Did You Know?...That
Amazing Rock and Roll Facts
Key Artist: 1930s
…that James Charles "Jimmie"
Rodgers (September 8, 1897 – May 26, 1933) was an
American country singer in the early 20th century known most
widely for his rhythmic yodeling. Among the first country
music superstars and pioneers, Rodgers was also known as "The
Singing Brakeman", "The Blue Yodeler", and "The Father of
…that The Washboard Rhythm Kings
1931 to 1933 (aka. Washboard Rhythm Boys, Georgia Washboard
Stompers from 1934 to 1935, Alabama Washboard Stompers 1930 to
1932) were a loose aggregation of jazz performers, many of
high calibre, who recorded as a group for various labels
between about 1930 and 1935.
…that The Harlem Hamfats
was a Chicago jazz band formed in 1936. Initially, they mainly
provided backup music for jazz and blues singers, such as
Johnny Temple, Rosetta Howard, and Frankie Jaxon for Decca
Records, but when their first record "Oh Red" became a hit, it
secured them a Decca contract for fifty titles. They launched
a successful recording career performing danceable music.
…that Robert Leroy Johnson
(May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938) was an American blues singer
and musician. His landmark recordings from 1936–37 display a
combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent
that has influenced later generations of musicians. Johnson's
shadowy, poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given
rise to much legend, including the Faustian myth that he sold
his soul at a crossroads to achieve success. As an itinerant
performer who played mostly on street corners, in juke joints,
and at Saturday night dances, Johnson had little commercial
success or public recognition in his lifetime.
…that William James "Count" Basie
(August 21, 1904 – April 26, 1984) was an American jazz
pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. His mother first
taught him piano and he started performing in his teens.
Dropping out of school, he learned to operate lights for
vaudeville and improvised to accompany silent films at a local
theatre in his town of Red Bank, New Jersey. By 16, he
increasingly played jazz piano at parties, resorts and other
venues. In 1924, he went to Harlem, where his performing
career expanded; he toured with groups to the major jazz
cities of Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City. In 1929 he
joined Bennie Moten's band in Kansas City, and played with
them until Moten's death in 1935.
…that Sister Rosetta Tharpe
(born Rosetta Nubin; March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973) was an
American singer, songwriter, guitarist and recording artist. A
one-of-a-kind pioneer of 20th-century music, Tharpe attained
great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel
recordings that were a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and
early rock and roll accompaniment. As the first recording
artist to impact the music charts with her spiritual
recordings, Tharpe became the first superstar of gospel music
and also became known as "the original soul sister." She was a
treasured early influence on iconic figures such as Elvis
Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Johnny Cash.
…that James Robert Wills
(March 6, 1905 – May 13, 1975), better known as Bob Wills, was
an American Western swing musician, songwriter, and
bandleader. Considered by music authorities as the co-founder
of Western swing, he was universally known as the King of
Johnson (March 25, 1904 – March 23, 1967) was an
American boogie-woogie and jazz pianist.
...that Big Joe
Turner (born Joseph Vernon Turner Jr., May
18, 1911 – November 24, 1985) was an American blues shouter
from Kansas City, Missouri. According to the songwriter Doc
Pomus, "Rock and roll would have never happened without him."
Although he came to his greatest fame in the 1950s with his
pioneering rock and roll recordings, particularly "Shake,
Rattle and Roll", Turner's career as a performer stretched
from the 1920s into the 1980s. Turner was inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.