November – Jackie Brenston – The First Rock and Roll Record in 1951? [ Back to Gallery ]
Now a lot of people will not know who Jackie Brenston is, but Jackie Brenston is quite an icon when it comes to rock and roll history. His song “Rocket 88” released in early March 1951 by “Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats” is attributed by many including Sam Phillips (Sun Records) as being the first rock and roll record to ever to be released! Many agree with Phillips, however who really did the first rock and roll record will always be a subject of debate, but for those involved in the record business in the very early 50’s, Jackie seems to be the odds on favorite. Also don’t you love the back-up band’s name “Delta Cats”? What is interesting about “Rocket 88” is the song writing credit when released went to Jackie, while in actuality Ike Turner wrote the song - yes, the same Turner who would become famous with his singer and eventual wife and then ex-wife Tina Turner.

Jackie got his start by learning to play the saxophone and in 1950 joined Ike Turner and his Rhythm Kings (again a great name for the back-up band). B.B. King hearing the song Rocket 88, recommended it to Sam Phillips for his studio in Memphis, but Phillips while recording the song, turned it down, but passed it along to Chess Records in Chicago where they released it and rapidly reached Number 1 on the Rhythm and Blues Charts (there were no rock and roll charts at the time) and stayed there for a month.

Unfortunately, Jackie’s fame did not last long as he had parted company with Ike who was not happy at all with Jackie receiving credit for the song. Jackie played for a short time on his own with his Delta Cats, who became the Rocket 88 Band, but eventually did not find a lot of success on his own. He then joined Lowell Fulsom’s band (Ray Charles played with Lowell Fulsom) and then returned back to Ike Turner’s band in 1955. Ike still carrying a grudge on the release of Rocket 88 under Jackie’s name prohibited Jackie from playing the song “Rocket 88” while with his band. As with many musicians, drugs and/or alcohol took its toll and by the early 60’s Jackie had become an alcoholic and died of a heart attack at the early age of 49. My guess is if Jackie had been around in the latter 60’s Bill Graham would have added him to the artist line-up and shows he was producing at the Fillmore and Jackie would have renewed his fame once again.

I have only run into two Jackie Brenston concert posters in all my years of collecting and this is certainly the best and likely the only one in existence. A more than IMPORTANT piece of Rock and Roll history and an absolutely beautiful early 50’s Vintage Concert Poster signifying the beginnings of Rock and Roll!
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