A wildly energetic and gyrating Elvis Presley took to the stage on The Milton Berle Show in 1956 to sing the now legendary rock hit, “Hound Dog.” The controversial televised performance — set to the swoons and giggles of excited female audience members — won the singer his nickname “Elvis the Pelvis.” The song topped the Billboard charts and remains one of the most-loved tunes in rock ‘n’ roll history — but it actually made its first appearance today in August, back in 1952. Rhythm and blues singer Ellie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton recorded her chart-topping original version in Los Angeles, produced by famed bandleader Johnny Otis (who also played drums).
You don’t have to be an expert to know that rock music evolved from several styles, including blues/rhythm and blues. The term “rock and roll” was early African American slang for sex, and Cleveland record store owner Leo Mintz employed the phrase to get white teens to buy rhythm and blues music without racial prejudice. Early blues recordings have influenced musicians throughout history, and we’ve highlighted several rock songs that borrowed from the genre past the break. Test your knowledge after the jump, and leave us your favorites in the comments below.
Kai Winding and Irma Thomas and “Time Is on My Side”
Jazz trombonist Kai Winding and his orchestra first recorded the Jerry Ragovoy-penned “Time is on My Side” in 1963, but the only refrain he included was the song’s title and “You’ll come runnin’ back.” It featured backup vocals from powerhouse singers Cissy Houston, Dionne Warwick, and Dee Dee Warwick. Soulful Irma Thomas recorded her version of the song in 1964, with the help of songwriter Jimmy Norman, who elaborated on the lyrics. Thomas’ version is the one most people are familiar with since The Rolling Stones covered it. It became their first top ten hit in the US and an enduring classic.