Did You Know?...That
Amazing Rock and Roll Facts
Key Artist: Early 1950s
…that Joe Hill
Louis (September 23, 1921 in Raines, TN –
August 5, 1957 in Memphis, TN), born Lester Hill, was a
singer, guitarist, harmonica player and one-man band. He is
significant, along with fellow Memphis bluesman Doctor Ross,
as one of only a small number of one-man blues bands to have
recorded commercially in the 1950s, and as a session musician
for Sun Records.
…that Jesse Lee "Arkie"
Shibley (born Jesse Lee Shibley, September
21, 1914, Van Buren, AR - died September 1975, Van Buren, AR)
was a country singer who recorded the original version of "Hot
Rod Race" in 1950. The record was important because "it
introduced automobile racing into popular music and
underscored the car's relevance to American culture,
particularly youth culture."
…that Billy Ward
and His Dominoes were an R&B vocal group. One of the most
successful R&B groups of the early 1950s, The Dominoes helped
launch the singing careers of two notable members, Clyde
McPhatter and Jackie Wilson.
Brenston (August 15, 1930, Clarksdale, MS – December
15, 1979, Memphis, TN) was an R&B singer and saxophonist, who
recorded, with Ike Turner's band, the first version of the
proto-rock and roll song "Rocket 88".
Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 –
January 10, 1976), known as Howlin' Wolf, was an influential
blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player. He was born in
West Point, MI in an area now known as White Station. Burnett
died at Hines VA Hospital in Hines, IL on January 10, 1976 and
was buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Hillside, IL in a plot in
Section 18, on the east side of the road.
…that Johnnie Ray
(January 10, 1927, Dallas, OR – February 24, 1990, Los
Angeles, CA) was an singer, songwriter, and pianist. Extremely
popular for most of the 1950s, Ray has been cited by critics
as a major precursor of what would become rock and roll, for
his jazz and blues-influenced music and his animated stage
…that Willie Mae "Big Mama"
Thornton (December 11, 1926, Ariton, AL – July 25,
1984, Los Angeles, CA) was an rhythm and blues singer and
songwriter. She was the first to record the hit song "Hound
Dog" in 1952. The record was #1 on the Billboard R&B charts
for seven weeks in 1953; the single sold almost two million
copies. Its B-side was "They Call Me Big Mama." Three years
later, Elvis Presley recorded his even more broadly successful
rendition of "Hound Dog," based on a version performed by
Freddie Bell and the Bellboys. Similarly, Thornton wrote and
recorded "Ball 'n' Chain", which became a hit for her, yet
Janis Joplin's later recording of it made a bigger impact in
the late 1960s.
…that Auburn "Pat" Hare
(December 20, 1930, Cherry Valley, AR - September 26, 1980,
St. Paul, MN) was an electric Memphis blues guitarist and
singer. His heavily distorted, power chord-driven electric
guitar music in the early 1950s is considered an important
precursor to heavy metal music. His guitar work with Little
Junior's Blue Flames had a major influence on the rockabilly
style, while his guitar playing on blues records by artists
such as Muddy Waters was influential among 1960s British
Invasion blues rock bands such as The Rolling Stones and The