Rock n roll had to start somewhere, and this gloriously raucous cut from Chess Records in ’51 is a good place to start. This was a 19 yr old Ike Turner record fair and square – Jackie Brenston was the bass player of Ike’s band, and he did write the thing, but why Sam Phillips put Jackie’s name on the label is anyones guess.
Ike had no reason to complain, as it went on to be the best selling song of ’51 and put Chess on the map big time. It was a bit of a one take mess with an out of tune sax and a line that sounded way too wild for the times – “Everybody in my car’s gonna take a little pill..”
It’s a 12 bar jump blues homage to the Oldsmobile ‘Rocket’ 88 – a ripoff of a 1947 song “Cadillac Boogie” by Jimmy Liggins (see below) as well as a ’49 instrumental called Rocket Boogie 88. The Olds 88 was indeed a rocket; a combination of a light body and a crazyass V8 it was the car to beat in those early NASCAR days when it dominated right into the ’50s.
Sonically it’s said that the rain-damaged amp that provided the fuzzed out over-amped guitar part was every bit as influential, but let’s just enjoy this blast of rockin’ innuendo.
So I give you Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats inventing rock and roll. Ike, take it away…