Jackie Brenston & the Delta Cats – Rocket 88

Old-Timer Tuesday
Most of the music posted here is new or newish. However, as a nod to the elders, Tuesdays are reserved strictly for music that was written and/or recorded before the year 2000.


Ever wonder what the first “rock n’ roll” song was? Well here you have it…. arguably.

Recorded in Memphis, Tennessee on or about March 3rd, 1951, “Rocket 88” was credited to Jackie Brenston and the Delta Cats, which was simply an alias for Ike Turner’s band called The Kings of Rhythm. Rumor has it that the change was made to make the record appear “less controversial”, which is PC code language for “less black, more white”.

The song features one of the first examples of intentional distortion and feedback. According to legend, the fuzzy sound came about because the guitarist’s amplifier was accidentally damaged during the band’s road trip from Mississippi to Memphis.

So basically, you just take an upbeat shuffle in a familiar 1940s “jump blues” style, add some distortion from a damaged guitar amp, have a guy sing stuff* over the top of it, pound on an old piano a bit, and there you have it: rock n’ roll, man.

(*Anything that can feasibly be construed as a sexual metaphor helps, but isn’t necessary.)

RIYL: Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, history, good music, Eddie Cochran

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