Sunday, March 6, 2011

It Started In A Jungle ...

Hey ... lemme see a show of baby-boomer hands out there: How many of you saw the movie, Blackboard Jungle, starring Glenn Ford, Sidney Poitier and Vic Morrow?
Well, here's a little 411 for ya: The movie was the biggest, single video catalyst for the creation of the rock-n-roll attitude back in the Fifties.

Y'see, until that Poitier classic hit the big screen, we felt like it was an unwritten-but-established-by-old-folks requirement to be square. We didn't dig that scene, and the movie just made us more determined to break that rusty chain holding us down to "their" way of life .
Ahhh, but the "old guard" had a tight grip on all-things-teenage ... that is, until a gyrating, sultry-sounding dude from Memphis -- someone the DJ's called Elvis -- began to shake, rattle and roll things up. Thanks to him, (and Ed Sullivan, who said Presley could be shown only from waist up when he first appeared on the show) we finally found a serious role model to parlay the mood we got from Jungle.

Whilst copying this character was giving us the physical personality we needed to match the mood ... over in England, parents didn't want this new American rocker (amongst others) "polluting" their children, so they gave them a substitute by pulling an old vaudeville music called skiffle from the vaults and letting the youngsters "have a go" at it.

But the kids were already into stateside blues and had gotten their first taste of The King, so, as they formed three-to-six-man groups, they excitedly began covering both on the acoustic guitar, tea-chest bass and washboard setup. One such skiffle group, The Drifters, dug Elvis and hired on a young frontman named Harry Webb (who changed his name to Cliff Richard) because he sounded so much like the former truck-driver from Memphis.
They also grooved to the smooth sounds of America's surf-rock electric guitarist Duane Eddy and decided to amplify themselves, changing their name to The Shadows to keep from being confused with our doo-woppers of the Drifter name. This sound was so totally awesome that other skifflers decided to do the same -- including one called The Quarrymen.

These guys thinned their ranks down to a four-man band and changed their name to The Beatles (in honor of America's Buddy Holly and the Crickets). Then, with a combination of the restlessness found in Blackboard Jungle, the electric sounds inspired by the Shadows and a desire to make a noise in the rock world that would equal Presley's, began knocking out sets that fired up audiences throughout Liverpool.

But WAIT! There's MORE ... and all ya gotta do is tune in to future posts!


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