The first rock record was by an African American. That much I am sure of. I am of the theory, and I am not alone in this thinking, that the first popular rock recording was made in 1947. It was from the catalog of music popular in the African American community and known as jump blues. Each of the songs below has backers, who can argue the merits of their song holding the title of first rock recording, but I tend to believe that this first one has the best claim on that title.
Good Rockin' Tonight was recorded by jump blues artist Wynonie Harris. He had several hits. Elvis and others later re-did this song but it was originally released way back in December 1947. It was released before any of the others on this list and it sure sounds like rock n' roll to me. See what you think.
Another contender for the title of the first rock record was officially recorded by an artist named Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. In actuality, the recording of Rocket 88 was by Ike Turner (same guy who had such a reputation for abusing Tina) and his band. Jackie was the lead singer but ended up getting credit on the label. Rocket 88 was huge and released in 1951.
The next contender shifts us up to the year 1954. Sh-Boom was recorded the first time by a group called the Chords. While I do not think of it as a serious contender for first rock recording, it is without a doubt the most influential of all the doo-wop songs and it got that whole craze going.
Realistically, the next song should not be on the list probably. But, when I began in radio this is the tune that we were all told was the first rock song. Probably not a coincidence that it was by a white artist. Bill Haley and the Comets recorded this song for the soundtrack of a controversial movie called "The Blackboard Jungle." Haley was kind of a frumpy guy, approaching middle age, and an unlikely rock star. Like the Chords, this song was released in 1954 and, while a catchy tune, the movie and the song title, with the word rock, did not hurt the song's chances for rock n' roll immortality. It might be immortal, but it was not the first popular rock recording. Here is We're Gonna Rock Around the Clock.
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspections