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Elvis and Rockabilly

Elvis and Rockabilly

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Elvis and Rockabilly

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  1. Elvis and Rockabilly

  2. Bill Haley and the Comets • Haley from Western swing tradition • Some success with cover of Rocket 88 • Renamed band “the Comets” • Starts performing R&B covers • Hits with Rock Around the Clock • For most of song, fast shuffle rhythm • Occasionally beat evens out, esp. during guitar solos

  3. Bill Haley and the Comets • Style combination of Western swing, boogie-woogie, and R&B • Not a huge impact in this country, but in England, bigger than Elvis • Starts English teens singing rock and roll • Strong crossover appeal • Frequently involves mixture of styles • Most defined by strong rhythmic activity • Descended from swing jazz • Stripped down instrumentation: 2-3 horns + percussion section • Plus a blues shouter – male vocalist with strong, supported blues voice • Up-tempo numbers with boogie-woogie feel • Riff-based accompaniments • Rough, “honking” instrumental timbres • Four- or eight-beat style beat • “Slice of life” vignettes • Showmanship important • “Father of rhythm and blues” • Showman, comic, and bandleader • Ex. Choo-Choo-Ch-Boogie • Shuffle style beat • Boogie-woogie walking bass • Riff-based • Verse/chorus blues form • Verse = 12 bar blues • Refrain = 8 bar blues • Country blues carried north to cities • New style starts to develop in Chicago • Drums, bass, harmonica and/or piano added to singer+guitars • Role of each instrument specified • Forms: • 12 or 16 bar (aaab) blues • blues verse/chorus • Often riff-based • Strong rhythm section • Amplification used • Aggressive and extroverted: shouted vocals, hard timekeeping • Major influence on urban blues • Ex. Hoochie Coochie Man • Waters (guitar), piano, bass, harmonica • Verse/Chorus blues form • 16 bar blues; first 8 verse, 2nd 8 chorus • Stop time: 1 1/2 beat riff, 2 1/2 beats for vocals • Dense textures • Shuffle rhythms • Afro-Cuban influences prominent in New Orleans R&B • Major influence: Professor Longhair (Roy Byrd) • Walking bass • Boogie-woogie piano • Shuffle rhythm • PLUS “reverse” clave rhythm 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + X X X X X X X X X X rather than… 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + X X X X X • Influenced by Professor Longhair and Latin-flavored boogie-woogie • Signature characteristic - fast, even triplets • Laid-back style • Ex. Mardi Gras in New Orleans • Dense textures, often polyrhythmic as well • Clave rhythm • 12-bar blues

  4. Elvis Presley • Is most of Elvis’ music rock and roll? • Jailhouse Rock? • Mystery Train? • Hound Dog? • All Shook Up?

  5. Elvis Presley • Regardless of beat structure, Elvis is rock and roll --- • Figure though which R&B/rock and roll reaches large white audience

  6. Elvis Presley (1935-1977) • Born Tupelo, Mississippi into poor family • Begins playing guitar age 11 • Influences: Muddy Waters, Jimmie Rodgers • Moves to Memphis 1948, absorbs blues, R&B scene • Early 1954 goes into Sun studios to record demo

  7. Elvis Presley (1935-1977) • Early 1954 goes into Sun studios to record demo • Second session records That’s All Right Mama and Blue Moon of Kentucky • By August featured on Grand Old Opry • August 1956 TV appearances make a sensation

  8. Elvis - Major Influences • Brings huge number of vocal styles into rock and roll • Persona in which country and R&B, black and white cultures mesh • Style combination of honky-tonk, Western swing, R&B, with unique vocal style • Creates sub-genre of rock and roll = rockabilly

  9. Rockabilly • Combination of country and R&B, but with more weight on the country elements • Less blues influence on vocal style than Berry, Little Richard • Rather, hiccups, stutters • vibrato (quavery) vocal effects • Fast, nervous tempos of bluegrass

  10. Rockabilly • Combination of country and R&B, but with more weight on the country elements • Less blues influence on vocal style than Berry, Little Richard • Accented backbeat, but even beats of country music

  11. Rockabilly • “rock” or “honky-tonk” instrumentation • lead electric guitar • acoustic rhythm guitar • string bass • drums • songs from R&B repertoire, or in similar style

  12. Carl Perkins (1932-1998) • Born rural Tennessee • Working as country singer when heard Elvis on radio • Decided to pattern style after Elvis • Went to Sun records, auditioned for Sam Phillips • First record - Blues Suede Shoes - major hit

  13. Blue Suede Shoes • Country influences audible • But heavy doses of blues as well • Stop time • guitar style • riff-based

  14. Buddy Holly (1936-1959) • Born Lubbock, TX • Formed Western swing band in high school; worked as back-up band for Bill Haley • Models vocal style after Elvis after meeting at gigs • First recording, in 1956, unsuccessful

  15. Buddy Holly (1936-1959) • That’ll Be The Day a hit in 1957 • Rapid string of seven hit records with band The Crickets • Killed in plane crash in 1959 - “The Day The Music Died”

  16. Buddy Holly - style • Equal parts of country, R&B, and rock and roll • Guitar style: R&B influenced • Vocal style: country + Elvis • Musical forms, Chuck Berry-influenced lyrics: rock and roll • Compositions most sophisticated of early rock artists

  17. Not Fade Away • Riff-based, but combines with stop time • Stuttering vocal style • Multiple rhythmic layers • beat • style beat • Bo Diddley beat • backbeat

  18. Well…All Right • Very different style - more pop oriented • Verse/refrain, with weight on verses • Forward-looking: Blind Faith records a decade later

  19. Jerry Lee Lewis (1935- ) • Born Ferriday, Louisiana • Primary influences - boogie-woogie piano, New Orleans R&B style of Professor Longhair • Often categorized as rockabilly, but more in common with Little Richard

  20. Great Balls of Fire • Percussive, boogie-woogie piano style • With addition of glissandos, triplets of New Orleans style • Frantic performing style • Honky-tonk/hillbilly vocals • Blatantly sexual lyrics

  21. Everly Brothers (Don 1937 - and Phil 1938 - ) • Born into family of country musicians • Parents ran radio station in Iowa, so heard and performed everything • Earliest recordings for Candice label in Nashville

  22. Everly Brothers - Style • “Old-Timey” vocal harmony in thirds • High tenor range - influence from blues and gospel • “rock” instrumentation + piano • catchy melody lines • gentle rock timekeeping