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.

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…)

There weren’t many women involved in the birth of rock’n’roll. And there were even fewer Native American artists. Kay Starr was both.


I can’t find out much about Jimmy Smith, except that this one is not the famous jazz musician of the same name, who popularised the Hammond B-3 organ that became a signature sound in soul music. (more…)

It’s easy to imagine an electrified audience getting down to do the Twist the moment they heard this tune in 1948. Except that the Twist wouldn’t be invented for another decade. (more…)

Roy Brown may not be a household name but he is another of the under-appreciated innovators of the pre-rock’n’roll era, and a big influence on everyone from Elvis to Little Richard. (more…)