Greetings to all our faithful Bloggers from the other half of the team, Gary.  This will be my “First Survey”.  My intention is not to re-write history, but just provide a few suggested candidates or options regarding a somewhat long-standing and controversial question:

The First “Rock and Roll” recording
– What was it?

See survey at the end.

Now just before I give you my suggestions regarding which songs I would consider, listen to this music: These recordings were before Elvis, before Bill Haley and even before Ike Turner with Jackie Brenston. Although this music goes deep into the 40’s, those cat’s could really rock.
Gary’s Suggestions:


Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup

That’s Alright/ Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup/ the original was recorded in 1946


Elvis Presley

That’s Alright Mama/ cover by Elvis Presly in July 1954


Stick McGee

Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee/ Stick McGhee, 1947


Big Joe Turner

Rock the Joint Boogie/ Big Joe Turner 1947/ The words “Rock and Roll” are in the song


Wynonie Harris

Good Rockin’ Tonight/ Wynonie Harris (a cover of Roy Brown’s song) 1947


Jimmy Preston

Rock the Joint/ Jimmy Preston and the Prestonians/ Philadelphia 1949


Bill Haley and The Saddlemen

Rock the Joint/ Cover by Bill Haley & the Saddlemen 1952 – in 1955 Alan Freed said Let’s Rock and Roll!/then re-released under Bill Haley and the Comets by Decca in 1957


Fats Domino

The Fat Man/ Fats Domino 1949


Top left, Jackie Brenston; bottom 2nd left, Ike Turner

Rocket 88/ Ike Turner and his Delta Cats, featuring Jackie Brenston/ Sun March 1951


Rocket 88/ Bill Haley and the Saddlemen 1951


(Were gonna’) Rock Around the Clock (the B Side) Bill Haley and the Comets 1954


My Choice is “The Fat Man“, and always remember that, “Rock around the Clock” was the B side of Bill Haley’s recording. – Gary

Do you have any other tune to suggest?
Reply with a Comment to tell us.


One of our Comments, voting for another song…

Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 11:33 AM Subject: Hi Gary! I’d be happy to participate in your survey, though the answer may  surprise you. It’s a song called That’s All Right Baby by Pete Johnson  and Big Joe Turner  recorded live at Carnegie Hall in New York on  December 23rd, 1938 .  Sure sounds like rock’n’roll to me! So you don’t have to go nuts trying to find it, here’s a copy for you. This is the best address to reach me (or .net… same thing) Good Luck on the project, I like it. Pat StJohn

You can find Pat at

32 responses to “Survey

  1. Richard Montour

    As far as I can remember, it is the first rock & roll I have danced on. It was way back when I did dance….

  2. I never had a taste for Bill Haley nor Ike Turner
    To me Haley ripped off songs and Ike was an ass.

    I have to go with Big Boy Crudup…after all he did it before Elvis did…

    Thanks for letting me be a part of this!

  3. Wow! Big band sounds, Delta country blues, Boogie Woogie, Jazz guitar comping and it’s all there depending on which rock and roll song you’re listening to today. Thanks to those musicians that struggled in those juke joints and the few people that had the sense to record them way back then. As to which one was the first rock and roll song ……… I don’t think I can choose one. I’m just glad that I lived during the era when this music was born. Annnnnd…………. it’s not that I am old…………the music of today DOES suck!!

  4. Thanks, Don, for the comment. I lived during the era too, and, yes, the music of today is totally different. LOL – you must have seen the button on our “About Us” page.

  5. I guess we all could go on and on about what we would consider the first rock and roll recording. For me, it was ‘The Fat Man’. When I bought this album in 1965 and heard that tune, I knew that was a young Fats doing rock and roll. When I read the liner notes, it said it was recorded in 1949. Winonie Harris’ doing ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’ is close but that sound to me is R & B just like Presley said in one of his first interviews. Connie Boswell used the words ‘rock and roll’ in a 1925 recording but that would have nothing to do with what Freed meant later on. Don Landry’s got it right. We all were fortunate to witness such a great era of music.

  6. Arthur Crudup, Roy Brown and Wynonie Harris deserve a lot of recognition for their early work but Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston with Ike Turner put it all together in one song. Let’s not forget Louis Jordan (a big influence on Little Richard) and Hank Williams too. Move It On Over is as much rock and roll as country. Early Hank Ballard and early Drifters were very influential on what followed too. And Big Mama Thornton’s Hound Dog was released four years before Elvis’ version.

    But for me, Rocket 88, Jackie Brenston, is the first true rock and roll recording.

  7. I would select Lionel hampton”s “Flying Home” from 1942 as the first Rock and Roll record. It contains Illinois Jaquet’s Honking sax solo deemed as the beginning of R&B. Since R&B evolved into Rock and Roll as evidenced by many of your 11 suggestions it has to be the first as Rock and Roll would not have emeged without this track.

    Al Smith

  8. So glad to be back listening to the good old rock, shaking rhythm & blues, lost due to a naughty Windows7 eater. My choice of the ones Gary listed is Big Joe Turner’s Rock the Joint Boogie. Our gang hung out in parents’ basement to tune in Wolfman Jack and dance to what The Hound’s Around picks for the day. Thanks Russ & Gary

  9. The question has and will always produce different answers but I’m kinda torn between Big Joe Turner and Good Rockin Tonight by W. Harris. Thanks for the Brain Tease though, its fun to hear the replies.

  10. House of Blue Lights, age prevents me from naming the artist. Lyrics: “fryers, broiler, detroit barbecue ribs, all the trick of the treats, at the house of blue lights” something along those lines.
    I suspect this piece has a history.
    Dave D.

  11. I was surprised that no one mentions Louis Jordan. I have some video, archival film footage of him and his Tympany Five circa 1940. After watching it, I thought this is the closest thing to the start of Rock ‘n’ Roll I have ever seen. This was way before Bill Haley and The Comets hit the big time. Louis Jordan & his Tympany five started recording around 1938. One song I watched them doing was “Keep A-Knockin'”. This was covered by Little Richard about 15 years later. Interesting, this song was originally recorded in the 1920’s, but I do not know who did it. I’m sure Bill Haley was influenced be Louis Jordan.

  12. Richard Montour

    I am sticking with Rock around the clock,,,,,

  13. My understanding of this subject is that in the early fifties we called it rhythm and blues and it was not heard on the radio in this country ( Canada). Then with the advent of Bill Haleys ” Rock around the Clock’ becoming a hit and becoming mainstream, Rhythm & Blues became Rock and Roll. A term I detested then and still do as I associate it with cheap commercialism and the many foolish music that was played under the banner of Rock & Roll.

  14. I would have to agree with the 1938 version of That’s Allright Baby! It is ROCKIN and ROLLIN and that’s WAY early!

  15. Really enjoyed Gary’s offerings BEFORE the survey, and I voted for Good Rockin Tonight that very few others did: But my favorite was my grandma’s wind-up victrola recording of Wang Wang Blues that she & I danced to as a child 68 years ago. Gotta be my first love, but cannot say who is the artist.

  16. I love the stuff u guyz post.

    • Hi Nick
      Who knew???

      Who knew that you and I would still be enjoying each other’s comments, and through such an elaborate medium: an online Internet BLOG! I think it was around 1956 when we first started hanging with each other, playing music in various bands, drinking copious quantities of beer, experimenting with “leading edge” electronics and chicks.

      Thanks, man, for your comment! So great to hear from you.
      – Russ

  17. There were several songs prior to Rock Around The Clock that captured the sound. Rock Around the Clock however is the one that received the attention to this “new” music that kicked off the Rock era.

  18. I picked ‘Rock The Joint’ by Bill Haley & Saddlemen. To me Bill Haley’s music was the first time we got to hear ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll most of the other records are R & B which was absorbed into ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll as was uptempo Hillbilly/Rockabilly. I love all the other records as well but for me when I think of Rock ‘n’ Roll my first thought is Bill Haley & Comets/Saddlemen

  19. This is a difficult one. Only a few of the tracks in the survey were dubbed as rock ‘n roll at the time of their release although the term rock n roll was sometimes featured in the lyrics it had a different connotation to the music style that was to become known as rock n roll. If those tracks were considered to be rock n roll then surely boogie boogie which predated them by some 20 years should also come under the banner.
    To me the genre became rock n roll when someone decided to put a label to what was happening in the youth music scene during the mid fifties and that scene included diverse artists such as Elvis, The Platters, Little Richard, Pat Boone, Fats Domino, Bill Haley, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly and endless groups that were later to be labeled as doo wop and rockabilly.
    For that reason my vote goes to Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley.

  20. The Hound Dog broadcasting from Buffalo in the 50’s presented what I understand was true R&B ( later Rock & Roll). The likes of Bill Haley, Elvis and,shudder, Pat Boone had no place in his broadcasts. Listening to him and late night low wattage stations from the southern U.S. educated me in the fusion of R&B, black gospel and the true blues of many stripes. The advent of Haley’s Rock around the Clock gave birth to a geyser of commercialization of this genre that in retrospect was a sad time in the music world and is painful to listen to even today. Nothing in this world being static; the Industry refined and matured itself and produced such artists and groups as Queen, Steve Winwood,Creedence Clearwater Revival etc.
    Gary and my old bud Russ, that is my opinion,warts pimples and all.
    Dave D.

  21. Alan Freed first called it Rock N’ Roll and for me the first one was Rock Around The Clock. He made a few before that but it stuck about then. The first Ballad for me to be Rock N’ Roll was Earth Angel. Others may lay claim to be first but I identify with where it began.


    If it wasn’t for Sam Phillips there wouldn’t be ROCK N” ROLL and SUN RECORDS. Thanks to people like W.C. HANDY als MEMPHIS MINNIE and FURRY LEWIS and THE MEMPHIS JUG BAND none of this would happen with boppin’ music.Thanks Gary and Russ and your many fans. MUSIC will never die, people like us keep it alive.



  23. For me personally it has to be Rock Around The Clock. I’m not that knowledgeable about the history of rock and roll so I listened to the other tracks. While I can see how they influenced what would become “rock and roll” I think the beat and drive of Rock Around The Clock really set the tone for what was to follow. Just my personal thoughts. That record and others like it lead me to a career playing music starting in 1962 and continues today. Long live rock and roll!

  24. Thomas Ramon Jr

    Rock the Joint boogie is what we called R&R in Waco Texas in those days. There are some real classics in your list so choosing just one is tough.
    In the 50’s my Dad taught me how to make a crystal radio and at night I would lay on the roof of the house and listen and dream of things out in the universe far beyond my grasp. We were migrant farm workers so it was quite a treat. KMOX,WLS,XERF(Wolfman’s station)WWL and more were in my hand,all I had to do was slide the dial on my tuner. What days!!

  25. I’ll have to say Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston. Ive heard so many people attest to that fact over the years. I tend to agree.

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