Rock & Roll in Mississippi

Although Mississippi is known for its Blues, the state spawned many firsts in the genre of Rock ‘n Roll according to John Sumrall who has become an authority on the music of Mississippi Johnny-Valentine_Felsted-Record-2 His book “Classic Magnolia Rock—History of Original Mississippi Rock and Roll 1952-1970” contains a wealth of information on this era so beloved by Baby Boomers everywhere. Sunrall notes that the first rock and roll record to be released world-wide was a song by the original Rolling Stones from Mississippi which we reported several months ago.. The group was formed at Mississippi State College (later named Mississippi State University) in the mid-1950’s and consisted of Andy Anderson, William “Cuz” Covington, Joe Tubb, Bobby Lyon and Roy Estes. book In the summer of 1957 the Rolling Stones entered the Mid-South Talent Contest in Memphis, TN. The prize was a recording contract with London Records who wanted to branch out into rock and roll music after being well known for their classical recordings. The Rolling Stones won the contest and went to Bradley Recording Studio in Nashville to record “Johnny Valentine.”  When they arrived, the band members were told they couldn’t be on the record because they weren’t members of the musicians’ union; instead, studio musicians were used to back Andy Anderson, lead singer. Other people on the record in were Hank “Sugarfoot” Garland, lead guitar; Bobby Moore, bass; Buddy Holland, drums; and back-up singers, The Jordanaires. The record was released world-wide on the Felsted label and was a big hit.  The band members were upset that they did not get to play on the record and severed all ties with London Records. They did not copyright the name “Rolling Stones” – London Records kept the name, discovered Mick Jagger, and the rest is history. The group later became known as the DawnBreakers and my classmates pointed out they played for several dances in West Point when the Deluded Diva and her cohorts were coming of age.  (We were on our way, coming of age, but were distracted and never finished the process apparently.) music At left, Dick Clark, Cliff Barbara and Ed Thomas Photo Courtesy of Johnny Sumrall who provided the information. Johnny produced and hosted a live radio program “Original Mississippi Rock and Roll Music” during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s which featured many of the artists in interviews as well as performing their music. He has written articles for VIP Magazine and contributed to the book All Shook Up – Mississippi Roots of American Popular Music by Christina Wilson. Johnny Sumrall is a native of Jackson, MS and is a graduate of Provine High School and Belhaven College. His love of music crosses all genres, but is focused on Rock and Roll.his book,”Classic Magnolia Rock—History of Original Mississippi Rock and Roll 1952-1970,” is a unique and wholly authentic account of those heady times. While researching his book, Johnny secured personal interviews with almost all the local artists who were making their mark on the music world at that time and place, and the stories are told from their perspective. This book is a compilation of his memories as a teenager during the era as well as information from interviews with the artists. Many of the artists are good friends with whom Johnny stays in contact. Johnny produced and hosted a live radio program “Original Mississippi Rock and Roll Music” during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s which featured many of the artists in interviews as well as performing their music. He has written articles for VIP Magazine and contributed to the book All Shook Up – Mississippi Roots of American Popular Music by Christina Wilson.. You may contact him at jsum0740@att.net.

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