"When the white kids would buy my records, they'd have to hide 'em from their parents."
- Little Richard
Besides Guardians of the Galaxy there are two other movies I'm anxiously awaiting the first which opens the same day as Guardians (Aug. 1st) is Get On Up the James Brown biopic starring Chadwick Boseman and the other is "All is by my Side" which really isn't a typical biopic but features Andre 3000 as Jimi Hendrix and how he evolved over a year and a half.
I love all kinds of music but I LOVE ROCKIN' AND ROLLIN"! Who doesn't? Some people are very specific about what Rock and Roll really is. I myself feel that if the music moves ya and grooves ya, well then Rock ON! That encompasses a lot of different musical genres Blues, R&B, Soul, etc.. The term Rock and Roll was popularized by Alan Freed in 1951 but the term goes way back before then. Some say it was used to describe the first rides on trains. Others say it was also used by the men building those railroads, who would sing to keep the pace, swinging their hammers down to drill a hole into the rock, and the men who held the steel spikes would "rock" the spike back and forth to clear rock or "roll", twisting it to improve the "bite" of the drill. In the early 1900's they began using the phrase in several songs as a polite euphemism for (do I really have to spell it out for you?) s.e.x..
Like I was saying this article is about Rockin' biopics these aren't documentaries they're dramatizations of the lives of geniuses whose music influenced or as some would say "corrupted" the lives of millions of horny young ordinary people. I'm not listing these as my top ten (some of my favorites though)or by their release dates instead I'll place them in historical perspective. I'll start in 1947 with Race Music. That was the term for music made by black people that was becoming popular so like everything else back then they segregated it, even gave them a separate top 40 list. Most likely because they didn't want the young white folks corrupted by this music. Leonard Chess recognized the greatness of this music and with his brother Phil started Chess records which became known as Cadillac records. That's when things got electric!
The film stars Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess, Cedric the Entertainer as Willie Dixon, Mos Def as Chuck Berry, Columbus Short as Little Walter, Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters, Eamonn Walker as Howlin' Wolf, and Beyoncé Knowles as Etta James. The movie isn't without it's critics but for me these are some strong portrayals of the original influences and originators of Rock and Roll.
I loved this movie primarily because of the music. Many songs created by Chess artists were later covered by famous Rock n' Roll acts like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and Eric Clapton. Some of the core riffs created by Bo Diddley, Willie Dixon, Chuck Berry, Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters and others were the basis of a wide amount of Rock n' Roll.
In the early 50's Ray Charles began fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues in his jump blues and boogie-woogie style recordings. His music was not only a major influence on Rock and Roll and country music but he would go on to help integrate the entire music business.
Jamie Fox won the academy award for his amazing portrayal of Charles in this film directed by Taylor Hackford just watch him "Mess Around"
Over in Memphis there was another record studio called Sun Recording Studio. This is where historians say the first "Rock and Roll" record was recorded in March of 1951.
Sam Phillips owner of Sun started thinking ''If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.'' Well on the night of July 5, 1954 Presley took his guitar and launched into a 1946 blues number, Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right". A legend was born. Elvis is a TV biopic and stars Kurt Russell in the title role. Shelley Winters, Season Hubley, Bing Russell and Pat Hingle play supporting roles. The film was not only a breakout role for Russell but was directed by John Carpenter. You might have heard of a couple of other films they made together.
Get on Up (2014)
During this time A guy by the name of James Brown had been singing with the "Famous Flames". By 1955, the group had gotten in contact with another pioneer of Rock by the name of Little Richard, who Brown idolized. Little Richard wrote Please, Please, please on a napkin and James made it into a hit song in 1955. It's no wonder he became known as "the Godfather of Soul"
Funk, soul whatever his music rocks and Chadwick Boseman who just played sports legnd Jackie Robinson is about to "Get On Up" as Music Legend James Brown. Opening Aug. 1st
Great Balls of Fire (1989)
In the late 50's Elvis was King but he'd been drafted into the army. That's when Jerry Lee Lewis almost stole his crown.
His manic behavior included crashing his car into the gates of Presley's Graceland mansion while drunk. This was nothing compared to the scandal that ruined his bid for the crown. He married his 13 year old cousin. This movie was based on the book written by Lewis' first wife/cousin but was panned for being historically inaccurate but even Lewis (who hated the film) himself thought Dennis Quaid did a pretty good job portraying him.
By the end of the 50's Rock and Roll was burning up the charts and thanks to Jerry Lee Lewis really pissing off all the good decent religious folks who were firmly convinced Jerry Lee was a devil himself.