I must admit I am beginning to see the world in sets of thirteen. I am always trying to plan something that will inform, yet be entertaining for Thursday Thirteen. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony gave me the idea for this week’s presentation. When I looked at the 1986 list of inductees (the first year), lo and behold, there were thirteen (imagine that).While anticipating the induction of the new class I got the idea to pay homage to the artists who paved the way. All of these rock and roll greats are near and dear to my heart. Three of them were inducted as early influences. Each of these performers shaped the sound that changed a generation and continues to influence every person who stands behind a microphone or plays a musical instrument. I have enjoyed the music of many of the inductees who have followed these originators, but it is always good to go back and give credit to those who were there in the infant stages of the genre. I have listed them these performers alphabetically. Please bear with me as I stroll down memory lane. Who are some of your favorite Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees?
1. Chuck Berry – Charles Edward Anderson was born on October 18, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri. He is considered a rock and roll pioneer who still performs today. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website, “While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together”. Cub Koda wrote, "Of all the early breakthrough rock & roll artists, none is more important to the development of the music than Chuck Berry. He is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers." John Lennon was more succinct: "If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'."
2. James Brown – James Joseph Brown, born May 03, 1933 in Barnwell, South Carolina was often referred to as “The Godfather of Soul”, “The Hardest Working Man In Show Business” or “Mr. Dynamite”. Brown began his professional music career in 1953, and rose to fame during the late 1950s and early 1960s on the strength of his thrilling live performances and string of smash hits. He wrote and sung what became an anthem of Black pride in the 1960’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”. In spite of various personal problems and setbacks he continued to score hits in every decade through to the 1980s. In addition to his acclaim in music, Brown was a presence in American political affairs during the 1960s and 1970s, noted especially for his activism on behalf of fellow African Americans and the poor. During the early 1980s, Brown's music helped to shape the rhythms of early hip-hop music, with many groups looping or sampling his funk grooves and turning them into what became hip hop classics and the foundations of this music genre. He was one of the most influential performers of all time who performed right of to his death on Christmas day 2006.
3. Ray Charles – Born Ray Charles Robinson on September 23, 1930 in Albany, Georgia, he shortened his name to Ray Charles to avoid confusion with the legendary boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. When he was six Charles began to go blind. He finally became totally blind by the age of seven. He never let his blindness hinder his drive and ability. He mastered every thing he ever set out to do. Almost immediately after signing with Atlantic, Charles scored his first hit singles with the label with "It Should Have Been Me" and the Ertegun-composed "Mess Around", both making the charts in 1953. But it was Charles' "I Got A Woman" (composed with band mate Renald Richard) that brought the musician to national prominence. The song reached the top of Billboard's R&B singles chart in 1955 and from there until 1959, Charles would have a series of R&B chart-toppers including "This Little Girl of Mine", "Lonely Avenue", "Mary Ann", "Drown in My Own Tears" and "The Night Time (Is the Right Time)", which was compiled with other blues numbers on his last Atlantic release The Genius Sings the Blues,
4. Sam Cooke – Sam Cook was born January 22, 1931 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, but was raised in Chicago. He was a popular and influential American gospel, R&B, soul, and pop singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. Musicians and critics today recognize him as one of the founders of soul music, and as one of the most important singers in soul music history. He has been called "the king of soul" by many, and while some may dispute this title, Sam Cooke's legacy is an extensive one and his impact on soul music is undeniable. He had 29 Top 40 hits in the U.S. between 1957 and 1965. He is therefore seen by many as "the creator" of the genre. Major hits like "You Send Me", "Chain Gang", "Wonderful World" and "Bring It on Home to Me" are some of his most popular songs. Cooke was also among the first modern black performers and composers to attend to the business side of his musical career. He founded both a record label and a publishing company as an extension of his careers as a singer and composer. He also took an active part in the Civil Rights Movement, using his musical ability to bridge gaps between black and white audiences.
5. Fats Domino – Antoine Dominique Domino was born February 26, 1928 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He first attracted national attention with "The Fat Man" in 1949 on Imperial Records. This song is an early rock and roll record, featuring a rolling piano and Domino doing "wah-wah" vocalizing over a fat back beat. Domino finally crossed into the pop mainstream with "Ain't That a Shame" (1955), which hit the Top Ten, though Pat Boone characteristically hit #1 with a milder cover of the song that received wider radio airplay in a racially-segregated era. Domino would eventually release 37 Top 40 singles, "Whole Lotta Loving" and "Blue Monday" among them.His 1956 uptempo version of the 1940 Vincent Rose, Al Lewis & Larry Stock song, "Blueberry Hill" reached #2 in the Top 40, was #1 on the R&B charts for 11 weeks, and was his biggest hit. "Blueberry Hill" sold more than 5 million copies worldwide in 1956-57. The song had earlier been recorded by Gene Autry, and Louis Armstrong among many others. Fats appeared in two films released in 1956: Shake, Rattle & Rock! and The Girl Can't Help It. On December 18, 1957, Domino's hit "The Big Beat" was featured on Dick Clark's American Bandstand.
6. The Everly Brothers - The Everly Brothers, (Don Everly, born Isaac Donald Everly February 1, 1937, Brownie, Kentucky and Phil Everly, born Phillip Everly, January 19, 1939, Chicago, Illinois) are male siblings who were top-selling country-influenced rock and roll performers, best known for their steel-string guitar playing and close harmony singing. Their greatest period of chart success came between 1957 and 1964. The Everly Brothers recorded their own first hit "Bye Bye Love," (which had been rejected by 30 other acts, including Elvis Presley), and it became an across-the-board smash, reaching #2 on the pop charts (behind Presley's Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear), while hitting #1 on both the Country and the R & B charts. The harmonic duo had a number of hits in the U.S. and the UK, the biggest of which were "Wake Up Little Susie," "All I Have to Do Is Dream," and "Bird Dog”. Signing with Warner Bros. Records in 1960, they continued to have hits. Their first with WB, 1960's "Cathy's Clown," launched the brothers back to the top of the charts. It was released as number WB1, the first release in the United Kingdom by Warner Brothers Records. Other singles followed, such as "When Will I Be Loved" (1960), "Walk Right Back" (1961), and "Crying In The Rain" (1962). Their enlistment in the United States Marine Corps in 1963, to meet military obligations, took them out of the spotlight immediately before The Beatles broke loose in the United States and changed the pop music landscape.
7. Buddy Holly – Charles Hardin Holly was born on September 7, 1936 in Lubbock, Texas. Although his success lasted only a year and a half before his death in an airplane crash, Holly is described by critic Bruce Eder as "the single most influential creative force in early rock & roll."His works and innovations were copied by his contemporaries and later musicians, notably The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and exerted a profound influence on popular music. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Holly #13 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Holly managed to bridge some of the racial divide that marked rock n' roll music. While Elvis made black music more acceptable to whites, Holly won over an all-black audience when the Crickets were accidentally booked at New York's Apollo Theater (though, unlike the immediate response depicted in the 1978 movie The Buddy Holly Story, it actually took several performances for his talents to be appreciated). Holly along with J. P. Richardson (The Big Bopper), and Ritchie Valens died in a plane crash while on tour on February 2, 1959. That date is referred to as “the day the music died” in the Don McLean recording “American Pie”. (SORRY Malcolm).
8. Robert Johnson – Born Robert Leroy Johnson on May 8, 1911, He is among the most famous of Delta blues musicians. His landmark recordings from 1936–1937 display a remarkable combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that have influenced generations of musicians. Johnson's shadowy, poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to much legend. Considered by some to be the "Grandfather of Rock-and-Roll", his vocal phrasing, original songs, and guitar style have influenced a broad range of musicians, including John Fogerty, Bob Dylan, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers Band, The Rolling Stones, Paul Butterfield, The Black Keys, The Band, Neil Young, Warren Zevon, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton, who called Johnson "the most important blues musician who ever lived". He was also ranked fifth in Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He was inducted as an early influence.
9. Jerry Lee Lewis – Jerry Lee Lewis (The Killer) was born on September 29, 1935 in Ferriday, Louisiana. He has the distinction of having two famous cousins (Jimmy Swaggert and Mickey Gilley). His piano and the pure rock and roll sound of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" (which in 2005 was selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress) propelled him to international fame. Lewis' first TV appearance was on The Steve Allen Show July 28, 1957, where he played the song "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On”. Lewis, though not the first pianist in that style, was a pioneer of Piano rock, not only through his sound but also through his dynamic performance. He would often kick the piano bench out of the way to play standing, rake his hands up and down the keyboard for dramatic accent, and even sit down on the instrument. His frenetic performance style can be seen in films such as High School Confidential (he sang the title song from the back of a flatbed truck), and Jamboree. He has been called "rock & roll's first great wild man and also rock & roll's first great eclectic. These performance techniques have been adopted by later Piano rock artists, notably admirers Elton John, Billy Joel, and Ben Folds.
10. Little Richard – Born Richard Wayne Penniman on December 5, 1932 in Macon, Georgia, Little Richard often refers to himself, rather than Elvis, as being the “King of Rock and Roll”. Little Richard's early work was a mix of boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues and gospel music, but with a heavily accentuated back-beat, funky saxophone grooves and raspy shouted vocals, moans, screams, and other emotive inflections that marked a new kind of music. In 1957, while at the height of stardom, he became a born-again Christian, enrolled in and attended Bible college, and withdrew from recording and performing secular music. Claiming he was called to be an evangelist, he has since devoted large segments of his life to this calling. Penniman has earned wide praise from many other performers. Singer James Brown called Little Richard his idol and credited him with "first putting the funk in the rock and roll beat”. Smokey Robinson said Penniman's music was "the start of that driving, funky, never let up rock 'n' roll;", while Dick Clark described his music as "the model for almost every rock and roll performer of the '50s and years thereafter”. Ray Charles asserted that Little Richard was "the man that started a kind of music that set the pace for a lot of what's happening today”. In his high school year book, Bob Dylan declared that his ambition was "to follow Little Richard." In 1969, Elvis Presley told Little Richard, "Your music has inspired me - you are the greatest.". Otis Redding, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Mick Jagger, John Fogerty, Dick Dale, Bob Seger, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, and numerous other rock n roll icons have also cited Little Richard as being their first major influence.
12. Jimmie Rodgers – James Charles Rodgers was born on September 8, 1897 in Meridian, Mississippi and is considered the first superstar country singer. He was inducted in the RRHOF as an early influence. Jimmie's affinity for entertaining came at an early age, and the lure of the road was irresistible to him. By age 13, he had twice organized and begun traveling shows, only to be brought home by his father. In 1924 while working for a railroad company he contracted tuberculosis. The disease temporarily ended his railroad career, but, at the same time, gave him the chance to get back to his first love, entertainment. He organized a traveling road show and performed across the southeast until, once again, he was forced home after a cyclone destroyed his tent. Rodgers’ bandmates got word that Ralph Peer, a representative of the Victor Talking Machine Company, was coming to Bristol to audition and record area musicians. Rodgers and the group arrived in Bristol on August 3, 1927. Later that same day, they auditioned for Peer in an empty warehouse and Peer agreed to record them. When the Country Music Hall of Fame was established in 1961, Rodgers was one of the first three (with Fred Rose and Hank Williams) to be inducted. He was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and, as an early influence, to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. "Blue Yodel No. 9" was selected as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. "Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas)" was covered by Lynyrd Skynyrd on the One More from the Road album.
13. Jimmy Yancey – Born James Edward Yancey on February 20, 1998. He was a composer, and lyricist, most noted for his piano work in the boogie-woogie style. Yancey was born in Chicago and hisolder brother Alonzo Yancey was a pianist as well. Their father was a guitarist. Yancey started performing as a singer in traveling shows during his childhood. He was a noted pianist by 1915 and influenced younger musicians like Meade "Lux" Lewis and Albert Ammons. While he played in a boogie-woogie style, with a strong repeated figure in the left hand and melodic decoration in the right hand, his playing was delicate and subtle, rather than hard driving. Part of Yancey's distinctive style was that he played in a variety of keys but always ended every song in E flat. These endings added a strangely satisfying dissonance to every performance. Most of his recordings were of solo piano, but late in his career he also recorded with vocals by his wife, Estelle Yancey, under the billing 'Jimmy and Mama Yancey'. They recorded the first album ever made by Atlantic Records. Throughout his life, Yancey kept a job as groundskeeper for the Chicago White Sox.
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