Column #29 - published January 5, 2000
When rock'n'roll first exploded on the music scene in the mid 1950s, many intellectuals attacked it as a silly, if not barbaric, music form which would not last more than six months.
We can perhaps excuse this kind of ignorant analysis by European intellectuals longing for a return to Europe's past greatness and traditions, but it's hard to understand how the music writers of the New York Times and other mainstream American publications could have made such an erroneous assessment!!
They should have known better, since this "new" music was anything but that! The basic sound and feel had been around for at least 20-30 years. Before World War Two Jimmie Rodgers had mixed Hillbilly Music with Jazz, Swing and Blues to come up with a sound fairly close to rock'n'roll.
Arguably Jimmy Lunceford was singing rock'n'roll in the 1930s and Hank Williams had the "rockabilly thing" in the late 1940s and early 1950s!
Boogie Woogie, basically piano rock'n'roll, had been very popular since the 1930s with Jazz, Country, Blues, Swing and Pop Music fans. Boogie Woogie had become "crossover" music, 15 years before "Blue Suede Shoes" would top the Country & Western, Rhythm & Blues and Pop charts at the same time!
Rock'n'Roll was deeply connected to America's soul, and rooted in American traditions and sounds going back to the 1930s and beyond.
So why should have anybody been surprised at the success of this "new" music, and doubted its viability and endurance?
(Thanx to Kathy Kirchner and Sue VanHecke for the photo)
I have to conclude that racism against African Americans, and Left-wing snobbism against Southerners played a major part in these attacks.
The fuzzy-headed Limousine Liberal philosophy of the New York Times is well documented. Outside of Hitler, Joseph Stalin is without doubt the most evil man of this century, having caused the death of well over ten million people.
Yet the New York Times' chief foreign correspondent Walter Duranty wrote glowing articles in praise of Stalin, all the while covering up the mass murders. Stalin had thus a free hand to exterminate millions of people. For his work Duranty received the Pulitzer Price.
To this day the New York Times refuses to apologize for having facilitated Stalin's mass murders through its biased reportage.
So this then was the same high brow snobbish publication attacking rock'n'roll and its Southern roots! Joining it in its assaults against rock'n'roll were the White Segregationists and Ku Klux Klan types with their tirades against "n...er music". These racist low-lifes were incensed that rock'n'roll was bringing the races together and breaking down the barriers of segregation like nothing else had succeeded before!
Gene Vincent told me that in many places his audiences were almost equally split: 50% Whites and 50% Blacks. The Ku Klux Klan was very unhappy about this situation, and often threatened artists such as Vincent, Presley, Holly, etc. with retaliation.
In Italy, where I grew up, the Communist Party considered Rock'n'Roll, blue jeans, Coca Cola, etc., as part of a massive American capitalist conspiracy.
Similarly, the Neo-Fascist "Missini" (Movimento Sociale Italiano) were outraged that "American Wild West Ways" and "Jungle Music" were destroying the rich Italian heritage, and corrupting Italian youth!
Well, Rock'n'Roll survived these global assaults, only to be ambushed again by a watered down Philadelphia Teen Idol Sound, and then was almost mortally wounded by Psychedelia and that whole drugged Sick Sicksties Scene!
But here we are in the year 2000 and Rock'n'Roll / Rockabilly seems to be at its strongest and most productive state since the 1950s!!
The Millenium looks very positve for our music, and we have to thank the Internet in general, and this site in particular, for having played a major part to insure the vibrancy of Rock in the coming years !!
Always Rollin' The Rock,
Rockin' Ronny Weiser
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