It all started in Clarksdale, Mississippi. In a room at the Riverside Hotel, a local high-schooler named Ike Turner rehearsed his band for an upcoming session. The band, soon-to-be the Kings of Rhythm, was set to record at Sun Studios in Memphis. But when they got in the car, they realized they had no songs of their own. So they began to write one right there—an ode to the Oldsmobile. Rocket 88.
It’s fitting that if it weren’t for an automobile itself the song wouldn’t have been so revolutionary. You see, sometime on the band’s 75-mile drive up Highway 61 to Memphis, a guitar amp in the trunk of the car got damaged. That happy accident caused a distortion never-before-heard. A fuzzy sound that set the stage for a new movement in rhythm and blues—
what would soon be known as rock n’ roll.
Here it is. Ike Turner along with Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, from 1951, the song historians call the very first rock n’ roll record…Rocket 88.