been researching to find out what was America’s, and therefore the world’s, third ever
rock & roll record release after Albert Ammons in 1936, and then Big Joe Turner
and Pete Johnson in 1938 (see earlier posts).
This suggestion might be a bit more contentious to the purist than my first and second releases, so feel
free to correct me. Anyway, here goes: it’s ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’, recorded
in 1940 by World War Two’s favourite all-girl close-harmony trio, The Andrews
Sisters. It was boogie, swing and jump blues, all at the same time.
has also been argued that Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy was one of the earliest
examples of rhythm & blues to hit the big time; except the Andrews Sisters
were white and the term rhythm & blues had yet to be invented. The term
rock & roll hadn’t been coined yet either but it didn’t stop Bing Crosby
proclaiming in 1939 that the Andrews Sisters’ songs were, “rock and roll with
unleashed enthusiasm tempered to strict four-four time”.
Greek, half Norwegian-American, maybe the real-life sisters from Minnesota were
too old and not quite hip enough in the rock & roll circles of the 1950s to have their
track recognized, but it sure rocks along to me. The Andrews Sisters had over
60 hit records during the war alone. Most were pop, but Bugle Boy straddled the
genres. Would it be rock & roll if it were released today with rocking
guitar backing? It all depends on your definition of rock & roll.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Other contenders for rock &
roll release # 3.
challenger was Sister Rosetta Tharpe (left) with ‘Rock Me’ in 1938. Good though it was,
it seemed more crooning gospel than rock & roll, but the Sister plays some
mean early electric guitar. The other contender was Buddy Jones in 1939 with ‘Rockin’,
Rollin’ Mama’. Its title sounded authentic enough but the track was more gentle
western swing than rock & roll.