Let’s hit the road with some highway hits and cruising classics. After all, rock ‘n’ roll wouldn’t exist without wheels. Larry and Lori, the rockabilly act who made up The Collins Kids, knew the value of owning your very first set of wheels. I couldn’t wait to get mine, which turned out to be a ’46 Ford V8.
One of my favorite genres in pop music, vocal group harmony, is better known as doo-wop. I appreciate doo-wop because of its simplicity, innocence, romance, novelty, and sound. Performed with or without instrumental accompaniment, it plays a vital part in the formation of rock ‘n’ roll. Its influence is enormous. Had it not been for a group like Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Michael Jackson (for one) might not ever have existed.
Today’s muse features just about the most talented and inventive pop music star that ever existed: the extraordinary Roy Orbison. Born in Vernon, Texas in 1936, the emotional operatic ballad singer-songwriter Roy Kelton Orbison was at heart a true rock ‘n’ roller. What was it about the Big O (as he was called) that made him such a unique and popular artist? His voice? His guitar work? His glasses? His appearance? His unusual songwriting? His aloof stage presence?
Let’s talk about what I call the meat and potatoes of rock and roll—a style that permeated the sixties. We’ll call it garage band rock: music made by groups of band musicians who often rehearsed in their garage and often created a hit or two locally, regionally, and if lucky nationally. Instruments needed? A couple of guitars, a bass, maybe a sax, and some keyboards, usually an organ. Add to that some aggressive or unsophisticated lyrics along with a basic simple chord structure, and you have a composition that defines the youth culture from the late fifties up to about 1968. The best example is by a group known as The Kingsmen in 1963.