Jimmy McCracklin – Rockin’ All Day

6th December 2021 · 1950, 1950s, Music, Rock'n'Roll

The more I delve into the increasingly wild R&B music being made in the five or six years after World War II, the stranger it seems that most people think rock’n’roll began with Elvis and Bill Haley in the mid-1950s.

Here’s more evidence that it was alive and well long before that – in this case 1950 – and it’s one of the very best.

The irrepressibly bouncy rhythm, the rolling piano, the wildly distorted electric guitar solo, the honking sax solo, the saucy lyrics… all are present and correct. And this was just the B-side of a single called Just Won’t Let Her Go.

Predictably I have never heard it, or even heard of Jimmy McCracklin before, though I now find that Bob Dylan is among the many more informed fans of his seven-decade career.

Once a promising boxer (like several other early rock’n’rollers), James Walker Jr. made his musical name in California when he settled there after serving in the US Navy during the war.

A pianist and singer, he began performing at his a place called Club Savoy, owned by his sister-in-law Willie-Mae ‘Granny’ Johnson who would serve up home-cooked chicken, ribs and collard greens with wine and beer.

Meanwhile, Jimmy and a house band of Bay Area musicians dished up their own tasty recipes, frequently backing visiting musicians like BB King and Charles Brown.

McCracklin made his recording debut in 1945 with a piano blues called Miss Mattie Left Me, followed the next year by Street Loafin’ Woman, before forming his band Jimmy McCracklin and the Blues Blasters.

I believe the guitar player here is their original guitarist Robert Kelton, though it could be Lafayette ‘Thing’ Thomas, who replaced him the year this was released.

McCracklin was also a successful songwriter and one of his songs, Tramp, was a hit single for Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, who performed it as a duet in 1967. He died in 2012 at the ripe old age of 91.