My own nominee as the last rock’n’roll song from the golden era is Jack Scott’s ‘wiggle on out’ recorded on the 10 March 1964 which came out on in April the Groove label on the B-side of the single ‘what a wonderful night’, a doo-woppy ballad.
Arguably, rock’n’roll was not in a good shape since the 1958 Payola scandal against Alan Freed and the music he represented. Music industry bigwigs imposed sugary renditions with orchestral arrangements on all-comers. By 1963 the Beatles and their mop hair were taking over Britain – but thankfully no orchestral arrangements! – and over the Channel in France the yé-yé balladery finally did French rock’n’roll in. Nowhere was rock’n’roll flourishing except at the garage band level, such bands – of which the Beatles had been one of the earliest examples – would take over popular music worldwide by 1964, but changed along the way to become pop music. Rock’n’roll, the true American music phenomenon was pretty dead in its homeland : the lyrics of a song titled ‘recorded in England’ releeased in 1965 by Louisiana singer Rod Bernard and his band (complete with mop-top wigs for the single’s cover) lamented as much with the lyrics emphasising that the only way to stand a chance in getting a contemporary hit was to be English.
Other contenders for the title of the last rock’n’roll song of the ‘fifties era’ could be : ‘it’s shakin’ time’ 1963 (Freddie Starr and the Midnighters, yeah him of the hamster!) | ‘trouble bound’ 1963 (Larry Donn. fellow Arkansas fan of Billy Riley and Sonny Burgess) | Chuck Berry ‘s ‘Nadine’ 1964 (Jan) & ‘Brenda Lee’ 1964 (Feb) | Jerry Lee Lewis’s ‘rockin’ Jerry Lee’ 1963 (autumn) & ‘I’m on fire’ 1964 (Feb, both missing the spark of urgency of his Sun recordings) | Gene Vincent’s ‘private detective’ 1964 (Apr) | Little Richard’s ‘bama-lama-bama-loo’ 1964 (May) | and, way after the others, Eddie Bond’s ‘here comes that train’ of July 1965.
Whichever of these songs you consider the last song of the original rockin’ era – those above cover 1963 to 1965 – there can be no doubt that Gene Vincent’s ‘story of the rockers’ which was released in July 1968 was the first song which was openly nostalgic of the rock’n’roll era and kinda showed that it had really come to an end even though it tried hard to include contemporary bands (funnily enough Gene counts as rockers the Beatles from Liverpool – well, he had known them in Hamburg when they were rockers … oh wait a minute, he includes the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, the Byrds, the Young Rascals, Otis Redding, Berry Gordon ! Well, in Gene’s defence, the song was a composition of the American oldies but goldies radio DJ Jim Pewter, but on the other hand Gene was – sadly – putting out lame uninspired albums throughout the late 1960s.
1968 was really the beginning of the 1950s revival, comebacks from the Hollywood doldrums for Elvis Presley, for Bill Haley and the Comets who successfully toured Europe, and for teddy boys! Revival groups in the US such as Sha-na-na, and in the UK such as the shortlived Rock’n’roll Revival Show (with Tommy Bishop) and the improbably named At Last the 1958 Rock’n’roll Show in Britain (featuring Freddie Fingers Lee) were heralding the 1970s rock’n’roll revival, although very few people noticed it at the time. The next year, 1969, would see taking place the first edition of concert promoter Richard Nader’s highly successful Original Rock & Roll Revival Shows held at New York, a revival show that would be replicated in Britain at Wembley in 1972 when the teds were ready …
POSTED May 2020 (Iwan Wmffre).