Of Course, all of the solo R&B singers had bands behind them. Some were definite groups of individuals. The R&B combos had a huge impact on the development of the British Beat scene of the 1960s. I do make a disction between these R&B and other Doo-Wop bands.
Black 50s R&B was not heard in the UK. All these fabulous singers were unknown in Britain. Merchant seamen brought singles and albums back into the ports. They were like gold dust. All the local bands in the early sixties were eager to get their hands on these songs so that they could incorporate them into their act. We see these songs surfacing on all the early albums of bands such as the Beatles and Stones.
I was only a kid when Merseybeat started up in 1962/3. Most of the stuff on record was highly sanitised Pop stuff but occasional stuff sneaked through showing what a good, hard rocking club scene it was based on early R&B and Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The highlights for me were (apart from the Beatles) the Big Three EP, the Merseybeats EP, the two volumes of This Is Merseybeat on Oriole and occasional singles – like the Mojos Everything’s Alright.
My top bands would be:
Rory Storm & the Hurricanes
Gerry & the Pacemakers (surprisingly very powerful live)
The man who invented the long guitar lead so he could roam about and produce his guitar histrionics. He was the ultimate showman and way ahead of his time!! In the 1950s he was a real pioneer. Just listen to that ‘Space Guitar’ from 1954 – the reverb, echo and effects.
After a foray into the sixties underground I thought it would be nice to have a bit of good-time music from the fifties. The Coasters, with their array of Leiber and Stoller songs were always a favourite of mine.
They were much covered by the sixties Beat Groups, including the Beatles.
They were a black US R&B outfit, not quite Doo-Wop, but in the same general area. Some of their songs were humorous but some weren’t. I think they’re great.
So today I’m filling the house with 50’s R&B and the sound of the Coasters.
It all started for me with that fabulous ‘Green Onions’, recorded in 1962. An R&B classic.
It knocked me out when I heard it. They were a fabulously tight band and certainly made a statement back in the early sixties both as the Stax house band behind all those brilliant Soul acts and the fact that they were a multicultural band. I just loved Steve Cropper’s guitar sound.
When I was in Memphis I visited Stax Studios. Awesome.