The King of the Jukebox who disturbed the status quo
July 10, 2002 1:08 AM   Subscribe

The King of the Jukebox who disturbed the status quo They called rock music jump blues during the World War II era, and this amazingly talented clown was its master, with over fifty Top 10 R&B hits -- eighteen reached #1 -- between 1942 and 1951. Chuck Berry identified with him "more than any other artist." James Brown said, "He was everything" and considered him one of the earliest rappers. A pioneer of music video, the first black artist to cross over from the "race" market to a white audience and a central link between big bands and rock, he was a primary influence on Bill Haley, Ray Charles and B.B. King, who once said, "I wanted to be like him." Rest in peace, Louis Jordan. [Dozens of one-minute song clips here]
posted by mediareport (11 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
His birthday was Monday. More Library of Congress pics here. Anyone who can't spring for the $200 9-disc set (that'd be me, too) may want to try this, this or this.
posted by mediareport at 1:16 AM on July 10, 2002

If you see it, a wonderful CD to pick up is No. 5 in the Rhino
Blues Masters series: Jump Blues Classics. It's the best one in the box, imho. Although no Jordan is included, it has other famed players of the genre like Red Prysock, Wynonie Harris, "Big Mama" Thornton, oh, man do they wail. It also has my favorite song title, "Why don't you haul off and love me" by Bullmoose Jackson.
posted by planetkyoto at 5:31 AM on July 10, 2002

Sweet! I'll just jump on over to audiogalaxy and find a few samples to figure out what I want to buy! Oh, wait...
posted by warhol at 5:35 AM on July 10, 2002

My introduction to Louis Jordan was his version of "There Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" on a compilation CD, but I've since come across some of his music in several places (including a couple of mediareport's links here). Guess I should go buy some CDs now.

Excellent post, mediareport!
posted by briank at 6:22 AM on July 10, 2002

Louis Jordan was and still is, one on my favorite listens. Its amazing to think about the number of people he's influenced and the number of times his music has been covered (think Gatemouth Brown's cover of "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens"). definitely a national treasure (posthumously).

Thanks for a great post!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:04 AM on July 10, 2002

He was also a pioneer of "music videos" who did jivey short films based on some of his songs (compiled on VHS some years ago, but probably out of print). Here's another cool thing about Jordan: When rock and roll hit, he went back into the studio to re-record some of his signature songs, only re-arranged with a punched-up drum sound and a raunchy, semi-distorted lead guitar. While for some artists, this might have been a recipe for disaster, Jordan makes it work. The re-recorded versions are as exciting, sometimes even more exciting than the originals, recorded ten or fifteen years earlier. (The only other rock artists to pull off a similar feat successfully were Jan and Dean, who did fresh, sometimes superior re-recordings of their 1960s hits sometime in the 1970s.) Great link, mediareport -- although, I'd have to take issue with Jordan being the "first" black artist to cross over. Crossing over is a pretty loose concept, and I think that Noble Sissle, W.C. Handy, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Bill Robinson, etc. might be said to have preceeded him, or "crossed over" around the same time. Just a minor little point.
posted by Faze at 7:41 AM on July 10, 2002

Thanks, mediareport. Another great post.
posted by anildash at 10:36 AM on July 10, 2002

I think the sheer size of Jordan's crossover success is what leads some folks to think of him as first, Faze; no one had blurred the race line in record-buying as much as he did. But "one of the first" works, too. A quick correction to the post: I wrote "over fifty Top 10 R&B hits" when in fact it was over fifty songs that made the R&B charts. Not all were in the Top 10, sorry. But the 18 #1's are accurate -- tied with Stevie Wonder for first place, with James Brown and Aretha Franklin right behind.

We should mention Joe Jackson, too.
posted by mediareport at 10:38 AM on July 10, 2002

How can you argue with a man who asks "What's the use of getting sober, when you just gonna get drunk again?"
posted by tommasz at 2:58 PM on July 10, 2002

I am a really big fan of Louis Jordan, who I consider the first true Rock and Roll performer.

If you're not happy after listening to Louis Jordan belt out "Caldonia", you're already dead...
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:58 PM on July 10, 2002

Huh. Live and learn. I wasn't aware that some LOC pages generate temporary URLs. The "Rest in peace" link above, now broken, was to the 2nd picture here. The enlarged version gives the full effect.
posted by mediareport at 1:06 PM on July 11, 2002

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