Give me a sec to explain how I ended up at that link on TheBestSchools.org, checking out a write-up on pre-rock n’ roll songs:
So I was listening to WTF where Marc Maron was interviewing Peter Guralnick, author most recently of a great book on Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records, discoverer of Howlin’ Wolf, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc.: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=778000
In the interview, they discussed Rocket 88, which is the “conventional best answer” to What is the First Rock n’ Roll Song? It was recorded by Phillips, who decided that the distorted guitar tone, caused by a problem tube, sounded fresh.
While they were discussing that, Guralnick discussed that Sam declared it the first RnR record early on, but a number of other songs could be argued for. One he mentioned was **Downtown Blues by Frank Stokes **.
I wanted to check that out, so I found it on YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Sor7vbJpgzY
What a fun, rockin’ song. I can see why Guralnick name-checked it. So I want to find a bit more out about Frank Stokes, so I start Googling him. There really isn’t a lot on him. But while I am look, I stumble across this link.
This is a great, great write up! It cites a bunch of proto-rock songs, noteworthy for their use of the words, the use of a backbeat rhythm, the use of a honkin’ lead sax, the first hot rod hit record, etc. It stays off some of the main typical cites - there’s no T-Bone Walker, or the early blues masters like Son House or Robert Johnson. But I love the choices they make. The phrases where you hear who Chuck Berry was listening to, or Little Richard. The original versions of songs that became rock songs, e.g., Rock this Joint (popularized by Bill Haley and also a claim for first rock song, this is this original version) or Train Kept a Rollin before Johnny Burnette rocked it up.
So I didn’t find out more on Frank Stokes - my quest continues - but anyone wanting to get more grounded on proto-rock songs and influences will get a ton out of this. It is a great complement to the history of Pop Music I just posted about a couple of weeks ago: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=780366
Check this out first.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I have. And if you can figure out why the heck it is on a website discussing top colleges, I am all ears!!