Big Joe Turner
Hall of Fame Essay
“Rock and roll would have never happened without him,” songwriter Doc Pomus remarked in Rolling Stone magazine on the occasion of Big Joe Turner’s death in 1985 at the age of seventy-four.
Turner, a Kansas City born-and-bred blues shouter, had already more than earned the appellation the Boss of the Blues when he found himself the harbinger of a new sound and style.
The version of “Shake, Rattle and Roll” he recorded for Atlantic in 1954 was the sort of forthright rhythm and blues side that generally never made it to the pop charts—as he sang it, the tune wasn’t exactly about dancing. But later that year, when Bill Haley and His Comets sanitized the lyrics and simplified the beat, they really started something.
if you weren’t in a world of trouble what would you have to sing about?
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