Anyone Know the Real Birthplace of Rock N Roll? – A Brief History

Though I’ve been telling people since I can remember that Rock And Roll was born in my own little humble hometown of Hattiesburg, Ms., not many believe me. I know it to be true. Even the honorable Rolling Stone Magazine agrees as mentioned in Wikipedia….

Birthplace of Rock and Roll It is a little-known fact that music scholars consider Hattiesburg to be the historic birthplace of rock and roll. [weasel words] As noted in the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, Hattiesburg was a recording location of Blind Roosevelt Graves and his brother, Uaroy Graves, who, along with piano player Cooney Vaughn, recorded two songs in 1936 that “…featured fully formed rock & roll guitar riffs and a stomping rock & roll beat.” The Graves Brothers and Vaughn–performing as the Mississippi Jook Band–recorded the songs ‘Barbecue Bust’ and ‘Dangerous Woman’ for the American Record Company, reportedly at the Hattiesburg Train Station.

Why pray-tell did my naive community fail to capitalize on that and so many other cities and towns across America make it faux claims to such origins? Heaven knows. Maybe it didn’t know better, perhaps it was embarrassed. I did not even know until years after I moved away. They’ve never even built a museum commemorating it. (It was always hard for folks to agree down there on much as I remember it).

Less than a decade later, a young singer just out of the military from Tupelo, Ms also made a bit of a splash in the Rock N’ Roll hall of fame. People simply called him “Elvis”. It was journaled that Elvis was always a very polite young man who was reluctantly pushed into fame and fortune, but actually enjoyed “the creative process” much more than the hype (we would later discover that the stress and anxiety of the hype became his demise, unfortunately).

That same small plot of Mississippi land, within miles of Elvis, also gave us B.B. King, Morgan Freeman, John Grisham, William Faulkner, Willie Morris, and other legends too many to count. How could that be, being in the least educated state in the country at the time, and in that particular part of the state, the poorest?

Though I don’t put myself in any of those giant’s league, but am in a creative field, I can only surmise that they had no choice but to be creative. If I remember correctly, and I believe I do, anyone who was “outside the norm” or “creative” was generally pushed to the fringe in the rural south in those days. I have heard it has changed and I hope and pray so.

Of course then came the British invasion in 1963. The mop-styled young men (It is hard for me to believe that I am now old enough to be their fathers) swept the nation like a giant Hoover Vacuum. For many years, Elvis was almost invisible and forget B.B. King. The Beatles were talked about at any function as often as death and taxes.

And even though they kept their most unique presence after many followers entered the scene, such as The Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five, Zombies, Chad and Jeremy, Peter And Gorden (anyone remember all these?), and so many more.

Finally in 1969, America showcased its own home-grown entities in a concert on a little farm in Woodstock, N.Y owned by a man named Max Yasgur.

It was simply called “Woodstock” (maybe because it was easier to remember than Yasgur). Bands and musicians such as Quicksilver Messenger Service, Richie Havens, Crosby, Stills & Nash (Neil Young was not there yet), Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Joe Cocker, Country Joe And The Fish, Arlo Guthrie, Janis Joplin and many others showed their wares. But heavy rains and public sex in muddy areas often stole the show. It was to be a musical statement about U.S. Foreign policy in Viet Nam, and sent a very strong message (which was often diluted with abstract vague statements clouded from psychedelic highs.

The music was recorded and it became a legend.

My “better half”-s daughter, age seven, loves Elvis. I do Elvis impressions (fairly well). I call her on the phone and tell her “I love you, Priscilla, Thank you, Thank YOUUUU Ver’ Much!” She chuckles loudly and pretends to be Priscilla.

I am over fifty now but still enjoy classic rock (and earlier rock, blues, folk, etc.) music. A lot of people my age tell me they cannot bear to listen to the music today that kids do. I beg to disagree. I don’t like it all, of course, but didn’t when I was their age either. Now I find it most useful for my daily walks (on the headphones) instructed by my cardiologist (deep sniff). Could it be possible? Did time fly by that fast?

One last funny story.

I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting. I saw a magazine on the desk with Paul McCartney on the cover a few years ago. I picked it up thinking it was probably Rolling Stone or some similar popular music magazine. I opened it to the McCartney story without even looking what the magazine was.

Upon reading the story, I noticed Paul didn’t talk a lot about music but about his aging. Interesting article but I was confused. It was time for me to see the doctor so I put it down, looked back and it was Moder Maturity Magazine.

So much for “the good old days”. Yes, youth is wasted on the young.