by Brian Poole
It came from three directions for us –
The two definitions of the ‘beat generation’ have been argued about for years. Thus:- ‘a swinging group of new American men intent on joy’. Jack Kerouac – 1959 and partisan review’s Norman Podhoretz who defined ‘beats’ as ‘young men who can’t think straight and so hate anyone that can’. The word or term ‘beats’ was later transformed to ‘beatniks’ by bearded, weirdo and San Francisco writer Herb Caen in 1958. So along with Alan Ginsberg (poet) many terms were invented for this new generation of American people. In actual fact though these ‘beatniks’ or ‘beats’ were a reincarnation of the ‘hipsters’ of the World War II era who excelled at ‘Jive Talking’ and ‘flashy eccentric dressing’ with two distinctive groups. the ‘hot hipsters’ and the ’cool hipsters’ with Kerouac and Ginsburg in the former group. (hot).
The fact that white people in America in the late 40’s and early 50’s saw the black music scene as vital and uninhibited, made them want to copy the ‘slang’ and style in order to nullify their inherent conformity. The music of Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, Louis Jordan, Nellie Lutcher, Mose Allison etc. was popular but received little or no ‘airtime’, until the early 50’s when after much ‘covering’ by accepted artistes, a slightly sanitised version of the mixture of ‘blues and jump’ and ‘be bop jive’ was starting to be heard in America. Such songs as “Five Guys Named Mo”, “I Like ‘em Fat Like That” and “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” (Louis Jordan). ‘Fine Brown Frame’, ‘C’mom and get it honey’ (Banned from Radio) and ‘C’mon A My House’, ‘Hurry On Down’ (Nellie Lutcher) were popular. Also the first Joe Turner version of ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ with all it’s sexual innuendo still included at the time was showing the way. It was still too naughty for radio but this music was bubbling under and about to become the greatest cultural innovation of all time including the present day.
If you’ve never heard a Louis Jordan recording, you have certainly heard his style. Jordan influenced a wide range of performers, most notably Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, and Bill Haley. Among many others who have played his music are Woody Herman, Muddy Waters, B. B. King, and Eric Clapton. Jordan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, 1987, 12 years after he died.
Well that’s half of the American story. Next time in Part 2 it’s the ‘other side’. Western Swing and Hard edged Country Music – Gene Autry etc. to Bill Haley – to Alan Freed and The Platters. Plus a shot of rhythm and blues with a little rock ‘n’ roll on the side and a dash of trad jazz and gospel makes the ‘music’ popular ‘pop’ in Europe.
And then in Part 3 how it started for us, an inside look from 1956 to 1960 from the eyes of three 16 year old, totally immersed and indoctrinated London lads, who’s musical knowledge came in part from the record collections of their older brothers and dads and whose workmates in the London studios were people like Alexis Korner, Jim Sullivan, Jimmy Page, Reg Guest, Cyril Davis, Norman Petty, The Most Brothers, Jack Good, Jimmy Saville, Don Lusher, Jim Marshall, Arthur Greenslade, Charles Blackwell, Jet Harris, Tony Meehan, and that was before we had any hit records as the Tremilos or Brian Poole and the Tremeloes. Alan Blakley is not with us anymore and sadly missed, but Dave Munden and me are still here to remember this story. Also a few short anecdotes from the early Brian Poole and the Tremeloes with Ricky and Dave.