Shake, Rattle & Roll
Big Joe Turner
"Rock and roll would have never happened without him." -- Doc Pomus
He was six-two and three hundred pounds, hence the monicker "Big" Joe. Known as The Boss Of The Blues, his original nickname had been The Singing Barman in Kansas City. Turner had been performing all his life, singing wherever he worked, working with boogie players like Meade "Lux" Lewis and Albert Ammons.
He was spotted by Ahmet Ertegun of the then-fledgling Atlantic Records in 1951 at the age of 40, while working with Count Basie. He was immediately signed to the label and recorded several hits for the label, blues numbers such as "Chains Of Love" and "Sweet Sixteen".
In 1954 he recorded "Shake, Rattle & Roll" and it was a huge success. The Bill Haley & The Comets version was a bigger success, but their version had cleaned up the risque lyrics considerably. Turner's version includes the lines "get outa that bed, wash yo' face an' hands" and "you're wearin' those dresses, the sun comes shinin' through!, I can't believe my eyes, all that mess belongs to you." However, Haley's success encouraged many listeners to seek out the Turner original.
Turner found himself all of a sudden a bona fide rock star at age 43. He continued recording tracks in a similar style as well as more blues songs, and another massive smash, "Corrine, Corrina" came out in '56.
Through the '60s Turner concentrated on performing with smaller combos, returning to his roots. In 1983 he released an album with Roomful Of Blues entitled Blues Train. The same year, he was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame. He died in 1985 and was inducted posthumously into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.