Rocket 88 – Ike Turner And His Kings of Rhythm

THIS DAY IN MUSIC…………………………..on March 5th of 1951 Ike Turner And His Kings of Rhythm record “Rocket 88” with producer Sam Phillips at his Memphis Recording Service. When the up-tempo combination of Swing and Jazz is released, it is credited to Jackie Brenston And His Delta Cats and is now said by many music historians to be the first true Rock ‘n’ Roll record. In 1991, after a great deal of debate, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognized this as the first rock and roll song ever recorded. Turner was in jail at the time for cocaine possession, so his daughter accepted the award. The song is about a car. The Oldsmobile “Rocket 88” came out in 1949 and was the fastest car on the road at the time. A small car with a big, overhead valve V8 engine, it was one of the first muscle cars and dominated NASCAR races in the ’50s. The car was advertised as having a V-8 “Rocket” engine, with the slogan, “Make a Date with a Rocket 88.” Jackie Brenston, who was a member of Ike Turner’s Rhythm Kings, sang lead. The single was credited to “Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats” because Phillips wanted to release a different record credited to Turner. This song came about when Turner and his band were playing black clubs in the American South and B.B. King set up a recording session for them in Memphis with Sam Phillips. They wrote most of “Rocket 88” on the way to the session. On the drive to the session, the band’s amplifier fell out of the car and broke the woofer. Turner shoved paper in it at the studio to cover the problem, which ended up providing a more distinct sound. The sounds that came from the damaged amp resulted in this being cited as one of the first songs to feature guitar distortion. Brenston was credited with writing this song, although he admitted he stole the idea from a 1947 song called “Cadillac Boogie.” This was a #1 R&B hit. There were no rock charts at the time.