Roots of Rock and Roll
Rock and roll is rooted in the blues of Mississippi. The Mississippi Jook Band (brothers Roosevelt and Uaroy Graves and pianist Cooney Vaughan) earned a niche in the annals of rock after they recorded in Hattiesburg in 1936, nearly two decades before rock and roll exploded in the 1950s. The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll noted that their blues recordings “featured fully formed rock and roll guitar riffs and a stomping rock and roll beat.”
Hattiesburg was the site of a historic series of recording sessions by Mississippi blues, gospel, and country performers in July of 1936, including Roosevelt and Uaroy Graves (both as a gospel duo and as part of the Mississippi Jook Band with Cooney Vaughn), the Edgewater Crows, the Gold Star Quartette, Rev. R. H. Taylor, the Laurel Firemen's Quartette, the Steelman Sisters, the Madden Community Band, Sunny Spencer and Boy Pugh, Zeke Bingham and Monroe Chapman, Johnson and Lee, Rajah Evans (Jaybird), Benjamin Scott, and Shep and Cooney. Jackson talent scout H. C. Speir told historian Gayle Dean Wardlow that he and recording director W. R. Calaway of the American and Brunswick record corporations set up a temporary studio upstairs in the Hotel Hattiesburg at Mobile and Pine streets. Most of the recordings, however, were never
Only three 78 rpm blues records from the 1936 sessions were issued: one by the Edgewater Crows and two by the Mississippi Jook Band. “Barbecue Bust” and “Dangerous Woman” were cited on the first page of the chapter "Rock Begins" in the 1980 Rolling Stone Illustrated History by critic Robert Palmer, who wrote that the “rocking and reeling” style of gospel exemplified by the Graves brothers “was beginning to influence secular music” at a time when “rock prototypes were already abundant” in the rural South. Wardlow later suggested that an earlier Graves recording, “Crazy About My Baby” from 1929, “could be considered the first rock 'n' roll recording.” Roosevelt Graves (1909-1962), who was blind, was born in Summerland, near Laurel. He and his brother traveled around Mississippi playing street corners and churches. In the 1930 census listings they were in Tunica; Speir brought
Cooney Vaughn (sometimes spelled Vaughns or Vaughan) also recorded as a member of the duo Shep and Cooney and was reputed by some to be the best pianist in Mississippi during an era when Hattiesburg was known as a hot spot for piano players. Little Brother Montgomery, Gus Perryman, and many others pounded the keys here. Vaughn at one time resided at 515 7th Street, around the corner from the birthplace of his cousin, Blind John Davis, at 707 Whitney Street. (Both sites are just one block northeast of this marker.) Davis became one of Chicago's most prolific blues session pianists and toured Europe regularly.
Erected 2008 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 55.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 31° 20.094′ N, 89° 17.407′ W. Marker is in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in Forrest County. Marker is on Mobile Street north of East Sixth Street, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 601 Mobile Street, Hattiesburg MS 39401, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Eureka School (within shouting distance
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 7, 2018. This page originally submitted on June 7, 2018, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 37 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 7, 2018.