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Digital Subscriptions > Vintage Rock > FREE Sample Issue > The Roots of Rock’n’Roll

The Roots of Rock’n’Roll

Rip it up

WHEN BLUES, COUNTRY, JAZZ AND R&B COLLIDED, ROCK’N’ROLL WAS BORN. WE PAY TRIBUTE TO THE STARS OF THE MUSIC THAT TURNED THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN

Music fans have been arguing about the origins of rock’n’roll for decades. Some will claim the key lies with Muddy Waters, or Howlin’ Wolf, or Hank Williams, or Ike Turner, or a host of other artists and records both famous and obscure. In truth, rock’n’roll was a convergence of influences, some local – the live music spilling out of clubs, dances and restaurants – and some national, thanks to the spread of specialist radio programming. For back in the days when learning opportunities were harder to come by and more keenly absorbed, a 14-year old kid clutching his $7 guitar in some isolated corner of the United States could spin across the frequencies and, among the usual stifling fare of middleaged ballads and string-laden popular songs, happen across stations playing new and thrilling music.

Today’s CD reissues are a mind-boggling resource for those looking for the fire and verve of original American rock’n’roll

From one side of the tracks, the ultra-safe music policy of trad country shows like the Grand Ole Opry would sometimes be shattered by the hairraising whine of Hank Williams and his guitarists Bob McNett or Sammy Pruit. Hank wore a hat and suit and sang in his own lethal take on the country style, but much of his music edged eerily close to rock’n’roll: Duane Eddy once pointed out the unmistakable similarities between Hank Williams’ Move It On Over (1947) and Bill Haley’s Rock Around The Clock (written ’52; Haley’s version, 1954).

Then there was the inescapably propulsive rhythms of boogie-woogie piano playing and the 12-bar and eightbar patterns of blues: the stylish T-Bone Walker, the stripped-down electric Chicago sound of Muddy Waters, the transcendental drone of John Lee Hooker, plus hundreds of bands playing variants on piano and horn-driven jump blues and R&B. Of course, there was also gospel music, whose wind blew stronger the further down south you were born, and jazz of many different shades.

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About Vintage Rock

Vintage Rock: Winter issue 2011 features: 50 Greatest Rockabilly tracks - Prepare yourself for the greatest party tape in history with our essential cuts. The Roots of Rock’n’Roll - The definitive lowdown on how it all began The stars - Fantastic features on Elvis, Hank Marvin, Jet Harris, Carl Perkins, Ike Turner and many more Rockabilly Hair - Tope stylist Mr Ducktail tells all, ably assisted by Levi and Bernie Dexter All Mama’s Children - News, reviews and events for the incorrigibly beat-minded