Ch. 7 "Record Men"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 7 - "Record Men"

Michigan was blessed with a large number of other small independent record labels that, like Fortune, provided opportunities for Michigan artists. Fox, Lucky Eleven, A-Square, Lu Pine, Flick, Twirl, Fenton, Golden World, Impact, Carla, and most importantly Tamla-Motown, were just a few of the record labels that opened the doors to a vast array of Michigan vinyl recordings. The people who established and ran these labels played an important role in providing us with an audio history of the development of the rock and roll movement in our state.

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Ch. 6 "Rockabilly Cats"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 6 - "Rockabilly Cats"

Rockabilly is a musical blend of hillbilly/country and rhythm & blues that is most associated with the recordings at Sun Records in Memphis and the sexy image of Elvis Presley singing with his guitar. Writer Greil Marcus went on to explain: “Most significantly, the image was white. Rockabilly was the only style of early rock ‘n’ roll that proved white boys could do it all – that they could be as strange, as exciting, as scary, and as free as the black men who were suddenly dominating America’s airwaves.”

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Ch. 5 "Pop Goes Detroit"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 5 - "Pop Goes Detroit"

Pop music has always been a part of rock and roll. In 1956, it was common to see pop singers like Perry Como and Patti Page side by side with Elvis Presley and Little Richard on the Top 40 charts. Many popular songs from decades past including “”Where Or When”, “Deep Purple”, “Heart And Soul”, “Blue Moon”, “My Prayer”, “Who’s Sorry Now” and “Mack The Knife” became hits all over again in Michigan and all over the country during the rock and roll era’s first decade.

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Ch. 4 "Early Motor City R&B"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 4 - “Early Motor City R&B”

By the early 1950's, Detroit had emerged as a center for rhythm and blues music and it produced several of the genre's important artists. Hank Ballard was born in Detroit in 1927, but after the death of both of his parents at the age of 7, he was sent to Alabama to live with relatives. While there, he became influenced by both gospel and country music. He later claimed that cowboy singer Gene Autry was one of his early musical heroes.

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Ch. 3 "Rockin' Around The Clock"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 3 - “Rockin’ Around The Clock”

Two technological advances would prove to be vital to the rise of what would become rock and roll. The first was the development of the electric guitar. Invented in the early 1930s, it was first adopted by jazz guitarists, who wanted to play single-note solos in large big band ensembles. The popularity of the electric guitar grew through the efforts of early proponents including Les Paul, Lonnie Johnson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, T-Bone Walker, Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Minnie, and Arthur Crudup. By the 1950s, the electric guitar had become the most important instrument in popular music.

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Ch. 2 "Michigan Hillbillies"

Michigan Rock and Roll History

Ch. 2 - “Michigan Hillbillies”

Because of the auto industry, Detroit's population had expanded to 1.6 million by 1940, making it the fourth largest city in the United States. The city continued to be a magnet for newcomers until the early 1950s, when the city's population peaked at nearly two million. Some of the newcomers were attracted to the city’s emerging hillbilly music scene, a term that was commonly used to categorize a wide variety of styles including country and western, bluegrass, and even some forms of gospel.

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Ch. 1 "We're Gonna Rock"

Michigan’s Rock and Roll History

Ch 1 - "We’re Gonna Rock"

My goal is to write about the important role that Michigan played in the history of rock and roll. The first chapter will include some information about the term “rock and roll” and how it was used over the years. It will also cover some early recordings by artists that were the roots of that music, and you will have the opportunity to enjoy a couple of recordings by Michigan artists that are considered by some music historians to be among the first rock and roll songs.

In addition, this and subsequent chapters will explore how and why Michigan became an important rock and roll center. This will be done by examining a number of early artists associated with our state and, in so doing, also look at the record labels, songwriters, recording studios, and backing musicians that helped make it all happen.

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