Big Jay McNeely

Los Angeles was a major player in the rise of early rock and roll. Cecil J. McNeely (b. LA., April 29, 1927) was raised there by a musical family--two older brothers and both parents were so inclined. In high school, he played with a school band called "The Earls of [the class of] '44" (named for pianist Earl Hines.) Originally a scholarly music student, studying music theory and classic jazz, he happened to attend, in '47, Bardu Ali and Johnny Otis' new club in LA. called the Barrelhouse, a showcase spot for talent in the field of untamed music not yet called rock and roll.

What he saw there changed his ideas about how to please a crowd. The wild music, the rhythm, the frantic crowd screaming over turbocharged bands, with boogie pianists hammering away, trumpeters walking through the crowd blaring one-note rhythms, and sax men and women on their backs twirling in circles without missing a honk. Soon, he found himself honking thusly, and making a career of it. "K & H Boogie," includes a shift of rhythm by the drummer towards the end, from the shuffle rhythm to a back beat which is rock and roll by definition. McNeely continued honking in this manner through the 50's and 60's, took a job for the Post Office in 1971, which he quit in 1983 to get back into the old shtick. In the 90's, he is still playing this ancient rock and roll to the new crowd of kids whose parents were too young to know this type of music. His recent (1989) album with a band called "The Rocket 88's," shows a white-haired Big Jay, still in top form.