Rocking blues from 1938

Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Manchester, England, in 1964

Another film about the rocking blues that pre-empted rock ‘n’ roll. This is Part Three.



Got a few minutes to spare watching a video? Come aboard and come for the ride



Come for a Cadillac ride with Jimmy Liggins and his Drops of Joy. Take in Memphis Slim and Arthur ‘Big Boy Crudup.

This video then finishes with an historic clip of Sister Rosetta Tharpe playing gospel blues on a derelict railway station in Manchester, England.

This unusual blues event took place in May 1964, for Granada TV’s Blues and Gospel Train series. Ten million tuned in to watch, such was the burgeoning interest in American blues in Britain at that time, including Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and a 14-year old yours truly.

Rosetta was performing a song she had recorded in 1944. It became the first gospel blues to top the Harlem Hit Parade.

Brian Jones (left) and Keith Richards journeyed up to Manchester in 1964 to get educated with the blues. They were joined by other British blues icons.

The event was so culturally significant that Keith Richards, Brian Jones,

Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck all journeyed up to Manchester to watch it.

Other blues legends performing that day were Muddy Waters, the duo Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Cousin Joe, Otis Spann and the Reverend Gary Davis.

And don’t forget to look out for that track recorded in 1938.

“Anyone interested in rock ‘n roll history should be following @paulgmerry. Here is his take on its early history.” Heather C Richardson @HC_Richardson – Boston, MA. 24 February 2016.



  1. …Mac Rebennack would always call out Cousin Joe before he played a particular slow blues…I have a 45 where he performs "Hole In the Ground", the flip is Sam Butera's sax instrumental "Easy Rockin"…
    …Joe Boyd, who later produced Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, and Maria Muldaur, was the road manager for the "Blues and Gospel Train"…Joe talks about it in his book "White Bicycles"…

  2. I believe the correct lyrics are “She got eyes like diamonds, teeth shine like Klondike gold.”

  3. Jim’s referring to Big Joe Turner’s lyrics in “Roll ’em Pete’, a track featured in the film above.

    It’s revolutionary rock & roll jump blues from way back in 1938, by the duo of boogie woogie pianist, PeteJohnson, and Big Joe Turner – earliest record number three on my countdown of rocking blues songs that pre-empted rock & roll.

    You may be right Jim, ‘Teeth’ sounds very plausible. Listening to the track, I thought Joe was singing ‘She shines etc’.

    Checking song on Google, the first three lot of lyrics I encountered all said ‘they shine like Klondike gold’.

    However, I think your ‘Teeth’ makes much more sense than my ‘She’ and their ‘They’. Mind you, as you know, singers often change their lyrics as they go.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.