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.
Yessir, those Sigma Chi’s know how to party. (Notice the present tense.)
Thanks for the memory. In 1954 or 55 I sung with a group and Roy Estes played the piano for group. We sung R&R and where a part of 30 4-H members from Mississippi that participated in a Minnesota/Mississippi exchange. We sung and entertained out way across Minnesota. What a fun time we had. I wonder where Roy Estes lives now ?
Chester, “Little Roy” was at party Saturday and I spoke to him – can’t renenber where he lives but thinking he and Andy are both in a Delta somewhere. Al, do you remember “sweating in the band” where you flung your arms at them when you liked the tune??? No one here remembers – maybe it was an ole miss thing,
Remember yesterday when I told you that something about them was familiar.
Now I remember. ( Sometimes takes a while for my brain to work). Doing a little research today to fill in the blanks.
But suffice it to say that the class of ’65 danced the night away to them many years ago.
When I see you this weekend – The rest of the story.
Bet Tinker remembers.
I think that was a girl thing. Most of y’all were into musicians. Ha, ha!
Can’t wait to hear that story Phil. So glad you and Mo are going to come. Al why aren’t you coming? Splain yo self.
I remember dancing to Andy Anderson and the Dawnbreakers. Is that who you’re talking about Phil?
Yes Damron. They later added some musicians and played under that name. You remember them too?
Believe they played the Graduation Dances at the Country Club our Junior and Senior year.
That’s right . They were a great band. Andy Anderson and the Dawnbreakers featuring Lane Cameron. Graduation night. 1965
I remember a bunch of us changed out of slacks into shorts at the break. Looked really nice with a tie and sport coat, no socks and loafers. I also remember jumping off the high dive fully clothed later. I think alcohol was involved. Hell of a dance with a great band.
No joke?! have no memory of that night or the band, and cough medicine was the closest I ever got to alcohol. I do remember I was the only kid in our class who had to be in at 2 – y’all were the dawnbreakers! So we can say we had the Original Rolling Stones play for our proms two years running?
Graduation Dances 64 and 65.
I thought you might be interested in this page an SHS student did for my website several years ago.
See Andy Anderson at mswritersandmusicians.com/musicians/andy-anderson. Don’t know why it didn’t show the first time.
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ROY ESTES UNFORTUNATELY PASSED AWAY ABOUT FOUR YEARS AGO FROM HORNET STINGS THAT HE WAS ALERGIC . ROY HAD BEEN DIRECTOR OF THE STENNIS TEST FACILITY IN BAY ST. LOUIS, MS. BEFORE RETIREING HE WAS MADE DIRECTOR OF THE JOHNSON SPACE FACILITY IN HOUSTON, TX.. AT ROY’S FUNERAL WERE MANNY NASA DIGNATERIES INCLUDEING TWO ASTRONAUTS. AT THE FUNERAL THEY HAD ANDY, JOE & I SIGN A COPY OF” JOHNNY VALENTINE” (OUR HIT SONG” AND PLACED THE RECORD INTO HIS CASKET.. .IT WAS LIL’ JOE, NOT LIL’ ROY…
ANDY LEFT THE STONES IN THE SUMMER OF 1958 TO RETURN TO HIS FAMILY’S PLANTATION IN CLARKSDALE..BUT..HIS FATHER CHANGED HIS MINE ABOUT ANDY RETURNING TO B E A PART OF THE PLANTATION..SO ANDY RETURNED TO JACKSON AND FORMED THE DAWNBREAKERS WHICH BECAME A VERY DEMANDED GROUP WITH MANNY VERY TALENTED MUSICIANS WHICH WOULD BE RECOGNIZED AS STARS THEMSELVES..
LIL’ JOE AND CUZ TOOK OVER THE BAND WHICH DIDN’T MISS A LICK AS WE PERFORMED FOR ANOTHER FOUR YEARS PLAYING FOR MANNY DIFFERENT COLLEGE CAMPUSES (PLAYED TWICE FOR THE MSU M-CLUB IN THE CAFETERIA) AND THROUGHOUT THE SOUTH..THE STONES PERFORMED WITH MANNY BIG NAME RECORDING ARTISTS LIKE JOHNNY HORTON IN HOUMA,LA -HANK THOMPSON (MERL HAGGERD WAS HANKS GUITAR PLAYER AT THAT TIME) -BRENDA LEE-THE JAEGGERS(HEE HAW)-FERLINE HUSKY- HEWEY’ PIANO’ SMITH-TO NAME A FEW. .
TODAY THERE A MANNY ROAD STORIES THAT WE ALL THREE CAN TELL.
THANKS TO EMILY FOR BRINGING THIS STORY TO YOU..
REGARDS TO ALL YOU (SOMEWHAT OLD) ROCK ‘N ROLLERS
“STONES GONNA ROLL”
Hey Cuz. I tried to call you to run all this by you but the number Weatherly had was an old one. Thanks for setting the record straight. I bought the book and enjoyed reading about your antics. Did you know you played at my junior and senior proms as the Dawnbreakers? What a trip. I knew there was something familiar about you! (Not really – I lost my mind several years ago.)
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