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An unknown hero of rock and roll

So much has been said endlessly about who contributed what to the history of rock and roll. There are constant arguments over who had the greatest impact and who influenced the most people. Arguments as well over where rock and roll started.

For me, these are very simple history lessons that all musicians should know.

Rock and roll started back when cavemen were on earth. Music has never changed. All that changed was the presentation of music. Tell me, did the Ink Spots sound any different than the Platters? Did Ray Charles sound differently to anyone after 1955 than he did before 1955? You see, it's all in how you wish to interpret rock and roll and it's origins.

For me, rock and roll started in the south. It really was basically hillbilly music. Nothing else. All that was changed was that Elvis and Buddy Holly took it to the next level by emphasizing the beat. Drums were almost non-existent in most of the music before the mid-1950's. And so hillbilly became rockabilly… That is the birth of rock and roll. How do I know? The most influential artists of the genre played rockabilly. Chuck Berry… Elvis… Buddy Holly… The Beatles… The list is endless. Yes, Little Richard played a blend of R and B and Gospel. But again, did he have more influence than any of the above? The same with the great blues players. Sure they had impact on the rockabilly players since most of the genre was based in three chord, 12 bar blues.

Now to me, I will say this honestly, there are heroes of rock and roll who have been wrongly maligned by many in the industry. I believe they did play a role in helping expose the world to great artists but have been attacked because they supposedly stole music from others. One artist I am talking about is Pat Boone. As you may recall, Boone covered all sorts of rock and roll tunes that were written and recorded by black artists in the 1950's. He is subject to hate in many circles because he is accused of stealing the songs when in reality he simply covered (recorded) songs that were unable to get airplay on most radio stations in the early days of rock and roll because of the discrimination against black artists. However, he introduced these songs to America and opened the door in many ways to the originators of the songs. Had he not done them, someone else would have. That is true as well. So for more than 60 years he has taken the bullet for simply doing something to help right an injustice. But it will never be viewed this way because it doesn't make as good a story. However, in my opinion, it is obvious.

Why is it that Pat Boone is attacked while Elvis is not? Elvis did the very same thing. He recorded cover version of songs like "Tutti Frutti" and "That's All Right, Mama" which were both originated by African-American artists. The reason? He was Elvis. You may as well paint a mustache on the Mona Lisa.

So here I simply offer historians a chance to correct the attacks that have been levied against those like Pat Boone who opened the door through his work to many artists who otherwise might never have seen the light of day. This is just a thought that I believe deserves some attention.

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