This week’s tune is The Honeydripper by Joe Liggins, an R&B chart-topper in 1945. The secret of its success is its astounding, almost moronic simplicity (that two-note piano line), a template which it bequeaths to such immortal tunes as “Louie Louie”. Liggins was one of the many now-obscure musicians profiled in Nick Tosches Unsung Heroes of Rock N’ Roll: the Birth of Rock in the Wild Years Before Elvis, a book which puts forth the unusual thesis that Rock and Roll’s golden era came before the King hit the charts, and the the genre did not, in fact, spontaneously and suddenly emerge from Alan Freed’s ass. To wit:
Rock ‘n’ Roll was not created solely by blacks or by whites; and it certainly did not come into being all of a sudden. It evolved slowly, wrought by blacks and by whites, some of them old and some of them young, in the South and in the West, in the North and in the East.
Well, that certainly destroys about 90 percent of conventional wisdom about Rock and Roll’s genesis!