No Chuck Berry is Not THE Father of Rock and Roll

The idea that anyone started Rock and Roll is a mistake.  There were lots of fathers (and even a few mothers ) of the post WW2 music that upset parents as their kids turned away from the Hit Parade and big band music and moved to what were sometimes called Jungle Rhythms (lots of racism then too).  

Something was in the air, as it always is with all artistic change. By the time Chuck Berry hit the scene the new music was already born.  And it was a larger, broader music than just Chuck Berry, so included plaintive love songs and echoes from the America song book.  

The thread started in the 1940s but by 1952-3 it was pretty much fully formed. 

Here are a group of songs (from what is sadly called Doo-Wop) that have been considered the first Rock and Roll Record.  

Gee is from 1953.  A good copy of a 45 would be worth money.  

Gee - The Crows

I Won’t Come To Your Wedding - The Wrens

That’s My Desire, -  The Flamingos

Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight - The Spaniels

Earth Angel - The Penguins

Oh - and then there is Faye Adams, Shake a Hand.  I'll let you look that up. Look up Alan Freed too.  

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Comment by Terry McKenna on March 19, 2017 at 10:30am

If you were a singer, your history would shift to singers, so Frankie Lane, who moved away from the crooning to something for soulful.  And Gene Mumford, Sonny Till and many more.  Ry Cooder used Gene Mumford in his album Chicken Skin music.  Again, it depends on where your center is.  

Comment by Terry McKenna on March 19, 2017 at 10:32am

Here is Gene Mumford:

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on March 19, 2017 at 10:42am

Sonny Til    oh man!

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on March 19, 2017 at 10:51am

BTW, how far back "is back", Mr. Clinton?  

There has been big band, gospel, R&B, doo wap, rag, etc. music that was "re-orignated" from former forms, with a lot of it having roots from music that has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years.  

Case in point is a song by "Misirlou" by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones (1960's-ish).  He "re-orignated" that from a Greek composer, who titled it "Mirsili" back in the 1920's, who "re-orignated" it from a belly dancer song that had been around the Middle East for hundreds of years.

So where IS your "finger pointing" line?  If Berry wasn't THE most influential member of the 1950 R&R genre because of "predecessors" then are you going to go back to the first guy who banged two stick together in his cave?

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on March 19, 2017 at 10:55am

Amy's examples are good ones and why I say 'First" is a needless question.

Comment by Foolish Monkey on March 19, 2017 at 11:21am

Good discussion. 

in my opinion theres no first, no father or mother, no one artist, composer, instrument, recording or performance that was the first, the introduction, the premier. music is cultural evolution. 

Wiki has a pretty decent analysis The Origins of Rock and Roll but to each his or her own. there arecplenty of opinions as to the "best"  and "first" but nobody agrees. 


Comment by koshersalaami on March 19, 2017 at 11:34am

Rock n roll has been around for roughly sixty years. Ten of those were not primarily guitar driven. That certainly doesn't make Berry the originator of rock n roll but it sure as Hell magnifies his influence. 

Comment by Terry McKenna on March 19, 2017 at 11:36am

Amy: you are arguing over a proposition I don't make.  I didn't say how influential Berry was.  

But.. I am old enough to have seen other die and fade away.  So let's not forget them.  Was Berry father?  No.  So what?  

Comment by Terry McKenna on March 19, 2017 at 11:54am
Comment by older/exasperated on March 19, 2017 at 12:41pm

The problem with this post is not the post itself but the title which makes a definitive statement so you shouldn't be miffed with the reaction of some. With that being said I grew up in St Louis Barry's hometown and I first saw him perform in Gaslight Square a former street in downtown StL that had jazz clubs, speakeasy joints and several music halls. That was in the early 60's he was well known for being a great guitarist and showman and like all music his was derived from influences in jazz, blues and of course Elvis the pelvis and his work with other groups at the time was highly influential in his music. Music in itself is a progressive process which develops the need for experimentation and progression. He was tagged as the father of rock and roll by others using his influence and style to enhance their work and music. Saw him last perform in 2014 at Blueberry Hill in University City in St Louis County bordering the city and the former Gaslight Square where he was given a Star on the St Louis Walk of Fame and being in his 80's he was still a thrill to watch and listen too. He told me once he liked the way his music made old white men cringe and ladies shake their booty, he will be missed by all. Have a better day...............o/e


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