Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Why are so many bands named Rocket 88?

Rockett 88 (1983)

The Nites Of Spring
The Washington Post | Friday, March 31, 1989
Byline: Eve Zibart
Section: Weekend; Page N19; Nightlife
          ...Jump street/rockaboogie pianist Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88's (all alums of such against-the-tide bands as Commander Cody and David Bromberg) roar into the Roxy Friday on a double bill with Tom Principato.
          And (we know you've all been wondering) this leads Doctor Nightlife to explain why every bar band wearing blues genes wants to call itself Rocket 88 or 88s or '88 (up to and including the Atlantic shore band that spawned George Thorogood and Tommy Conwell), Rockett 88:

          In 1951 Jackie Brenston, one of Ike Turner's Delta Cats (aka the Kings of Rhythm), wrote a hard blues-rock song called "Rocket '88'  and recorded it with the Cats at Sun Studios in Memphis with Sam Phillips at the wheel. Brenston sold the master to the Chess brothers for their Chicago-based, Delta blues-heavy label, and by mid-1951 "Rocket '88'" was a number-one hit -- the first really rock-hard country record. 
          A few months later, a Chester, Pennsylvania, deejay named Bill Haley tried to introduce his swingabilly sound by covering Brenston's hit, but the whiter and lighter version sold only about 10,000 copies.     
          Not until 1952 and "Rock the Joint" did Haley really cut loose. (Brenston and the Delta Cats, incidentally, took off for Chicago and left Turner on his own in Memphis; he kicked around the studio/roadside bar circuit until 1960, when he and Tina, ne'e Annie Mae Bullock, hit with "Fool in Love.")
          Now, as to what a Rocket 88 (without the quote marks and apostrophes) was -- an Oldsmobile with not merely fins but swallowtail flares complete with star studs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Arguably, The 1st rock n Roll Record (by Ike Turner, attributed to Jackie Brenston, Ike's sax player)was a song called Rocket 88. For years, it was our break song so the name just stuck. I registered the name (with 2 T's)as a Delaware business in 1975.