Is This the First Rock and Roll Song?

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These are things you might not have known:
1. You can get a job as a “rock historian” at a college (Southeastern Louisiana, to be precise).
2. The person who did exactly that, Prof. Joseph Burns, claims to have identified the first rock and roll song.
3. That song is “That’s All Right Mama” by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup.

According to

He gives Crudup the nod because “That’s All Right Mama” was the first song to contain all of the elements that he says are associated with rock and roll:

  • It’s music that draws heavily from blues and country in a hit form that’s often danceable.
  • There should be hints of jazz, gospel or folk influence.
  • There should also be some technology influence.

“It’s a lot to ask of one song,” he said. “Few fit the bill.”

Candidates he and others have considered for the honor include “How High the Moon” by Les Paul and Mary Ford; “The Honey Dripper” by Joe Liggens; “Boogie Chllen'” by John Lee Hooker; “Saturday Night Fish Fry” by Louis Jordan; “The Fat Man” by Fats Domino; “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets; and “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats.

“An argument can be made for and against every song mentioned,” he said before adding “That’s All Right Mama” is a better fit than all of the other tunes.
Probably didn’t hurt that Elvis had a hit with the song, too.

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