One of the most classic and timeless rock and roll songs, and one of my favorites, is “Good Rockin’ Tonight.” First recorded in 1947 by Roy Brown as a Jump Blues Tune and later sung by Wynonie Harris where you begin to see the early first instances of Rock and Roll coming out. Then, in 1954 a young Elvis Presley, still only a regional sensation toom up the song and took it to the next level.
The song no matter who sings it, from Buddy holly to Robert Plant to Lemmy Klimister the song still rocks. Please enjoy the songs and commentary below courtesy of You Tube and watch how the song evolves over time and yet never changes. Thank you Roy Brown.
When you draw up a short list of the R&B pioneers who exerted a primary influence on the development of rock & roll, respectfully place singer Roy Brown’s name near its very top. His seminal 1947 DeLuxe Records waxing of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” was immediately ridden to the peak of the R&B charts by shouter Wynonie Harris and subsequently covered by Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more early rock icons (even Pat Boone). In addition, Brown’s melismatical pleading, gospel-steeped delivery impacted the vocal styles of B.B. King, Bobby Bland, and Little Richard (among a plethora of important singers). Clearly, Roy Brown was an innovator — and from 1948-1951, an R&B star whose wild output directly presaged rock’s rise.
No blues shouter embodied the rollicking good times that he sang of quite like raucous shouter Wynonie Harris. “Mr. Blues,” as he was not-so-humbly known, joyously related risque tales of sex, booze, and endless parties in his trademark raspy voice over some of the jumpingest horn-powered combos of the postwar era.
Elvis Presley may be the single most important figure in American 20th century popular music. Not necessarily the best, and certainly not the most consistent. But no one could argue with the fact that he was the musician most responsible for popularizing rock & roll on an international level. Viewed in cold sales figures, his impact was phenomenal. Dozens upon dozens of international smashes from the mid-’50s to the mid-’70s, as well as the steady sales of his catalog and reissues since his death in 1977, may make him the single highest-selling performer in history.
Jerry lee Lewis
Is there an early rock & roller who has a crazier reputation than the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis? His exploits as a piano-thumping, egocentric wild man with an unquenchable thirst for living have become the fodder for numerous biographies, film documentaries, and a full-length Hollywood movie. Certainly few other artists came to the party with more ego and talent than he and lived to tell the tale. And certainly even fewer could successfully channel that energy into their music and prosper doing it as well as Jerry Lee. When he broke on the national scene in 1957 with his classic “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” he was every parents’ worst nightmare perfectly realized: a long, blonde-haired Southerner who played the piano and sang with uncontrolled fury and abandon, while simultaneously reveling in his own sexuality. He was rock & roll’s first great wild man and also rock & roll’s first great eclectic. Ignoring all manner of musical boundaries is something that has not only allowed his music to have wide variety, but to survive the fads and fashions as well. Whether singing a melancholy country ballad, a lowdown blues, or a blazing rocker, Lewis’ wholesale commitment to the moment brings forth performances that are totally grounded in his personality and all singularly of one piece.
Buddy Holly is perhaps the most anomalous legend of ’50s rock & roll — he had his share of hits, and he achieved major rock & roll stardom, but his importance transcends any sales figures or even the particulars of any one song (or group of songs) that he wrote or recorded. Holly was unique, his legendary status and his impact on popular music all the more extraordinary for having been achieved in barely 18 months. Among his rivals, Bill Haley was there first and established rock & roll music; Elvis Presley objectified the sexuality implicit in the music, selling hundreds of millions of records in the process, and defined one aspect of the youth and charisma needed for stardom; and Chuck Berry defined the music’s roots in blues along with some of the finer points of its sexuality, and its youthful orientation (and, in the process, intermixed all of these elements). Holly’s influence was just as far-reaching as these others, if far more subtle and more distinctly musical in nature. In a career lasting from the spring of 1957 until the winter of 1958-1959 — less time than Elvis had at the top before the army took him (and less time, in fact, than Elvis spent in the army) — Holly became the single most influential creative force in early rock & roll.
Lemmy Klimister with Johnny Ramone (One of my favorite versions)