File this one under “things you didn’t know and were flabbergasted to find out.”
I didn’t believe it myself at first. Did you know that the Original Rolling Stones didn’t come out of Great Britain at all? And they were more likely to be spotted over a cold brew at the Crossroads than a spot of tea in the shadow of Buckingham Palace.
Yes siree, the original Rolling Stones got their start between water fights and fire related pranks in the venerable Old Main dormitory at Mississippi State University in the fall of l954.
True story. The British “invasion” of the music world was still a decade away when MSU freshman Andy Anderson hooked up with Cuz Covington, Little Roy Estes and Joe Tubb. They began strumming and writing music to drown out the non-stop commotion – a constant at Old Main which held bragging rights as the largest college dormitory in the nation. MSU was still called Mississippi State College in those days and Davis Wade stadium was little more than a cow pasture.
This weekend I had a chance to attend the reunion of Mississippi State University football players from 1949 – 1962. What a trip down memory lane for the guys who are now in their 70s, 80s and 90s. I watched grown men salivate as they toured the swank new football complex at MSU.
“Gawlee,” drawled one old timer who played under Coach Slick Morton. “All we had for weights was a pole with two concrete cans at each end.” The guys reminded me of my first trip to New York City when I walked around looking up with mouth wide open. It was too much to fathom.
My main source was Bill (Cuz) Covington who played under Coach Darrell Royal. The Meridian native told me the story of how The Rolling Stones got together and claimed considerable fame. They recorded several hit 45s with Sam Phillips (think Elvis, Cash, and Lewis) at Sun Studios in Memphis. Their first breakout hit was “Johnny Valentine” which rose to the top 30 in the nation in 1958– just behind Pat Boone’s “April Love.”
The name would be stolen a decade later by the “other” Stones who claim they got the name from a Muddy Water’s record spotted on the floor of their recording studio. It was entitled “Rollin’ Stone.” Any way you look at it, Mississippi was at the forefront of the Rock n’ Roll movement which changed the music world forever.
In his book, “Memoirs of the Original Rolling Stone,” Anderson tells about the night they literally “took down the house” at the University of Alabama. The Stones were hired to play for a party at the Sigma Chi House in Tuscaloosa. The finale was their rowdy version of “Snake-Eyed Mama” which always worked the dancers into a frenzy as they jumped and gyrated to the beat of the music.
“I strummed harder and they jumped higher,” Anderson said. “We were on fire as I shouted at the top of my lungs “One More Time.!” With a moan, the house suddenly seemed to shift off its foundation.”
In the next moment he said people were tumbling to the floor and a gaping hole in the roof revealed millions of stars winking down on the crowd. I wonder if the younger version of the “Stones” can top that.
Any way, I thought you’d want to know about this – what with all the inquiring minds around today. I was so impressed that I bought the book and had the three surviving band members autograph a picture taken in the 50s. When I got home, I dialed up some Rock and Roll on my Roku and had a one-woman bebop party. The next day the neighbors seemed miffed they weren’t invited to the party.