Saturday, May 28, 2011

3 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Pianists From The 1950's

In the realm of popular music it is a sad fact since the 1960s the great pianist has faded away. With the advent of the electronic keyboard first in the form of an electronic organ and eventually into the synthesizer, the traditional piano has been left to the balladeer. The piano is now associated with sad, slow songs. However in the 1950s there were some great, powerful pianist that could rock the house with the traditional acoustical sound.
Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis also known as The Killer was born in Ferriday, Louisiana. He grew up playing piano with his cousins Jimmy Swaggart and Mickey Gilley. However, arguably his strongest influence came from a black juke joint that was operating during his formative years. His greatest hits include Great Balls of Fire and A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On. Unfortunately, during his peak productive years a scandal altered his career when he married his 13 year old cousin. It took decades for his reputation to be rehabilitated, but it did recover and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the inaugural year.
Fats Domino
Fats Domino was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and is best known by his nickname rather than his given name of Antoine Dominique Domino, Jr. He is known by a number of hit songs like I'm Walkin' and I'm in Love Again, but Blueberry Hill is his signature tune. He stayed with his first label Imperial Records for over a decade and had all his hits with them. After leaving Imperial his new, larger label tried reconfiguring his style but that did not workout. Adding to Fats' decline in popularity was the change of musical taste that came in the 1960's. Still, his influence spread wide and many of those 1960's artists credit him with impacting their work. Fats is another inaugural year Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.
Little Richard
Many consider Little Richard (Richard Wayne Penniman) one of the main architects of rock and roll, including himself. His style of play can be seen in the performances of many subsequent artists even in the modern era. Born in Macon, Georgia his style could be considered an amalgamation of all the best musical elements of the South including black gospel and the blues. He had a quick succession of hits between 1955 and '57 that included Tutti-Frutti, Long Tall Sally, and Good Golly, Miss Molly. Then he quit performing rock and roll to enroll in Bible college. Like many others of his era, when he returned to performing in the early 1960's musical tastes had changed. Still, Little Richard has been a pervasive representative for the founders of rock and roll. He also was an initial inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The greatness of these artists is that they all had to perform while behind a keyboard and singing into a microphone for each performance. There was no pre-programmed keyboards or recorded tracks. Also, considering that their performing styles were groundbreaking, defining a whole genre, it is amazing that they were able to pull together music, vocals, and performance to make music history.
Imitating all great artists starts with learning the instrument. And for the aspiring pianist it starts with piano lessons.

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