A friend asked today, “what was the first rock and roll song?” What an awesome question, and almost impossible to answer. There is no first song, because Rock evolved from elements of blues, jazz and swing. The term itself was used in the early 1940’s in some music reviews, describing some gospel and jazz tracks.
In 1941, Alan Freed, a Cleveland DJ, used the term to describe the music he was playing and became synonymous with our interpretation of the genre after that. There are two tracks, both recorded in 1949, that are ascribed as the earliest forms of the genre. Jimmy Preston’s “Rock This Joint,” and Goree Carter’s “Rock Awhile” both contain some of the earliest riffs often associated with rock music. However, it is argued that Preston’s track doesn’t qualify as there are no guitars represented. I feel Goree Carter’s track is closest to what I interpret as true rock and roll music. Here are both tracks.