inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #51 of 177: Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Wed 18 Jan 17 07:50
    <scribbled by jonsson Wed 18 Jan 17 08:34>
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #52 of 177: Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Wed 18 Jan 17 08:34
    
The fluid border between the 'genres' is fascinating to explore, for
instance how R&B and Country are connected via Ray Charles and even
Motown.

Speaking of which, were/Are there any live Motown Revue shows
compiled or released on LP/CD or film/video? 

Also Ed are you any relation to Wade and Fields Ward from the
Bogtrotters?
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #53 of 177: Ed Ward (captward) Wed 18 Jan 17 09:37
    
#50: That's a subtext in the latter half of the book which will
really flower in the second volume: the extent to which the audience
became the content provider, and wound up controlling the business. 

#52: A lot of poor people relished entertainment that they could
access through a cheap radio, so that the Grand Ole Opry and the
Chicago Barndance and the Louisiana Hayride had large black
listenerships. I believe there's a part in Carl Perkins' book about
a black family in his sharecropper compound who hosted listening
parties, and I believe Bobby Bland told a similar story. 

But no, those aren't my Wards. 
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #54 of 177: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Wed 18 Jan 17 19:18
    
By the way, while it's sort of a side trip in R&R history (except
for its influence on the nascent Beatles), thanks for the chapter on
Skiffle music.  Other than having heard Lonnie Donegan do "Rock
Island Line" I knew pretty much none of that stuff.

Ok, back to the audience...

Am I right in thinking that another subtext in the book is that the
further you go into the 1950s, the younger the audience gets?

To go way back, the implied audience for most R&B hits in the late
1940s seems to be adults who might have had a bit to drink ("Oh
Richard, won't you open that door!"). By the mid 1950s that stuff is
still around (Carl Perkins "Dixie Fried," for example), but the
music starts to be focused much more on teenagers.  And as you point
out is often performed by teenagers. 

By the early 1960s, I'm going to guess that a good chunk of the
audience is actually older children, especially girls (all those
fanatical "transistor sisters").  Might account for the juvenile
quality people note in some of the hits of the immediate pre-Beatles
period.  You bet it's juvenile - it was being sold to juveniles!

I guess age of audience is another way of parsing out musical trends
and eras.  This would be in volume II, but you see adult-focused
music gloriously re-emerge in the classic soul music of the later
1960s and early 1970s, which is very definitely *not* about
teenagers.
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #55 of 177: Ed Ward (captward) Thu 19 Jan 17 09:40
    
Skiffle was basically third-hand second-wave American folk revival,
from the Weavers' era, done through a transatlantic filter, but it
was one of the first instances of the audience making its own music.
Also, Ramblin' Jack Elliot was in Britain making trouble, being
worshipped for his authenticity, and pretending to be a cowboy, not
the New York Jewish dentist's son he really was. 

But you're right about the audience getting younger: I was 8 when I
first started listening to rock and roll, totally not interested in
falling in love, girls, dancing, and so on. Why did it appeal to me?
Good question. Let me get back to you, but don't hold your breath.
Part of it was the incessant flood of ten-day-wonder novelty
records: teenage angst would get interrupted on the radio by the
Purple People Eater or Buchanan and Goodman's "Flying Saucer" or
other "break-in" records. 

Adults, though, were always there. Those R&B records had two
audiences: don't forget that back then, the primary market for them
wasn't consumers, it was jukeboxes, and that a *lot* of consumers
bought records from junk shops where worn out jukebox records were
dumped. The performers played clubs where young, but drinking-age,
black people went to dance and have a good time. In L.A., at the end
of Central Avenue was Watts, which was more "country" black folks,
and where a more guitar-centered, back-home vibe obtained. Those
people didn't play the joints that Roy Milton, for instance, played.
Milton's audience not only had those young-ish black people, but
black jazz fans, slumming. (When they weren't slumming, they were
listening to Oscar Moore, Charles Brown, Nat King Cole, and Billy
Eckstine). 

But black teenagers in the late '40s? Forget it. They didn't have
any disposable income and wouldn't until the mid-'50s. But that was
the point where groups like the Platters were winning adult ears,
and Dinah Washington and Ruth Brown were having rock and roll hits. 
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #56 of 177: Scott Underwood (esau) Thu 19 Jan 17 09:58
    
I wonder if part of what happened was that these songs were just
*catchier*, partly because the drums were more prominent and partly
because the music was simpler and more repetitive. Previously, pop
music had a complexity and sophistication that was beyond most people's
abilities, but true folk music had always been somewhat easy to play
and follow along with. Once that simplicity (and those jungle-y drums)
hit the airwaves, it found a post-war generation at just the right time.

It's a bit like what happened with punk twenty years later, and there
was almost that same DIY sense that this hot new music was available to
almost anyone.
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #57 of 177: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Thu 19 Jan 17 10:05
    
Ah, I never thought about $$ being the difference between Black
teenagers and white teenagers in that era, but it's painfully
obvious once you say it.

I also only dimly realized, until I read the book, just how
important jukeboxes were.  I knew that jukebox sales were closely
tracked, but I didn't understand that they were an important source
of sales - *and* an important source of used records for sale.

I have a record collector friend who talks about finding Black
"party records" from that era - meaning records so worn out that
it's like they had a party and danced on them.  I'll bet the records
he's talking about are actually ex-jukebox records.

Another way the book wised me up: I thought there was some grand
hidden logic to the incredibly disparate black music being produced
at that time, which ranges from super-sophisticated to utterly
low-down and rural.  Nope, just different sub-audiences within the
Black community (which of course, varied by local history and
migration patterns).

Central Avenue in L.A. is a great case in point - while white
hipsters like Jack Kerouac were grooving to Charlie Parker, other
clubs on the same street were featuring the likes of Wynonie Harris
singing "Good Morning Judge" and "Don't Roll Those Bloodshot Eyes at
Me."  (I love Wynonie Harris, but talk about the other end of the
sophistication continuum...).

And that last one slipped in.
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #58 of 177: Ed Ward (captward) Thu 19 Jan 17 10:47
    
I'll grab <mcdee>'s comments first here. 

I would have thought that "party records" referred to dirty comedy
routines like Nipsy Russell and Redd Foxx and the like, but between
cheap plastic on which the records were pressed, the really heavy
stylus pressure that jukeboxes (especially ones that played the
records vertically) exerted, and operators not changing them as
often as was necessary, I can see that. 

The black-teenage protest record about economics that counts is "Get
A Job" by the Silhouettes. Listen to the lyrics carefully: the guy's
mother wants him to find a job, "every morning, get the paper/I read
it through and through" but there isn't any work. Then he goes home
and has to put up with his mother "preachin' and cryin'/Tell me that
I'm lyin' about a job/That I never could find." This is of a piece
with Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business" and the Coasters'
"Shoppin' For Clothes," which are less of a folk expression, being
written by older, and professional, songwriters, but aimed squarely
at the same problem. 

And the folks on Central, down at the end where the Texas-born
railroad workers were living in Watts, where the streets weren't
even paved yet, were going to Johnny Otis' Barrelhouse and listening
to stuff like Pee Wee Crayton and Smokey Smothers, a big degree of
sophistication below Wynonie Harris. 
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #59 of 177: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 19 Jan 17 10:56
    
And Skiffle tracks right to the Beattle's who started out as a
skiffle band.
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #60 of 177: Ed Ward (captward) Thu 19 Jan 17 10:57
    
And <esau> has a point, too: the teenagers' tunes were more, if you
will, bubblegummy, in part because the people creating them weren't
in their late 20s and early 30s and with an ear attuned to jazz. One
reason Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers' "Why Do Fools Fall In Love"
was such a smash was because it combined contemporary vocal group
singing techniques with a much more sophisticated harmonic structure
than the standard ones, but with lyrics written by a real
13-year-old. Compare it to "I'm Not A Juvenile Delinquent," which
wasn't quite as spontaneous a production and you'll hear the
difference. 

Those stories of groups discovered singing in echo-y subway stations
and beneath lampposts were real, although the best vocal groups had
at least some church background. And rockabilly, well, that was pure
alcohol and hormones in the South, which is why most of the labels
who'd made big bucks with rhythm and blues had no idea what to do
with it, and Sun (and King, which had always paid attention to the
fringes of country, because they weren't in Nashville) cleaned up
for a while.
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #61 of 177: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 19 Jan 17 10:58
    
<57> Jukeboxes and pool halls were IT! in my day, and generally
where you met up with other subcultures as well. 
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #62 of 177: Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Thu 19 Jan 17 14:16
    
It's all slightly before my time.

In any case enjoying the book, as mentioned before it turns my 20-30
minute commute into a 4 minute commute, and has nearly caused me to
forget to get off at my subway station several times.

Related youtube search's have reconnected me with both artists
(mentioned and not mentioned in the book) Percy Mayfield, Jerry
Butler, Dock Boggs, and stellar roots acts like the Bogstompers. 

The entire thing is like turning on NPR and having the pleasant
surprise of hearing one of Ed Ward's RnR history vignettes, at
anytime of the day.

One detail was the class thing and how it related to people getting
into music in England. Remember when was the last time a member of
English royalty/aristocracy posed next to a guitar... its usually a
tank, a horse (fox hunt?) sort of thing. Later on groups like Pink
Floyd were in a different category.

You mention the Beatles being of "middle class" background but in
the rubble and scramble of UK post-WWII, I'm not so sure if how the
Beatles lived as children & teenagers compared to anything their
"middle class" contemporaries in the USA experienced during the same
period of time. 

Ed (correct me if I'm wrong) but I was under the impression for
Ringo and Paul at least taking a bath during their early years
required going to some kind of bath-house-for-pay type operation, as
well plugging coins into a pay as you go heater was hardly USA
standard middle class central heating.
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #63 of 177: Ed Ward (captward) Thu 19 Jan 17 15:47
    
The Beatles *were* middle-class, though. Paul and George both had
good educations and good jobs, Ringo's folks were perhaps not as
well off as theirs but they did okay, and John, being raised by his
single aunt, was something of an anomaly, but Mimi was *very*
respectably middle-class, which is why John, before his mother's
death, was living with her. 

Comparing their middle class with the one we grew up in over here
just can't be done: the Beatles all grew up with wartime rationing,
because England had a very slow post-war recovery. Who can forget
Paul rhapsodizing over "chip butties," which were sandwiches of
white-bread rolls (butties) with french fries inside them, doubtless
sprinkled with salt and vinegar. These were treats for them. And
part of the youth culture that exploded in England along with the
Beatles was based on the fact that rationing had ended, and for the
first time you could buy as much of whatever you wanted, if you had
the money. 

They still ate chip butties on the Liverpool waterfront, though. 
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #64 of 177: U.K. Blues-rock question (jonsson) Fri 20 Jan 17 01:34
    
Thanks for the answer I think it was Ringo not Paul (now that I
remember) who in a BBC documentary interview talked about the public
pay-for-a-bath situation. 

Paul as well in a BBC interview about the 60s Motown invasion
compared   his band's working class upbringing & living standards in
Liverpool to that of the US R&B artists. Perhaps its hyperbole on
Paul's part.

It's been said elsewhere the UK's attachment to the blues is based
on the WWII & post WWII realities of the situation there. 

From your point of view in the 50s and 60s was the UK interest in
blues music proportional to other American based or derived forms of
music? 
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #65 of 177: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 20 Jan 17 03:58
    
Thinking of where and how rock and roll was heard, the transition
from radios to tv, like American Bandstand, where the typical kid
review of a new song was "nice beat, and you can dance to it"...

And Sock Hops:
Sock hops were held early as 1944 by the American Junior Red Cross
to raise funds during World War II.[2] They then became a fad among
American teenagers in 1948.[3] Sock hops were commonly held at high
schools and other educational institutions, often in the school gym
or cafeteria. The term came about because dancers were required to
remove their hard-soled shoes to protect the varnished floor of the
gymnasium.[4] The music at a sock hop was usually played from vinyl
records, sometimes presented by a disc jockey.[4] Occasionally there
were also live bands. The popularity of sock hops coined the phrase
Bobby soxer; which described the fans of Traditional pop music.

In later years, "hops" became strongly associated with the 1950s and
early rock and roll.[4] Danny and the Juniors sang "At the Hop" in
1957, which named many popular dances and otherwise documented what
happened at a hop.[5] In subsequent decades, with the widespread
popularity of sneakers and other types of indoors-only shoes, the
practice of removing shoes was dropped. The term then came to be
applied more generally to any informal dance for teenagers.[6]

Just the whole mix of how the music was heard and delivered and then
socially expressed all the way up to the ecstasy raves. Was there a
break out moment when rock and roll had wiggled its way in to the
mainstream?
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #66 of 177: David Wilson (dlwilson) Fri 20 Jan 17 08:32
    
Speaking of Central Ave. in LA I always found that by thinking of a
continuum of T-bone Walker at one end, Charles Brown in the middle,
and Nat Cole at the other end, you could see where the blues, blues
ballad, and jazz performers fit in by who they were influenced by. 
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #67 of 177: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 20 Jan 17 08:51
    
>>It's been said elsewhere the UK's attachment to the blues is based
on the WWII & post WWII realities of the situation there. 

From your point of view in the 50s and 60s was the UK interest in
blues music proportional to other American based or derived forms of
music? 

I think, and I thought I made it clear in the book, that the London
jazz scene's interest in blues was as a subset of jazz that some of
the younger fans decided was of more interest than the jazz was,
especially after American bluesmen started appearing at the jazz
clubs. Then they made the connection between blues and skiffle --
mostly the DIY aspect of it -- and started tryin git themselves. I'm
not sure what you mean about the interest being proportional; it's
not exactly a quantifiable thing. 
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #68 of 177: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 20 Jan 17 08:59
    
Re: that continuum. Not exactly. Johnny Moore, the guitarist who led
the Three Blazers, whose vocalist was Charles Brown, was the brother
of Oscar Moore, who was Cole's guitarist. Both of them had big hits,
but Cole was able to play white clubs in Hollywood, and Johnny Moore
wasn't, for some reason. Of course, the Three Blazers had two big
hits, "Driftin' Blues" and "Merry Christmas, Baby," both of which
were sung by Charles Brown, who then went solo. I'd put the
continuum from Pee-Wee Crayton to Charles Brown to Dexter Gordon,
although it's fun to remember that Ornette Coleman played alto in
Pee-Wee's band. 
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #69 of 177: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Fri 20 Jan 17 10:45
    
Pee Wee Crayton was just a name to me.  I'm listening on youtube
now.  Likable music. Lots of honking sax. Sounds like he was trying
to be Johnny Guitar Watson, but with about 1/4 of his chops.
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #70 of 177: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 20 Jan 17 11:34
    
Always thought the Howlin Wolf London Sessions was
historical...where he teaches Clapton et al how to play the blues;
not that they did not already have some familiarity with it.But
that's next volume
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #71 of 177: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 20 Jan 17 18:37
    
Well, according to Wikipedia (hate referring to them, but all my
books are in boxes after the flood), Johnny Guitar Watson was, like
Pee Wee, from Texas: Johnny from Houston and Pee-Wee from Austin
(although it was his being taken up by Johnny Otis in LA that made
his career).
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #72 of 177: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sat 21 Jan 17 11:32
    
So what *was* the moment when, as Ted asked, rock and roll wriggled
into the mainstream?

Dick Clark's show going national?  Alan Freed moving to NYC?
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #73 of 177: Ed Ward (captward) Sat 21 Jan 17 11:40
    
I don't think we can point at a moment. It was incremental, as more
and more younng people -- the rat in the python of the baby boom --
started voting with their allowances. I don't think it became the
default popular music of the US, or even the world, until the early
'70s. But I think the folk boom gave it an inital boost, for putting
guitars in the hands of kids and making them see how easy it was to
play basic chords and stuff. A great many folk guitarists graduated
to electric and took their repertoire with them. But that's Vol. 2. 
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #74 of 177: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sat 21 Jan 17 12:03
    
So, skirting the edge of Vol. 1, there's a widespread perception
that sort of goes like follows:

1) Elvis was really cool at first.
2) Then Elvis went into the Army and Buddy Holly died.
3) After that everything sucked until the Beatles showed up.

I've actually read multiple articles and book chapters which point
at the same song as characteristic of the period: "Itsy Bitsy Teeny
Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" by Bryan Hyland.

Even overlooking the fact that "Itsy Bitsy" is actually a pretty
swell piece of pop craftsmanship, what does this view overlook?
  
inkwell.vue.496 : History of Rock and Roll - Volume 1
permalink #75 of 177: Scott Underwood (esau) Sat 21 Jan 17 12:03
    
I really look forward to that, because I think the first book does a great
job of laying out the foundation for what was to come, the funhouse mirror
effect of white Americans inspired by white Brits doing black American
songs, how folk music continued to be a presence, and the effect of new
playing and listening technologies.
  

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