In 1949 a jump tune called "Rock The Joint" was recorded by two Philadelphia based R & B combos. It was originally recorded by Jimmy Preston & The Prestonians on Philly's own GOTHAM label No G-188-A, and then covered by Chris Powell & The Five Blue Flames for COLUMBIA ("Magic Notes", U.S.A.!) 30175. These recordings were undoubtedbly heard by a fledgling country artist also based in the Philadelphia area named Bill Haley (William John Clifton). Soon enough Haley combined the White C & W sound with the Black R&B feel and the result was something new, different, and certainly exciting : Bill Haley And The Saddlemen. Here is the history of those two R&B combos who started the revolution.
Jimmy Preston & His Prestonians :
Jimmy Preston was born in rural Pennsylvania in August of 1919.In 1949 alto sax man and vocalist Jimmy Preston and his Prestonians had regional hits in the northeast with "Rock The Joint" and others on the GOTHAM label... The band had built a reputation for hard driving sax led jump tunes, and blues ballads which made them a dance club favorite in the Philadelphia area in the late Forties."Do The Bump" etc. Jimmy Preston starts out the year of 1950 with a new lineup of his small combo. The group features Benny Golson (who would in later years become a modern jazz star) on tenor sax, Billy Gaines on piano (replacing Ken King), and Skeets March (replacing Eddie Winters) on drums. In September, Preston moves to the Derby record label based in New York. The next month the band's first release for Derby is out. It features vocals by Preston and Burnetta Evans on the tunes "Oh Babe" (a cover of the pop hit for Louis Prima and Keely Smith on Robin Hood 101, November 8,1950).
Chris Powell & The Five Blue Flames :
During the late nineteen Forties (10/1949), Chris Powell & The Five Blue Flames were a well known jump blues band in the Philadelphia area. They were fortunate enough to be signed to a recording contract with one of the major record labels of the time COLUMBIA. The lineup of the band was Powell-leader and drums; Duke Wells on piano; Eddie Lambert on guitar; Danny Turner and Red Spencer on saxes; and James Johnson on bass. Powell and his band do an extended tour of the Midwest and Pennsylvania and do a two week engagement at Philadelphia's Showboat Lounge. A trumpet player joins the Blue Flames. His name is Clifford Brown and he remains with the combo for a little over a year. Powell and his combo spend the summer on the bandstand at Wildwood-by-the-Sea at Hofbrau Hotel on the South New Jersey shore. In March of 1953, Powell and his band do another two weeks at The Showboat, to be followed by an extended stay at Bill & Lou. In May, the combo does a week at New York's Café Society which is followed by a long engagement at Moore's Inlet Café in Wildwood-by-the-Sea, along with the Three Peppers. In March of 1956 Powell and his combo record "The Poor People Of Paris" (a French song of origin by Edith Piaf as "La Goualante (popular lament) Du Pauvre Jean" on French Columbia Magic Notes HF 599 in February 1954).
By this time it was apparent that the Blue Flames time as a top musical attraction was about over. They had been part of the Philadelphia musical scene for close to a decade, and although they never had a solid hit record, they were a vital part of the ever changing music scene in America. They certainly had an effect on a struggling country artist named Bill Haley (and The Saddlemen) who covered "Rock The Joint" (on ESSEX RECORDS 303-B, circa July of 1952 [rec. in April of 1952] plus Essex RECORDS 399 for a reissue out in November of 1954 and also reissued on 1955/07/9) which sent him on his way to spread the news of the arrival of rock'n'roll as the sound of the times. There is an available US CD that chronicles a great part of Powell and his music. It is on Classics, a French label. Chris Powell & The Five Blue Flames were part of the great fabric of the musical history of America.
Birth of the boogie (s) B. Haley, Billy Williamson, Johnny Grande (1955/02/21) played by BILL HALEY / Vocal chorus by B. Haley and Ensemble (DECCA/OMEGA 9.61 009). Mambo Rock (s) Bix Reichner, Mildred Phillips, Jimmy Ayre played by BILL Haley, vocal chorus by B. Haley and Ensemble (B-side). The paper boy (On Main street U.S.A.), vocal by B. Haley as (by) Bill Haley And His Comets.
All are original Belgian singles issued in the same time than in America.