Turner is the first name one hears when entering the mythical Sun Records studios in Memphis, considered as the birthplace of rock and roll.
There Elvis Presley recorded his first single in the mid-1950s, but before him, Ike Turner made history with his single Rocket 88, recorded in 1951 by legendary producer Sam Phillips. It is the first album and the first track that is mentioned to the visitor to the studios, since it is considered the first rock and roll song in history, due to the distortion of its guitar, its catchy rhythm, and the influence it had on everything. what came next.
One piece of information that may be of interest to guitar lovers is that of rock historian Larry Birnbaum, who credits guitarist Willie Kizart with being the first musician to formally record examples of distortion and fuzz.
Well, according to Birnbaum that characteristic sound was achieved because Kizart’s amp was ripped. This is how the thick sound of the fuzzbox, used until today, was recorded for the first time.
Regarding the song, Ike Turner trusted the label of producing the first rock and roll track but was genuine in attempting to remain true to his R&B origins: “We recorded ‘Rocket 88’ and you know that’s why they say ‘Rocket 88’ was the first rock ‘n’ roll song, but the truth of the matter is, I don’t think that ‘Rocket 88’ is rock ‘n’ roll. I think that ‘Rocket 88’ is R&B, but I think ‘Rocket 88’ is the cause of rock and roll existing,” Turner said.
Addressing the legacy of the track in more particular, Turner continued: “Sam Phillips got Dewey Phillips to play ‘Rocket 88’ on his program—and this is like the first black record to be played on a white radio station—and, man, all the white kids broke out to the record shops to buy it. So that’s when Sam Phillips got the idea: ‘Well, man, if I get me a white boy to sound like a black boy, then I got me a gold mine’, which is the truth. So, that’s when he got Elvis and he got Jerry Lee Lewis and a bunch of other guys and so they named it rock and roll rather than R&B and so this is the reason I think rock and roll exists—not that ‘Rocket 88’ was the first one, but that was what caused the first one.”
However, the official credit for the song, despite the fact that it was recorded by her band, The Kings of Rhythm, was not given by her, but by singer Jackie Brenston, a fact that in a way was repeated throughout his career, since Tina Turner also clouded his stardom and later his addictions and the abuses perpetrated against her made the general public forget that Ike Turner was one of the great musicians of the 20th century.
Keep going for the song below: