I have to confess – I’ve been listening pretty closely for several decades now, and I still can’t tell what makes [insert name of “first rock & roll record” here] the first recording with the rock & roll beat, whether it be 1951’s “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston (backed by Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm) or Fats Domino’s “Fat Man” (his 1949 debut single) or Jimmy Preston’s “Rock the Joint” (also from 1949) or Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith’s, er, “Guitar Boogie” (from 1948) or Louis Jordan’s rollicking “Saturday Night Fish Fry” (1949).
Speaking of Louis Jordan, belated thanks to the music programmer at Annapolis, Maryland’s once mighty (get this) free-form, progressive commercial radio station (WRNR) who once quietly blew my mind years ago when he played a Louis Jordan boogie from 1947 — “Barnyard Boogie” — that unexpectedly featured a steel guitar solo:
“Barnyard Boogie” Louis Jordan & His Tympani Five 1947
Could this be the earliest boogie tune (or “fox trot”) to feature country-style steel guitar?
Endless gratitude to Old School Music Lover for hipping me to The Muppets’ own charmingly idiosyncratic take on this barnyard classic: