Updated and reformatted March 31st 2017

Chuck Berry (God bless him) is one of the finest lyricists known to rock & roll. Chuck also plays inimitable, dynamic, guitar-driven old-school rhythm & blues. Except Chuck’s style isn’t quite that inimitable. That’s because, in April 1949, sounding very much like the Chuck Berry we all know and love, someone else released a song that was pure Chuck Berry.

Goree Carter preceded Chuck Berry
He was Goree Carter, an 18-year-old black electric guitarist from Houston, Texas, and his record was ‘Rock Awhile’. It was a track that helped, perhaps, change the very nature of rock music. Rock Awhile was written and performed by Carter with his jump blues band, The Hepcats. The song did everything a groundbreaking rhythm & blues record is supposed to do, except chart highly.
Wrote respected rock author, Robert Palmer, in his 1992 book, Church Of The Cosmic Guitar: “Rock Awhile in April 1949 … has been cited as a strong contender for the title of first rock and roll record and is a much more appropriate candidate than the more frequently cited, ‘Rocket 88’ (1951), by Ike Turner. The intro to Rock Awhile also resembles those in several Chuck Berry records from 1955 onwards.”
Again, Albert Ammons with Boogie Woogie Stomp in 1936 (see archive), would dispute that Rock Awhile was the world’s first rock & roll record. But, without doubt, Goree Carter was yet another unsung musical pioneer way ahead of his time. As
we all know, the world is, unfortunately, full of such musicians.
Carter, whose first release was Sweet Ole Woman Blues in 1949, recorded for several labels in the early 1950s, but last recorded in 1954. He continued to play
occasional local gigs in Houston with his last live performance being in 1970.
Goree Carter died in Houston, aged 59, in 1990.
Rock Awhile, from 1949, goes onto my list of the world’s first true rock & roll releases. Whether it’s number seven, eight, nine or ten is yet to be determined.