The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 03, 1998, Page 16, Image 16

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Story by Jason Hardy Illustration by Watt Haney
By Jason Hardy
Senior Reporter
It’s 1952 and Alan Freed sits in a sweaty
Cleveland radio station. He plays music that is
strange and scary to some, but is exciting and new
to others. He calls it rock ’n’rolL
After the 1950s, the musical world was never
the same. A new sound had emerged from the
South and taken America by steam. It was a wild
combination of a number of musical traditions,
mainly rhythm and blues and country and western.
Kids everywhere were entranced by its boogie
beats and its racy lyrics.
From there, rock ’n’ roll commercially explod
ed and turned into an economically viable invest
ment. Legends were made, and history was writ
ten. Rock ’n’ roll was bom.
Randall Snyder, professor of theory and com
position at die University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s
School of Music, said rock ’n’ roll had deep roots
in different Southern styles of music.
“It was the coming together ofblack and while tra
ditions that was the catalyst to start it off?’Snyder said.
He said R&B was the most important ingredi
ent in the creation of rock ’n’ roll. Early musicians
like Muddy Waters and Louis Jordan received air
play on black radio stations and they started to
reach young white audiences. From there, R&B
evolved into rock ’n’ roll.
“It’s really quite clear that most rock is a form
of white mutation of black music,” Snyder said
He said rock ’n’ roll came from the streets of
played the bhies licks and put it to country music.” 1
Burlison said the Rock ’n’ Roll Trio, who i
recorded an album on Coral Records in 1956, was i
among the first groups to play rock ’n’ roll, which \
tne poor
music incubat
ed in the South
where you had
a large black
next to a poor
white one,”
Snyder said.
He _ said
rock ’n’roDwas
in part the lyri
cal honesty of
the blues com
bined with
"If (elVis)
KEpt on He’ D
pReTty Good
E Lectric I An. "
Paul Burlison
Johnny Burnett Rock 'n'
Roll Trio
to mem was just gooa-time music.
“We didn’t really know what was j
going to happen,” Budison said. “We \
were just having a good tone.”
He saidthe’50s provided a perfect j
setting &r a rock’n’roll explosion ,
because people were ready for some- ,
thing new and fun.
“I came along during the ,
Depression and everything was !
gloom,” Buiiison said. “We came out
a^at and went right into World War
n, and it was still gloom. ,
“The’50s came along and that was .
die only time anybody had anymoney
to do anything, so people started play
ing good-time music. You come out 1
with something that people could ■
dance to and people would buy it”
country name.
Paul Burlison, former member of The Johnny
Burnett Rock ’n’ Roll Trio, said he remembered
growing up in Memphis, Tenn., where he first
started playing blues licks.
“My momma wouldn’t let me bring the blues
stuff into the house,” Burlison said. “So 1 just
Buriison said that he went to New York with the 1
Rock ’ii’ Roll Trio in 1956 where the band got a
spot cm a nationally televised talent show. It wasn’t '
long before the boys got a and they
began to notice rock ’n’
“Ws could see it i
on all around us,” •' 1
iurlison said. “It was very exciting. I mean, here
ve are, three country boys in New York at our firsi
ecording session, and tire record company sends
is a 32-piece orchestra.
“They said they didn’t know anything aboui
ock ’n’ roll, but that they’d do what we wantec
hem to, so we said, ‘Ws’ll take your drummer.’”
Buriison said thatbefore the band started going
ilaces, he had worked at Crown Electric Company was there that he met a young mar
lamed Elvis Presley.
“I was an electrician, and when we needec
omething Elvis would bring it out,” Buriison said
‘If he would’ve kept on, he’d have been a pretty
pod electrician.”
Thanks to Sam Phillips and Sun Studios ir
Memphis, Elvis traded in his work boots for son*
due suede shoes.
Philips founded Sun Studios in 1952 and firs
ecorded die likes of Jeny Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins
fohmry Cash, Roy Orbison and, of course, Elvis
Snyder said Phillips saw die economic potential o:
ode ’n’ roll and laid its foundations with Elvis.
“Elvis is huge,” Snyder said. “He became the
quintessential rock hoc.”
He said that aside from bringing black ant
vhite traditions together, Elvis brought a sexuality
o the music, and along with Buddy Holly, Chucl
Berry and Bill Haley, really made rock ’n’ rol
With the advent of compact discs, finding versions
of original songs and albums has become increasingly
easy. From smaller record shops like Homer’s to big
time electronic stores like Best Buy, box sets and
greatest hits albums can be found on disc. However,
original recordings aren’t quite as easily available. -
Here are some shops that do contain classic albums.
In Omaha, Dirt Cheap Records, 1026 Jackson St.,
and Harr}r O’s Groovie Records, 6208 Maple St., are
good places to find vintage vinyl.
In Lincoln, Recycled Sounds, 12110 St., and
Backtrack Records, 3833 S. 48th St., are both stock
piled with countless albums that won’t be found in Best
Kanesville Kollectabtes, 530 S. Fourth St., in
Council Bluffs, has a reputation for cheap, classic
albums and employees who know almost everything
there is to know about music.
Writings about rock ’n’ roll abound
Most libraries have a number of books about rock
’n’ roll, and just about any newsstand has magazines
dedicated to music. Here are a few of the better avail
able choices.
“What Was the First Rock and Roll Record?” by
Jim Dawson and Steve Propes (Faber & Faber, 1992) is
a rather interesting work that is the result of years of
research directed at answering the widely debated ques
tions surrounding rock ’n’ roll’s origins. Besides its his
torical significance, the book is an entertaining read.
“Unsung Heroes of Rock and Roll” by Nick
Tosches (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1984) provides a
worthwhile look at the lives and careers of rock’s lesser
known heroes, as well as die music’s pre-Elvis origins.
me Koumg Mone illustrated History of Kock
& Roll” by Anthony DeCurtis and James Henke with
Holly George- Warren (Random House, Inc., 1992) is a
compilation of essays written by some of die world’s
most respected rock critics and authors, including
Robert Christgau, Peter Guralnick and Robert Palmer.
For publications, one of the best places to turn to is
the original publication, which means Rolling Stone.
This biweekly magazine pretty much covers everything
in music today and is a pretty good source for modem
music news. It can be found anywhere magazines are
Spin stands with Rolling Stone as one of America’s
top music publications. Similar to its competition, this
monthly publication includes interviews and stories
about modem music, with a little more irreverent atti
tude than its predecessor.
For news on rock ’n’ roll outside of America’s bor
ders, Q magazine is a reasonable primer. Published
monthly in England, it takes a rather tongue-in-cheek
approach to music news and gossip, but the magazine’s
writers make up for their lack of straight-laced profes
sionalism with genuine talent and respect for rock
music’s historical significance. Q magazine is available
at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 5150 O St.
Baddy Holly: £
Though his career panned
only two years, Holly com
posed seven top 10 hits, and
with his band the Crickets, set
the standard for rock ’n’ roll
groups that followed. Unlike
Elvis, who sang mostly covers,
Holly was an excellent composer.!
Some of his best recordings include
“From the Original Master Tapes"
(1985, MCA), a 20-track collection o
Holly’s best work; and “The
Holly Collection"
993, MCA), a
two-disc collec
tion that is the first _____
retrospective of Holly s .
music and includes early tracks recorded in die Holly fam
ily garage.
Jerry Lee Lewis: Known as “The Killer” for his crazy
performance style, Lewis soared to the top of the country ,
and western charts as well as the R&B charts in 1957 with ,
songs like “Whole Lot of Shakin’” and “Great Balls ofFire ”
Lewis, anodier performer on the Sun recori label, was head
ing to the top, but in 1958 he married his second cousin,
Myra Brown, and his career vanished overnight. Without
access to big tours, TV shows and radio stations, Lewis was
left to play one-night gigs in dives across America. However,
his characteristic pian(>poimdingbackbeat and the hist and
lewdness of his lyrics made Lewis a legend of rock
j| ’n’ roll. Some of the best Jerry Lee Lewis
recordings are “All Killer, No Filler: The
Anthology” (1993, Rhino), a two-disc ret
rospective of Lewis’ career that fea
tures all of his rock and country hits;
and “18 Original Sun Greatest
Hits” (1984, Rhino), a single-disc
collection feat features all of Lewis’
hits that got him into fee Rock ’n’
Roll Hall of Fame.
Fats Domino: In the ’50s,
many R&B artists found them
selves evolving into what is now
considered rock ’n’ roll. Domino
was one of the early artists who
had a large crossover appeal, most
- ly due to his relaxed vocal style.
With hits like “Blueberry Hill” and
“I’m Walkin,” Domino sold 65 mil
lion records. Some ofhis best releases
are “My Blue Heaven: Best of Fats
Domino” (1990, EMI America), a solid
sounding, well-thought-out collection of
Domino’s best work; and “They Call Me
the Fat Man: The Legendary Imperial
Recordings” (1991, EMI America), a four
disc, 100-song compilation that includes
every hit Domino had.
Little Richard: Also primarily considered
a mostly R&B artist, Little Richard reigned in
popularity by combining gospel-style
singing with high energy and fast tempos.
He was unique, in the ’50s especially, for
having a rather androgynous stage
appearance. But his hits, like “Tutti
Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Good
Golly Miss Molly” set him apart
immediately. Some good releases
include “18 Greatest Hits” (1985,
Rhino), a package that contains
many of his most popular works;
and “The Georgia Pfeach” (1991,
Specialty), which has been called
the best of Little Richards great
est hits compilations.
i . , ,
- Chuck Berry: Berry was
the first
elected to
.... the Rock n
Roll Hall of Fame, and deservedly so. He added country
and western to R&B for a big crossover audience and was
the first important rock ’n’ roll composer. Before going to
prison in 1959 for a violation of the Mann Act, Berry
released rock ’n’ roll classics such as “Jonny B. Goode”
and “Roll Over Beethoven.” Some of his best releases are
“The Great Twenty-Eight” (1982, Chess), a single-disc
compilation that includes all of Berry’s original Chess
Records hits like “Maybellene” and “Sweet Little
Sixteen”; and “The Chess Beat” (1988, Chess), a three
disc set that follows Berry’s career from his ’50s classics to
his ’70s hits, covering everything in between