Saturday, December 08, 2007

Another Blast From The Past

Rock and Roll is for everyone. It knows no nationality, no race, no creed. Anyone who wish to partake and enjoy it, is free do do so. But it's birthplace is right here America. Several places make a claim as being the birthplace of rock and roll. But only one can claim a phenomenon and several icons, as real evidence of being the one that people think about most.

Country rock, jazz rock, folk rock, classical rock, blues rock, punk rock, alternative rock, or just plain rock and roll. It has been an evolutionary process, to be sure. (That's why I try to bring a variety of styles to this feature.) But, they all have one thing in common, this being the word rock. And when we look back for the roots of this phenomenon (they said would never last), there is a place where the heart and soul of this musical movement was conceived.

Universities almost always offer a basic rock history course for non-majors, so they can pad their GPAs. In any one of those courses, Memphis Tennessee is mentioned prominently as an early pioneer. The Memphis sound inspired many rock artists throughout the years, and it's far reaching influence is unfathomable.

Memphis is known for its blues. If you have ever walked up Beale Street on a Saturday night, you would be in heaven (if you are a fan). And since rock is a primarily a blues-based entity, there's no better place in the world to hear what rock and roll first sounded like, than in and outside the clubs that line this famous stretch.

One of the more avant garde (at the time) artists came in the rockabilly era, and certainly helped shape the early style of one little band you may remember, the four moptops from Liverpool. Listen to an early Beatle song and you'll hear Carl Perkins. Here is the song that has probably been replayed more times than we can all count, Blue Suede Shoes:

Jerry Lee Lewis was another legend that helped integrate the piano into the rock and roll sound. He and guys like Fats Domino helped make the piano a cornerstone instrument, as equal to (or more so than) the guitar. And was he ever a talented showman. Here is one of his signature songs, Chantilly Lace:

When I was in Memphis a few years ago, I had to go to B.B. Kings place for some BBQ and fried dill pickles. But the main reason was to hear some good blues. B.B. wasnt there that night, but the band was a good one. To see the original Lucille was a treat. Here is his signature song, The Thrill Is Gone:

Bobby Blue Bland is one that often gets overlooked as a Memphis-based artist. Here is one of his best songs ever performed by him. It's called Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City:

These previous artists are a few of the icons I spoke of that came out of Memphis. The following is the legend. He needs no introduction. Here is A Little Less Conversation:


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