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What Was the First Rock’n’Roll Record?

Deke Dickerson is a person who knows about music; mostly early rock’n’roll music. He’s a guitarist who specializes in roots music—especially rockabilly and hillbilly styles. He’s also a record producer and songwriter. Plus, he writes about music with passion and authority. He knows his stuff, that’s for sure.

So when we saw that he wrote a two-part article for the Please Kill Me blog regarding the beginnings of rock’n’roll, we had to read it because his take on this subject was bound to be interesting, unique and educational.

He did not disappoint.

Mr. Dickerson claims that rock’n’roll had its beginnings in Wildwood, New Jersey when the exciting R&B Jump combo The Treniers influenced the hillbilly group The Saddlemen in the early Fifties. Mr. Dickerson thus contends that the first rock’n’roll record is “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & the Comets. He spells it all out in elegant prose, including interviews with some of the key players, and it makes total sense. We are sure many folks won’t agree with him—it is generally considered that “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (really Ike Turner & his Kings of Rhythm in disguise) was the first rock’n’roll record. Mr. Dickerson states why it is not.

Personally, we believe in the Buddy Bolden theory that no matter who get’s hailed as the first to do something, there was always someone who did it before and is totally unrecognized. Who was the first jazz musician? Who was the first blues singer? Who was the first country & western singer? What was the first punk rock band? Who cares? It’s not something we think about here at the ARChive—we just keep all the records!

However, Mr. Dickerson’s story is very well researched and written, and it deserves to be read by anyone interested in these sorts of things. In order to bring attention to Mr. Dickerson’s writing, Bill Haley’s Rock Around the Clock album is now sitting in the window of the ARChive of Contemporary Music.

Read Mr. Dickerson‘s articles here:

PART ONE

PART TWO


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