The moment blues turned into rock & roll
The year was 1936. The artist was the blues pianist Albert Ammons. The place was Chicago and the song was Albert’s rocking piano track – Boogie Woogie Stomp, a hit record that opened up the world to boogie boogie piano. But I’ll come back to that in a moment.
First, in the film, you’ll listen to that iconic blues shouter, Big Joe Turner, in tandem with another of the top boogie boogie pianists of the 30s and 40s, Pete Johnson. Then hear prototype 1930s rock’n’roll from Big Bill Broonzy.
In recent correspondence I’ve since had with a blues colleague, Steve Cushing, Steve says: “My recollection is that a George Thomas composition, New Orleans Hop Scop was the first known recorded piece to feature a boogie bass line. I believe that George Thomas referred to it as Fast Western.”
If you’re writing the book (a book on the origins of rock ‘n’ roll I’m writing) than I assume you’re aware of George Thomas’ baby brother, Hersal Thomas. George did the composing but Hersal was the piano player.
When Hersal died early, a childhood friend adopted his piano style for his own – and the friend was Albert Ammons…”
Amazing insights into the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Thanks Steve.
And if you missed that link to the final three tracks of my rocking blues countdown – the rocking blues that pre-empted rock ‘n’ roll.