Dr. J's Blog
Rock and Roll History, News & Views
On July 5, 2014, rock and roll music celebrates its 60th birthday. Why was that date selected as the birth of rock and roll? Most rock music historians would undoubtedly claim that the much-disputed first rock and roll song was recorded well before that date.
The reason is Elvis Presley. It was on that day in July that Presley, along with guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black and Sun Records owner Sam Phillips, recorded “That’s All Right” in Memphis. This event turned out to be the “big bang” of rock and roll and hailed the emergence of the artist who would define this new genre of music like no other.
Noel Paul Stookey achieved world-wide fame as 'Paul' in Peter, Paul and Mary, the most important and successful folk music trio of the 1960's. During that decade, Peter, Paul and Mary charted 20 singles on Billboard's Hot 100, including 5 Top Ten hits ("If I had A Hammer", "Puff The Magic Dragon", "Blowin' In The Wind", "Don't Think Twice It's All Right", "I Dig Rock And Roll Music") and the group's sole #1 – 1969's "Leaving On A Jet Plane". In addition, the trio had 11 hit albums, including two that reached # 1; their debut "Peter, Paul & Mary" in 1962 and "In The Wind" in 1963.
Only a minority of the fans of Peter, Paul, and Mary, however, know that Stookey moved to Michigan when he was an adolescent, and that he started his recording career in the state as a member of a high school doo wop vocal group called The Birds Of Paradise. Fewer still realize that he began honing his skills as an entertainer and folksinger while a freshman at Michigan State University, and that his first college sweetheart was a pretty young co-ed from Bay City, Michigan.
Janis Joplin was the first white woman to rise to prominence as a blues singer and also one of the first successful female lead singers in rock. Her brief but meteoric rise to fame ended prematurely at age 27 by a heroin overdose, but her influence is still being felt more than four decades later. Joplin is currently the subject of a highly entertaining and informative musical production titled A Night With Janis Joplin at the venerable Lyceum Theatre located at 149 West 45th Street in New York City.