intRoduction. Union Man Blues
1. See Jay Ruby, “Creedence Clearwater Revival,” in International Musician, June
2. The ﬁrst time the International Musician published the words rock ’n’ roll was in
1968. See Nat Hentoﬀ, “The Pop Explosion,” International Musician, April 1968.
3. The story of the afM and the Beatles is covered in more detail in chapter 4.
4. Berry’s ﬁrst union gig was at the Crank Club in St. Louis in the early 1950s. Berry
writes in his autobiography that he made twice as much money working union gigs
than he did playing non-union establishments. See Berry, The Autobiography (New
York: Harmony Books), 91–92.
5. In the mid-1940s, the music that we know today as rock ’n’ roll was still referred
to by musicians who played it—including Louis Jordan—as jump blues. In 1949, it be-
came known as “rhythm and blues.” And of course there were other important influ-
ences on the formation of rock ’n’ roll besides jump blues. Country music, bluegrass,
popular swooners like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, the blues, and swing jazz all
played an important role in the development of rock ’n’ roll. I discuss all these influ-
ences in later chapters.
6. The ﬁrst rock ’n’ roll record to appear on the Billboard charts was “Crazy Man,
Crazy,” by Bill Haley and His Comets. I make the case that rock ’n’ roll is the music of
the American working class rather than exclusively an expression of American “youth”
culture as many critics, including Frith (Sound Eﬀects) have argued. Certainly youth
culture shaped rock ’n’ roll in important ways, but the roots of rock ’n’ roll music run
much deeper than “youth” culture. My interpretation of rock ’n’ roll as a working-class
phenomenon will be clear in the chapters that follow. Simon Frith, Sound Eﬀects: Youth,
Leisure, and the Politics of Rock-and-Roll (New York: Pantheon Books, 1981).