Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rocket 88

Rocket 88 was arguably the first Rock and Roll song ever performed! In March 1951, Ike Turner and his band, The Kings Of Rhythm, loaded themselves into a couple of cars with their equipment tied to the roof and headed from Clarksdale, Mississippi to Memphis where they had booked time in Sam Phillips Sun Records Studio. Their song was Rocket 88! On their way the speaker of the guitar amplifier was damaged either by falling off the roof or, as Ike claims, by getting wet in the rain that leaked into the trunk. In any case the paper cone of the speaker was damaged. Not having the time to get it repaired or the money to replace it, the band attempted to repair it by shoving wadded newspaper behind the cone. This resulted in a scratchy sound that Sam liked and incorporated into the recording. Jackie Brenston did the vocals with Ike Turner on the piano and Willie Kizart on the scratchy guitar. This hymn to the newly introduced Oldsmobile Rocket 88 was a hit and everything in music changed! Rock and Roll had arrived.

Imagine yourself in front of the radio in 1951 listening to the song:

And if you want to sing along, here are the lyrics!

You woman have heard of jalopies,
You heard the noise they make,
Let me introduce you to my Rocket '88.
Yes it's great, just won't wait,
Everybody likes my Rocket '88.
Baby we'll will ride in style,
Movin' all along.

V-8 motor and this modern design,
Black convertible top and the gals don't mind
Sportin' with me, ridin' all around town for joy.
Blow your horn, Rocket, blow your horn
Step in my Rocket and-don't be late,
We're pullin' out about a half-past-eight.
Goin' on the corner and havin' some fun,
Takin' my Rocket on a long, hot run.
Ooh, goin' out,
Oozin' and cruisin' and havin' fun

Now that you've ridden in my Rocket '88,
I'll be around every night about eight.
You know it's great, don't be late,
Everybody likes my Rocket '88.
Gals will ride in style,
Movin' all along.



  1. Hi Croft. Watching the Rocket 88 clip really got my heart pumping and it wasn’t just the music.

  2. Croft - Thanks for the memories. Oh and I have some Ike and Tina stories - but they are mostly X-rated ;-0

    Ike had a studio in Inglewood, CA called Ballick Studio - you can imagine the stories.

    By the way Muscle Shoals, Alabama has an amazing history there in the South as well.

  3. John: Write a book! I will buy it!