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C O U R S E 
History of Rock and Roll, Part One
John Covach, University of Rochester
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
1950s Crossovers and Cover Versions
Notes taken on August 2, 2013 by Edward Tanguay
Cashbox and Billboard
record industry charts
from 1942 to 1996
now revived online
unlike Billboard, Cashbox initially combined all currently available recordings of a song into one chart position with artist and label information shown for each version, alphabetized by label
Billboard (1894-today)
international news magazine devoted to music and the music industry, and is one of the oldest trade magazines in the world
not fan magazines but to help advise people who are in the business of providing music services, e.g. a Jukebox, radio or retail business, to know which music is currently popular
mainstream pop
middle-class white audience
rhythm & blues
urban black audience
country & western
rural white audience mostly in farming communities or those who were displaced into urban communities
chart numbers
chart numbers are a fairly course instrument to find out the popularity of a record
there is not much difference between a number 1,2,3, or 4 record
however, a number 20 record is a different kind of phenomenon than a number 1 record
help us from getting in the fan mentality
when you look at the chart data, you see that many of the records of famous singers were not that popular at all and there are many artists who have number 1 and 2 records who you have probably never heard of
crossover songs
mainly this means a song going from the Country & Western or Rhythm & Blues chart to the Mainstream Pop chart
e.g. same song and artist: Little Richard's Tutti Frutti plays on the Rhythm & Blues charts for awhile, then gets popular on the Mainstream Pop charts
e.g. same song, different artist: Little Richard's Tutti Fruiti plays on the Rhythm & Blues charts, then is covered by Pat Boone on the Pop Charts
the song by Pat Boone goes up on the pop charts but not the R&B charts
in the case of Tutti Frutti, both the record and the song crossed over
cover versions
people were already doing many different versions of songs within each chart market
white people such as Pat Boone were remaking R&B hits and making money off of this on the pop charts played by radio stations which would not allow black musicians to play on, this was increasingly a controversial issue as by 1958, 84% of R&B hits were crossing over to the pop charts
other ways musicians were taken advantage of
many times musicians did not even own the rights to the songs they were performing, they signed that away when they recorded
"what would you rather have, I'll pay you 50 bucks for the session or I'll give you a certain percentage of the earning over time" and many of the musicians took the money since they didn't know how good their songs would do or if they would ever see that person again.
controversy: is this unfair or not?
white artists argued that these songs would not have been allowed to be played on the radio as they were because the lyrics would have been too adult-themed
Bill Haley (1925-1981)
one of the first rock and roll musicians
Bill Haley & His Comets
Rock Around the Clock
sold over 25 million records worldwide
self-admitted alcoholic, fought battle with alcohol into the 70s
1980 brain tumor
Chuck Berry (1926-)
1955 Maybelline
"Chuck Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, with lyrics focusing on teen life and consumerism and utilizing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music"
1944: in prison for robbery
1947: turned 21 and released from prison
signed with Chess records
Little Richard (1932-)
dynamic music and charismatic showmanship laid the foundation for rock and roll
third-eldest of twelve
father was a church deacon who sold bootlegged moonshine on the side and owned his own nightclub
began singing in church at a young age
1948: left school after his father kicked him out of the family house
1955 was a tipping point, this crossing-over thing started to go from a once-in-awhile occurrence to a very regular occurring phenomenon, which is why we can view 1955 as the beginning of Rock & Roll