On March 3-5, 1951 American musician, bandleader, talent scout, and record producer Ike Turner
and his band, the Kings of Rhythm, recorded the rhythm and blues
song, Rocket 88
in Memphis, Tennessee
. This " hymn of praise" for the first American muscle car, the Oldsmobile Rocket 88
, which had been introduced in 1949, has been called "the first rock and roll song
"The original version of the twelve-bar blues
song was credited to Jackie Brenston
and his Delta Cats, which hit number one on the R&B charts
. Brenston was Ike Turner
's saxophonist and the Delta Cats were actually Turner's Kings of Rhythm
back-up band, who rehearsed at the Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale, Mississippi
. Brenston sang the lead vocal and is listed as the songwriter, although Turner was the actual author of the song.
Raymond Hill played the tenor sax and Willie Sims was the drummer.
"The song was a hymn of praise to the joys of the Oldsmobile "Rocket 88"
automobile which had recently been introduced,
and was based on the 1947 song "Cadillac Boogie" by Jimmy Liggins
. It was also preceded and influenced by Pete Johnson
's "Rocket 88 Boogie" Parts 1 and 2, an instrumental, originally recorded for the Los Angeles-based Swing Time Records
label in 1949.
"Drawing on the template of jump blues
and swing combo
music, Turner made the style even rawer, superimposing Brenston's enthusiastic vocals, his own piano, and tenor saxophone solos by 17-year-old Raymond Hill
. Willie Sims played drums for the recording. The song also features one of the first examples of distortion
, or fuzz guitar
recorded, played by the band's guitarist Willie Kizart
."(Wikipedia article on Rocket 88, accessed 9-2020).
"Rock 'n' roll was an evolutionary process – we just looked around and it was here. . . . To name any one record as the first would make any of us look a fool."
—Billy Vera, Foreword to "What Was the First Rock'n'Roll Record", Jim Dawson and Steve Propes, 1992" (Wikipedia article on First rock and roll recording, accessed 06-01-2009).