Elvis brought rock ‘n’ roll to the main­stream

Macclesfield Express - - GARRY THE HAT WHAT’S ON -

AF­TER writ­ing about the 50th an­niver­sary of the his­toric Sun Stu­dio ses­sions from Elvis Pres­ley, I re­alised that whilst it was true it wasn’t by any means the com­plete pic­ture.

I de­scribed his de­but re­lease of ‘That’s al­right Mama’ as the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.

More ac­cu­rately it was the birth of the rock ‘n’ roll idol in the main­stream.

The mu­sic al­ready ex­isted as it had been evolv­ing for years from the world of black rhythm and blues.

Black pi­anists such as Fats Waller and Fats Domino had been prime movers in its devel­op­ment out of bar­rel­house blues pi­ano.

Many black blues gui­tarists were cre­at­ing a slightly dif­fer­ent ver­sion and it was even­tu­ally a cer­tain Mr Chuck Berry who cre­ated the de­fin­i­tive rock’n’roll chops on the elec­tric six stringer that would be copied, em­u­lated and mu­tated by a com­plete gen­er­a­tion (and sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions) of copy­cats on both sides of the At­lantic, all lead­ing to the for­ma­tion of this new genre and oth­ers that fol­lowed.

The black ver­sions, as had always been the case with black any­thing, were ig­nored if not sup­pressed by the Amer­i­can mu­sic me­dia as they were con­sid­ered sub­ver­sive, de­gen­er­ate and dan­ger­ous.

How­ever, they were re­gres­sive enough not to no­tice that there was a mas­sive change hap­pen­ing in youth cul­ture.

It was in fact the first time in his­tory that youth was ravenous for its own cul­ture, what’s more, sub­ver­sive de­gen­er­ate and dan­ger­ous fit­ted the bill per­fectly.

When Sam Phillips opened up Sun Stu­dio and Sun Records in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee in Jan­uary 1950 he knew a mas­sive change was com­ing.

There had been plenty of signs to pick up on, the 40s had given the world its first teeny bop idol in Frank Si­na­tra and the seeds were sown.

The lindy hop­pers had made their pres­ence felt mas­sively in the na­tion’s ball­rooms danc­ing to the likes of Count Basie’s and Duke Elling­ton’s (and many other) big bands. Youth wanted more.

Sam in­stinc­tively knew where to look.

Un­der­ground black mu­sic was ex­cit­ing. He con­tro­ver­sially courted black mu­si­cians and recorded any of them that wanted to have a go.

He set up a ‘record­ing ser­vice’ where any­one, for a (very) nom­i­nal sum could cut a demo.

Some­times the sum was zero if he felt an artist was wor­thy of deeper con­sid­er­a­tion.

Many were signed to Sun records and had rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’roll hits with him.

One such record­ing was Bear Cat, by DJ Ru­fus Thomas.

In 1953 it was the la­bel’s first hit and is ef­fec­tively the song ‘Hound Dog’, by Big Mama Thorn­ton, which was no­tably a colos­sal global hit later for Elvis.

Sam recorded many artists whom he would li­cense to other la­bels for re­lease.

Such no­ta­bles as BB King, Rosco Gordon, Howl­ing Wolf, Jackie Bren­ston and Ike Turner – whose Rocket 88 is re­garded by many as the first true rock ‘n’ roll record ever – recorded at Sun but re­leased by Chess (an­other mas­sively im­por­tant 50s and 60s la­bel for black artists).

It was this en­vi­ron­ment that, in 1954, Elvis Pres­ley walked into, to use the ‘record­ing ser­vice’ to cut a track for his mum.

It wasn’t long be­fore Sam knew that this was ex­actly what the strug­gling la­bel needed – a strik­ingly good look­ing white boy with a prodi­gious tal­ent who sounded like a black singer and wanted to record black mu­sic – the mu­sic he had grown up lis­ten­ing to.

He may not have been the first rock ‘n’roll singer but he was the first one that could be a global suc­cess with­out com­pro­mise.

Part II next week. ●● On Au­gust Bank Hol­i­day week­end you don’t have to look far to find a blues fes­ti­val to hear some of the par­ent mu­sic of R’n’R and in­deed some of its prog­eny. Down the road in Con­gle­ton is the clos­est. Run­ning all week­end it has over four years be­come a de­cent small event. I will be there per­form­ing with Mana­tees on Satur­day at 6pm. Check it out. FOR lots more ideas visit our web­site, thethread.org.uk. The Thread is your lo­cal e-guide, keep­ing you up to date with what’s hap­pen­ing in Mac­cles­field. We’re on air with Canal­side’s ‘The Thread’ 102.8FM and on­line at thethread.org.uk bring­ing you news, re­views and the most com­pre­hen­sive what’s on guide yet. Do you want reg­u­lar up­dates about what’s on in and around town? Fol­low us on twit­ter @thethread­macc or on Face­book. Cinemac: Her­itage Cen­tre, Roe Street, Mac­cles­field, SK11 6UT. Recorded In­for­ma­tion: 01625 423535. En­quiries: 07871 422937. To con­firm list­ings times, for more in­for­ma­tion and book­ings go to www.cinemac.org.uk or con­tact 01625 423535 On this Week: Planes 2 (U), Her­cules (12A), Pud­sey the Dog: The Movie (U), Earth to Echo (PG), the In­be­tween­ers 2 (15). Sum­mer craft ac­tiv­i­ties at the Mac­cles­field Mu­se­ums: De­sign and cre­ate beaded jew­ellery to take home with the Jew­ellery Mak­ing Work­shop on Thurs­day, or why not learn all about sym­me­try and cre­ate art work us­ing dif­fer­ent shapes of dif­fer­ent sizes in the Sym­met­ri­cal Shapes on both Thurs­day and Fri­day? Date: Thurs­day, Au­gust 21 to Fri­day, Au­gust 22 Time: 12.30-3.30pm Venue: Mac­cles­field Silk Mu­se­ums, Park Lane Call: 01625 613210. Wind­mill Band Night with ‘Un­der the Wire’: The Wind­mill usu­ally hold their band night on the fi­nal Fri­day of each month, but this month they have de­cided to bring it for­ward to kick off the bank hol­i­day week­end. And they wel­come back Un­der The Wire with their live show of clas­sic tunes from acts such as the Ea­gles. Date: Fri­day, Au­gust 22 Time: 7.30pm Venue: The Wind­mill Hole­house Lane, Mac­cles­field, SK10 5SJ. Call: 01625 574 222. Julieanna Live in The Bro­ken Cross Club: Three shows in one in recog­ni­tion of the start of the First World War. First off it’s ‘A night of Nos­tal­gia’ – a walk down mem­ory lane with songs from the 1940s. ‘Putting on the Glitz’ is a trip to the fab­u­lous West End. Fi­nally, you can trip the light fan­tas­tic with pop­u­lar dance hits from var­i­ous artists with ‘Dance Till You Drop’. Date: Satur­day, Au­gust 23 Time: 8pm Venue: Bro­ken Cross Club, Fal­li­b­roome Road Visit: www.bro­ken cross­club.co.uk Call: 01625 263087. Bolling­ton Health and Leisure 10k run in Bolling­ton: Bolling­ton Health and Leisure has been pro­vid­ing swim­ming lessons, gym and fit­ness classes and squash courts for the Bolling­ton Com­mu­nity for over 30 years as a non profit or­gan­i­sa­tion and es­sen­tial ren­o­va­tion work is needed. They ex­pect 400-600 run­ners to be com­pet­ing in this event to help raise funds for the work. For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact the cen­tre. Date: Sun­day, Au­gust 24 Venue: Start and fin­ish on the field ad­ja­cent to the leisure cen­tre Call: 01625 574774. Car Boot sale bank hol­i­day Mon­day African Craft Mar­ket, Craft and Food Hall: Stalls £7 pre-booked or £10 on day. No traders al­lowed. Date: Mon­day, Au­gust 25 Time: 11am – 4pm Venue: Tyther­ing­ton Fam­ily Wor­ship Church, Sand­wich Drive. Welly Fest is back: One of the area’s largest mu­sic and beer fes­ti­vals in a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion in the fields of Rush­ton Spencer. Over seven hours of live mu­sic with an eclec­tic mix of mu­sic. As well as great mu­sic, there will be over 40 beers, along with nu­mer­ous other ac­tiv­i­ties such as a five-a-side foot­ball tour­na­ment, tug-o-war com­pe­ti­tion and fair­ground rides. Visit www.triple­fest.co.uk/ ap­pli­ca­tions and ap­ply. Date: Satur­day, Au­gust 23 – Mon­day, Au­gust 25 Time: 4pm – 11pm Venue: The Fields in Rush­ton Spencer Visit: www.triple­fest.co. uk/ap­pli­ca­tions. Bolling­ton Cricket Clubs Pres­i­dents Day in aid of Cys­tic Fir­bo­sis: They are re­ally ex­cited to an­nounce the BCC Pres­i­dents Day on Au­gust bank hol­i­day Sun­day. There will be a BBQ, re­fresh­ments, raf­fles and an on­line auc­tion (more to fol­low on BCC Face­book page.) The high­light is go­ing to be a chal­lenge match between a se­lect Pres­i­dents and Chair­mans teams fea­tur­ing a host of talented crick­eters in­clud­ing cur­rent Cheshire CCC play­ers, over­seas play­ers and past and present BCC play­ers. Spe­cial guest Manch­ester City leg­end Shaun Goater will be mak­ing his de­but on the hal­lowed turf Date: Sun­day, Au­gust 24 Time: 1pm Venue: Bolling­ton Re­cre­ation Ground.

●● Amer­i­can blues gui­tarist BB King

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