Featured Photo: Downtown Jacksonville in the mid-1950’s.
by Dennis Crenshaw
Many of you will care less about this posting. But as someone once said, (don’t ask me who, but it sounds good) “If you own the vehicle, you do the driving.”
With that in mind I’m taking over the site to present to the few who might care an open window into my early life. So come with me back, way back to about 1958. This was a time of innocence. We had never heard of pot. Sex was taboo for most young people. And the Illuminati was a word I had never even heard of.
Image: 1950’s Rock and Rollers in their local hangout.
I was 15, a Rock and Roller in my last year of Jr. High and the music was my life. It was the time of waiting weekly for the latest hits of Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and all the one time wonders of the times. I wore my hair in a D.A. (Ducks Ass) greased back with Royal Crown Hair Dressing, jeans folded up into cuffs at the bottom outside my Fred Myers engineer boots. and went to City sponsored dances at one of the City parks on Friday nights.
Summer days were spent at Jacksonville Beach or at one of the many theaters downtown where you could set in “Air Condition” for a few hours and watch Artie Murphy or Randolph Scott outdraw the bad guys. A quarter (plus 10 cents for popcorn and a nickle for a Coke) got you a double feature, a few cartoons, a News Reel and Coming attractions.
The television shows of the times were lousy and we only had AM Radio. The only Rock and Roll show on our local radio station “Scotty’s Music Box” with local DJ Scotty Furgenson only lasted for two hours on Saturday night. We learned of the new music from jukeboxes which were everywhere and by going around to the many record stores in Jacksonville.
In the summer of 1958 my best friend and next door neighbor Willard Roman bought a 1949 Nash Rambler. Probably one of the ugliest cars of the times. But don’t tell him that. This transport opened a whole new world for us. Mainly Drive-in Theaters, double-dating and weekends at the beach without our parents. What little money we could scrape up we saved for the weekend double dating at the drive-in or to go to the beach. After all gas was 29 cents a gallon.
So we would set in his Rambler in the driveway and dream of making that California Trip. We also discovered another thing. Late at night his powerful AM car radio would pick up 50,000 watt stations all over the eastern portion of the country, like WCKY Cincinnati Ohio.
One night as he was searching the dial why down in the high numbers, 1510 to be exact he picked up a different sounding voice from WLAC Nashville Tennessee. that voice was DJ John “R”.
We discovered the world of Blues – the roots of Rock and Roll. My life and love of music was never the same. I became an instant Blues-man and have remained one ever since and I never missed another night listening to John R. until I joined the Army January 4, 1961.
Image: WLAC – DJ John R. who developed a cult-like following across the Southern United States as a white man who sounded black and introduced black blues music to a whole generation of listeners both black and white.
So without further ado meet the one and only . . . John R., WLAC, Nashville Tennessee and the magic music we heard those late nights long ago setting in a driveway in Jacksonville Florida, coming from a place we had never seen many, many miles away. And while I’m at it I’ve put together a little blues show of my own. Excuse me while I indulge.
John R Richbourg – TnRHOF 2012 Inductee
YouTube ~ TennRadioHOF
John R – Cissy Strut (The Meters)
YouTube ~ warehambr
Go to Page 2 for the rest of the story
WLAC-AM 1510 Tenn Radio Hall Of Fame Station Of The Year
YouTube ~ TennRadioHOF
Nashville Black Music | Many Rivers | NPT
YouTube ~ wnptvideos
WLAC in Nashville was one of the first 50,000 watt radio stations to play music by black artists. At night, it could be heard as far away as Canada, and helped change the musical tastes of American youth in the 50’s
John R – Turn On The Bright Lights (Albert Washington)
YouTube ~ warehambr
Robert Johnson Sweet Home Chicago (1936)
Robert Johnson is the father of the blues and is said to have sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads of Highways 49 and 61 to be able to play the guitar with the power he had. . .
A break in the music to look at the legend of Robert Johnson and his trip to the crossroads and what some of the witnesses who knew him at the time have to say. . .
Did Robert Johnson really sell his soul?
Muddy Waters – Champagne & Reefer
Slim Harpo Baby, Scratch My Back
YouTube ~ Allan Gange
Here is a radio commercial from WLAC for the Royal Crown Hairdressing used by yours truly to keep my pride and joy duck tail haircut in place through a whole night of dancing. The voice you hear making this rare commercial is none other than Little Richard. (As if you couldn’t tell). . . Your Editor Dennis Crenshaw
gene nobles’ “royal crown hairdressing” commercials / little richard
YouTube ~ knuckletc
Big Joe Turner – Shake, Rattle, & Roll (Live)
YouTube ~ BIGJOETURNERVEVO
Andre Williams “Bacon Fat” (1956)
YouTube ~ BobSeger1981
Andre Williams “Bacon Fat”
Prior to “Village of Love,” Fortune’s biggest-selling record was likely “Bacon Fat” (Fortune 831 and Epic 9196, late 1956) by Andre Williams and His New Group, which featured Williams’ proto-rap over a sleazy, bluesy arrangement. “Bacon Fat” (the name of the song refers to a dance) reached No. 9 R&B on the Billboard chart in early 1957 after it was leased to Columbia’s Epic subsidiary for national distribution.
Here is the original Hound Dog recorded by Big Mama in 1951.
(1965) Blues by Big Mama Thornton – Hound Dog and Down Home Shakedown
YouTube ~ Duncan Automatic Stop
Published on Sep 19, 2012
Blues in a perfect way: 2 Parts of a life show in 1965: In the 1st part Big Mama Thornton is singing Hound Dog.
2:35 In the 2nd part Big Mama Thornton, John Lee Hooker, Big Walter Horton & Dr Ross are playing on the harmonica Down Home Shakedown.
For fair use only.
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, I Put a Spell on You (1956)
Sonny Boy Williamson – Keep it to Yourself
YouTube ~ Angel E Prieto
Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Didn’t It Rain
YouTube ~ 180boring
Lightnin Hopkins – Have you ever loved a woman
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee – You Bring Out The Boogie In Me
YouTube ~ MrShaggerDJ
John R WLAC Nashville Interview and Final Radio Show
YouTube ~ TennRadioHOF
John Richbourg of WLAC on the occasion of his final radio show on WLAC-AM Nashville after 31 years. From Programmers Digest, courtesy of Pat Reilly.
Well there you have it. A little piece of my life time love of the blues. I know I got carried away but I could have added hundreds more of my favorites R and B recordings and artists. Of course there is nothing stopping you from exploring YouTube and other places on your own to find the blues you personally like, and I hope you do.
However, I would not be satisfied with this posting without including one more song. The blues song that I feel was written just for me. Sonny and Brownies recording of, “White Boy Lost in the Blues”. . . Your Editor Dennis Crenshaw
White Boy Lost In The Blues
YouTube ~ Brownie McGhee – Topic
By the way… The song was really written for the white boy heard on the recording playing piano and singing and playing second harp during the last verse, John Mayall. . . Your Editor Dennis Crenshaw.
Dig a Little DEEPER: Dennis Crenshaw – Thoughts From an Underground Insider
By Request: A Little More 5/16/17
Night Train Music Program 1965
Night Train was produced in Nashville from TV station WLAC Channel 5 and aired from 1964 – 1967. The show was hosted by Noble Blackwell. On this edition we have the talents of Buddy and Stacey, Jimmy Church, The Avons, Spidels, Tony Clarke, Pamela Releford and several other acts. The picture & sound quality are a bit rough on this one but I know you’ll enjoy the program
Rhythm & Blues Revue (1955) full movie