to another great 50’s hit from another amazing artist, Dale Hawkins.
Delmar Allen “Dale” Hawkins (August 22, 1936 – February 13, 2010) was a pioneer American rock singer, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist who was often called the architect of swamp rock boogie. Fellow rockabilly pioneer Ronnie Hawkins was his cousin.
In 1957, Hawkins was playing at Shreveport, Louisiana clubs, and although his music was influenced by the new rock and roll style of Elvis Presley and the guitar sounds of Scotty Moore, Hawkins blended that with the uniquely heavy blues sound of black Louisiana artists for his recording of his swamp-rock classic, “Susie Q.” Fellow Louisiana guitarist, James Burton, provided the signature riff and solo. The song was chosen as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version of the song on their 1968 debut album helped launch their career and today it is probably the best-known version.
So, I give you now the famous Dale Hawkins hit, “Susie Q”
My next artist pick is none other than Ray Charles Robinson, better known as Ray Charles. Charles became a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records. He also helped racially integrate country and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, most notably with his Modern Sounds albums and an incident in Georgia. He was contracted to do a concert but as he got on stage he found out it was whites only and the blacks had to be outside. He told the audience why he was not going to play and left the stage, the city and the state.
While with ABC records, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to be given artistic control by a mainstream record company. Frank Sinatra called Charles “the only true genius in show business,” although Charles was modest and never believed that about himself.
Ray Charles’ early influences were mainly jazz, blues, rhythm and blues and country artists of the day such as Art Tatum, Nat King Cole, Louis Jordan, Charles Brown, and Louis Armstrong. His playing reflected influences from country blues, barrelhouse and stride piano styles.
Rolling Stone ranked Charles number ten on their list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” in 2004,and number two on their November 2008 list of “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”.
Ray was married 2 times but had a dozen children from 9 women. It is for this reason I picked my next selection, “I Got A Woman.”
We go on next to an amazing talent who has reason to sing the blues but kept to rock’n roll. We are talking Jerry Lee Lewis, an American rock and roll icon, country music singer-songwriter and pianist. He is known by the nickname “The Killer” for his handling of the piano and performance and is often viewed as “rock & roll’s first great wild man”.
Jerry Lee was an early pioneer of rock and roll music. In 1956 Lewis made his first recordings at Sun Records including his hit “Crazy Arms” which sold 300,000 copies in the southern states. But it was his 1957 hit “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” that shot Lewis to fame worldwide. Lewis followed this in that same year when he recorded songs such as “Great Balls of Fire”, “Breathless” and “High School Confidential”. Lewis’s singles elevated his career as a soloist by 1957, with hits “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire.” These hits started to bring him international fame despite criticism for the songs’ having overtly sexual undertones prompting some radio stations to boycott them.
As part of his stage act, Lewis would often kick the piano bench aside and play standing, rake his hands up and down the keyboard for dramatic accent, sit on the keyboard and even stand on top of the instrument.
Lewis sold more records than Elvis Presley at this time. However, Lewis’ rock ‘n’ roll career was set to falter in the wake of a marriage to his young cousin.
Lewis’s turbulent personal life was hidden from the public until a May 1958 British tour where Ray Berry, a news agency reporter at London’s Heathrow Airport (the only journalist present), learned about Lewis’s third wife, Myra Gale Brown. She was Lewis’s first cousin once removed and was only 13 years old at the time. Brown, Lewis, and his management all insisted that she was 15 while Jerry Lee Lewis was 22 years old. The publicity caused an uproar and the tour was cancelled after only three concerts.
The scandal followed Lewis home to the US, and as a result, he was blacklisted from radio and almost vanished from the music scene.
In 2005, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” was selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress and I present to you one of the most rocking tunes I remember, so here is…
“Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”
Now I have a little diddy from the grand master of style, Little Richard! He was the first of a kind and cannot be duplicated. Little Richard, whose slicked long hair and wild eyes were a trademark, set the road for so many freak bands down the line. Power on the stage that was Little Richard.
I am so happy to play “You Keep on Knocking But You Cant Come in!”
Lets take this down a peg and move over to Chicago and hear some real blues. We got Muddy Waters all cued up for you and you will now be treated to an intimate performance where each string you hear twisting the blues. His vibrato, his close touch with the sounds scream the blues, and Chicago blues is here!
Let’s hear from Muddy Waters and his “HONEY BEE”
Well, were going back to another artist I played earlier. Some real hard blues played right on the street. How many times these guys played the Maxwell Market back in the day. I remember going down there on Sundays for the market and watched these guys. Sometimes they were in the coolest sharkskin suits, sometimes just the black jacket and tie. I love the blues, born in Chicago, Southside!
So here is Howlin Wolf with HOW MANY MORE YEARS
Were going back to a legend in rock and that is Chuck Berry. We played one of his earlier hits but this is another one that was a big influence on so many bands. I can see chuck doing his chicken walk across the stage, it was something to see.
Chuck Berry and Roll Over Beethoven.
How about Little Richard, that wild man! Long Tall Sally! Yeah, come on Little Richard.
Baby, there will be some fun tonight! Go Little Richard.
We are going back to Muddy Waters now. Why? He is a huge influence on bands like the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and tons of others. This song is something you have heard already from other bands, but this is the real deal. Right from the man, Muddy. Did I tell you I met him once in Chicago personally? Driving in Evanston, Illinois late one night I was at a stop light and next to me was a really cool 1958 Oldsmobile, fins and all, covered with chromes and there was this huge guy in the drivers seat. We yelled out giving him kudos for such a cool car. He rolled his window down and asked if we like the blues. We let him know and off we went to Rush Street in an underground dive where we heard songs like this,
Muddy Waters doing Rollin and Tumblin’
Now I am heading back to Eddie Cochran as one of my last selections. I picked his ode to rock and hot rods. Twenty Flight Rock.
That’s it for this weeks show. See ya’ll next week!