Louis Jordan was already the biggest black music star when he staked his claim for the first rock’n’roll song way back in 1945.
Is this the first rock’n’roll song ever?
For the latest leg of my journey of musical archaeology, I’ve decided to hunt down all the contenders and this example, by Louis Jordan in 1945, is the earliest I can find.
The question will never be definitively answered, and the argument will last for ever, but the rolling bass at the start of Caldonia makes a convincing case to my ears.
No less a source than Billboard magazine described the version by Erskine Hawkins the same year as “right rhythmic rock and roll music” – even though it’s clearly an orchestral swing arrangement.
Louis Jordan’s take is jump blues.
He was already the biggest African-American star of the era, with four number ones to his name on what was variously called the Race Records Chart and the Harlem Hit Parade prior to the instigation of the R&B charts in 1949.
Written by Jordan himself (although credited to his wife, Fleecie Moore), it’s got a humorous lyric about Louis’s love for the titular Caldonia – sitting swinging her legs seductively on the piano next to him – with her “big head” and “great big feet.”
He certainly knew how to flatter a girl.