The Rock and Roll Riot focuses primarily on the early days of the genre, from the late ’40s to the early ’60s so it’s that period of the Fab Four’s career that I will spotlight. They had a bit of success…LOL…writing their own tunes but as the ’60s began, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were heavily inspired by Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Buddy Holly. They loved Holly so much they chose their name as a tribute to Holly’s band, The Crickets. From ’63 to ’65, Beatles albums and concerts featured performances of “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Long Tall Sally” and many other ’50s rock and roll classics.
Formed: 1959, Liverpool, England.
Notable recordings: She Loves You, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Back in the USSR (and tons
Twist and Shout https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuRYZUEFyh0
Legendary songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (“Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock”) found the perfect creative outlet for their two-minute musical stage productions in The Coasters. The group didn’t just sing the lyrics, they acted them out. Though even in the late ’50s The Coasters had to pretend “Poison Ivy” was actually about the plant and not what Leiber and Stoller had cleverly disguised as story about the clap.
Formed: 1955, Los Angles
Notable recordings: Poison Ivy, Yakety Yak, Youngblood.
Charlie Brown https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UnPzp2lmNk
CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL
My favourite CCR song is their reworking of Little Richard’s “Good Golly Miss Molly.” The phrase “smokin’ guitar” was invented for performances like the one John Fogerty gives on that track. You can almost see the flames coming off his strings. CCR had great taste in ’50s rock and roll, as you can hear in their versions of Molly, Suzie Q and My Baby Left Me. For my money, the greatest rock and roll band America has ever produced.
Formed: 1959, El Cerrito, California
Notable recordings: Travelin’ Band, Fortunate Son, Suzie Q
Bad Moon Rising https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYnySGM9dQA
The Dominoes gave us not one but two legendary rhythm and blues singers, Clyde McPhatter and Jackie Wilson. Billy Ward put the group together and recruited a 17-year-old former boy soprano named Clyde McPhatter. He would leave to form The Drifters. McPhatter was replaced by Wilson who, after a year, went on to a very successful solo career. If, like me, you love baseball movies, The Dominoes “Sixty Minute Man” plays during the love scenes between Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon in “Bull Durham.” Ooh, baby.
Formed: 1950, New York City
Notable songs: Sixty Minute Man
Have Mercy Baby https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdGG1ry-Rks
THE EVERLY BROTHERS
In 1957, songwriters Felice and Bordleaux Bryant shopped a tune that was turned down by over 30 performers. Brothers Don and Phil Everly recorded “Bye By Love” and thus began a highly successful collaboration. During the next three years, the Everly Brothers averaged one Top Ten hit every four months.
formed: 1957, Knoxville, Tennessee
Notable songs: Bye Bye Love, Till i Kissed Ya
Wake up Little Susie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X7b2E_Jq-k
I wrote about The Coasters earlier and their musical marriage to songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The Robins were the first act signed to Leiber & Stoller’s short-lived label, Spark Records. The soon-to-be composing legends developed their comedic style with Robin’s tunes like “Riot in Cell Block #9” and “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.”
Formed: 1945, San Francisco, California
Notable recordings: Riot in Cell Block #9
Smokey Joe’s Cafe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncjB0Pniwws
THE ROLLING STONES
Mick and the Boys embarked on their “50 and counting” tour in 2013 but my favourite Stones period is the mid to late ’60s, with Brian Jones on guitar. Jones was a huge fan of American blues and the Stones were his vision. Their first UK single was a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On” and, before manager Andrew Loog Oldham convinced Mick and Keith to write their own songs, The Rolling Stones paid tribute to Berry, Bo Diddley and Slim Harpo, among many other blues legends.
Formed: 1962, London, England
Notable recordings: (Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Ruby Tuesday
Paint it Black https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6d8eKvegLI
The Treniers were playing rock and roll before the term had even been coined by legendary DJ Alan Freed. After checking out Treniers gigs in the early ’50s, Bill Haley and the Saddlemen gave Western swing the boot and emulated the rockin’ rhythm and blues sounds…and the wild stage antics…of the Treniers.
Formed: 1947, Los Angeles, California
Notable songs: Rockin’ on a Sunday Night, Go Go Go
Rockin’ is our bizness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJfI69NgmB8
Many bands are lucky to produce one legendary guitarist. The Yardbirds gave us three: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. The band became better known for psychedelic pop tunes like “Shapes of Things” and “Heart Full of Soul” but, like The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds started out as a blues band. Clapton quit the band because he felt they were abandoning their R&B roots for a more commercial sound. Some of The Yardbirds finest recordings were covers of tunes by Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley.
Formed: 1963, London, England
Notable recordings: Train Kept a Rollin’, Heart Full of Soul, I’m a Man.
For Your Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pn6cxaKRwtk