Some More Pre-Elvis Rockers

Some more early rockers. For some, we could find no published information, other than what was
written on the record, so if you have any info, send it this way.

Kenzie Moore cut "Let It Lay" as Specialty #456 in 1952. It's a super-hard rocker, a perfect 10 on the Hoy Hoy scale of hardness.

Piney Brown waxed "How About Rockin' With Me" as Apollo #423 in 1950.

Frank "Fat Man" Humphries grooved "Lulubell Blues" as Jubilee 5035 in 1950.

H-Bomb Ferguson etched "Rock H-Bomb Rock" as Atlas 1001 in 1951

Max (Blues) Bailey recorded "Rockin' The Blues" for the Bullet label in 1949

Big Walter Price

Luke Jones Recorded "Shufflin Boogie" with Joe Alexander's Highlanders in 1947 for Atlas (not the same Atlas label as the H-Bomb Ferguson track).

Albennie Jones chirped "Hole in the Wall" for the Decca label in 1949 which you can hear on youtube. Copy and paste the URL below to a new window. It's one of the best records ever made, just fantastic.

  1. Kenzie Moore, "Let It Lay," 1952 (first minute)
  2. Piney Brown, "How About Rocking With Me," 1950
                (last minute)
  3. Frank "Fat Man" Humphries, "Lulubell Blues," 1950 (first minute)
  4. H-Bomb Ferguson, "Rock H-Bomb Rock," 1951 (first minute)
  5. Max "Blues" Bailey, "Rockin' The Blues," 1949 (selected minute)
  6. Albennie Jones, "Hole In The Wall", 1949. Fantastic! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPSzF_BOq9E

 

 


Frank "Fat Man" Humphries was a hot trumpet player who played in Lucky Millinder's band in the 1940s. He was born in Gracy Kentucky 4/8/13, and also played (and recorded) with Tab Smith's combos in the 1940s. According to John Chilton's "Who's Who In Jazz" he and his brothers were leading a band through the early 1970s.

The following was sent in by reader Yves Francois Smierciak:

"H- Bomb Ferguson was one (along with Piney Brown) of Wynonie Harris' greatest emulators. H-Bomb is still rocking (at least he was in 1993 or so when I saw him at the Chicago blues fest), he recorded a CD for a small blues record company (though that or the 45 rpm EP he recorded in the e-1980's are not the same great 1952 good rockin vibe his old 78's are). He recorded quite a lot in those days. H-Bomb recorded for Derby and Prestige in 1950 or so, Savoy in 1952 (its been reissued on "Shouters"sjl 2244-Good Lovin' is GREAT- and an album of duplicate material + more items came out soon after on Savoy reissue LP around 1985), and in 1953 recorded with Andy Kirk's last Decca session (reissued on a MCA twofer ca 1978 or so), and a session for Specialty records.  I know of one from Federal in 1960 (reissued on Leapin' On Lenox Moonshine blb 114 "Midnight Ramblin' Tonight"). The album liner notes also talk of singles recorded for Finch, Big Bang and ARC ca 1957-8, and Sunset in 1953. H-Bomb is one of R&B's true characters. He dresses (in recent years) like a cross between Sun Ra and Screamin' Jay Hawkins and was noted in the early days to have a very wild act..."

The following was sent in by another reader:

"My name is Jimmy Rogers (not the famous one). I thought you might be
interested to know that Piney Brown is now 78 and living in Dayton Ohio. He
still gigs and has plans to record soon. I speak with him regularly so I'll
tell him about your site."

The following was sent in by a reader in Jan, 2003:

My name is William Lloyd.  Kenzie Moore was my oldest brother, born in Yazoo City, MS, around 1929.  He was the lead singer in the Joe Dyson swing band which was featured regularly at Stevens Rose Room nightclub in Jackson, Mississippi during the early through late 1950's.  To the best of my knowledge, Kenzie's record which features Let it Lay,  and It Aint Nothing But A Dream, were the two most popular cuts.  I also remember a cut entitled Going Home Tomorrow.  Kenzie moved to Los Angeles, CA with his family during the early 1960's where he lived until his death around 1989.

Two internet bios of H-Bomb Ferguson have popped up in recent years:

http://launch.yahoo.com/ar-250843-bio--HBomb-Ferguson

http://home.earthlink.net/~v1tiger/hbomb.html

...and even more recently, H-Bomb's obituary popped up in December 2006:

CINCINNATI - Robert "H-Bomb" Ferguson, a bluesman and pianist who urged listeners to "rock baby rock" at the dawn of the rock 'n' roll era, has died. He was 77. Ferguson, who got his Cold War-era nickname from his booming voice, died Sunday at Hospice of Cincinnati of complications from emphysema and cardiopulmonary disease, said a family friend, the Rev. Julia Keene. "If it wasn't for folks like him, blues wouldn't be what it is today. He was doing it first," said Lance Boyd, guitarist for Ferguson's group, the Medicine Men. Ferguson sang and played piano in a flamboyant style, wearing colorful wigs; he was said to own dozens. "I want the audience to go crazy and enjoy themselves," he told The Washington Post in 1988. "Heck, if they don't, I will anyway." His early works were featured in the recent reissue "H-Bomb Ferguson: Big City Blues, 1951-54." It includes the hit "Good Lovin'" and "Rock H-Bomb Rock," both from 1952. "Rock H-Bomb Rock" also was included last year in the elaborate box set called "Atomic Platters: Cold War Music From the Golden Age of  Homeland Security." According to the Web site of Conelrad, the record label, the lyrics go: "I said rock, rock and rock, rock baby rock. ... Tell me, do you feel that rockin' bomb? Oh yeah, let's rock."

It wasn't until 1955 that rock 'n' roll became a mainstream sensation, when Bill Haley and the Comets' version of "Rock Around the Clock" became a hit. Cincinnati had observed H-Bomb Ferguson Day on Oct. 17, and a documentary directed by John Parker, "Blues Legend: The Life and Times of H-Bomb Ferguson," debuted that day. Ferguson had quit music in the 1970s but resumed performing in the mid-1980s. "He wanted to be remembered as a performer who gave it his all every time," said his wife, Christine Ferguson. "His voice was just so magnetic � a very deep voice with a mix of gravel in it."

A native of Charleston, S.C., the 11th of 12 children, Ferguson said his interest in the blues dated back to his childhood. His father, a Baptist pastor, paid for piano lessons "and wanted me to do religious stuff," he told the Post in 1988. "But after church was over, while the people was all standing outside talking, me and my friends would run back inside and I'd play the blues on the piano." Survivors include his wife and son, Robbie, and three children from a previous marriage.