Born James Preston, 18 August 1913, Chester, Pennsylvania
Died December 1984, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Alto sax blower Jimmy Preston is another one of the legion of postwar R&B figures that can accurately be cited as a genuine forefather of rock & roll. His chief claim to fame: the blistering 1949 smash "Rock the Joint" (# 6 R&B), which inspired a groundbreaking cover by Bill Haley & the Comets in 1952. "Rock the Joint" wasn't Preston's first trip to the R&B Top Ten. Earlier in 1949, he'd hit with "Hucklebuck Daddy" (# 4). Both were cut for Ivin Ballen's Philadelphia-based Gotham logo. The scorching sax breaks on "Rock the Joint" weren't Preston's doing, but tenor saxist Danny Turner's. Preston cut rather prolifically for Gotham through much of 1950 (including a session with jazzman Benny Golson on tenor sax) before switching to Derby Records and scoring his last hit, a cover of Louis Prima's "Oh Babe" (with a vocal by Burnetta Evans, # 5 ). The moment for Jimmy Preston soon passed. By 1953 he had given up music for the church. Meanwhile, a Chester homeboy named Bill Haley had recorded a hopped-up country version of his record. The guitar solo on that version of "Rock The Joint" would be repeated note for note on "Rock Around The Clock".

Further reading: Jim Dawson and Steve Propes, What Was the First Rock 'n' Roll Record? (Boston : Faber & Faber, 1992), page 52-54.

Available CD's: Rock The Joint (Collectables, 1991, 14 tracks) 1948-50 (Flyright, 1995, 20 tracks).

These pages were saved from "This Is My Story" for reference usage only. Please note that these pages were not originally published or written by BlackCat Rockabilly Europe. For comments or information please contact Dik de Heer at dik.de.heer@ziggo.nl

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