Blues

I’m sure everyone has heard Hound Dog by Elvis. I’m equally sure most have never heard the original, recorded by Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton four years earlier in 1952.
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I have to confess that while I know plenty of music by John Lee Hooker, I didn’t even know the name of his equally talented cousin. (more…)

Here’s another of the songs that shaped rock’n’roll, by one of the most flamboyant characters – and greatest guitarists – of that postwar era. (more…)

Here’s a hard-rocking instrumental by a guitarist who must surely have been a major influence on Chuck Berry.
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Well this is pure filth. And the last thing you’d expect from a god-fearing gal raised in the church. But there you are: Dinah Washington was one of a kind. (more…)

Any appreciation of the roots of rock’n’roll has to include jump blues pianist and singer Floyd Dixon – the self-appointed “Mr Magnificent.” (more…)

Here’s another one of those proto-rock’n’roll tunes from another of those under-appreciated musicians of colour, this time from 1950 by Piney Brown. (more…)

This is another branch in the roots of rock’n’roll, and Johnny Otis was a key figure in many ways, but he may not actually play on this tune. (more…)

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. (more…)

Hank Williams was the first superstar of country music and the architect of rock’n’roll. This was the last song he recorded, in 1952. (more…)