It's Cool and Crazy, Man!

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Excellent three-part documentary on the birth and first wave of rock and roll from the mid fifties to the early sixties. Tons of terrific rare footage. Good information and insights from artists who were there.

Note: This title comes on two discs.

In mid-1950s America, out of the Deep South, came a rhythm-driven fusion of blues, boogie woogie doo wop and vocal harmony played by young black pioneers like Fats Domino and Little Richard who excited young white teens and got black and white kids rocking together—in a pre-civil rights era.

The music came from small independent labels. In Memphis, Elvis rocked "That's All Right Mama" and sounded so black he confused his white listeners. And in St Louis, black blues guitarist Chuck Berry took a country song and turned it into his first rock 'n' roll hit, "Maybellene."

By 1956 record sales increased by 300%. With the music now being featured in teen and JD movies, like Blackboard Jungle, PTAs, church groups and local governments were outraged. Rock 'n' roll was banned by the mayor of Jersey City and removed from jukeboxes in Alabama. Elvis was considered lewd and dangerous.

The adult establishment needed a cleaned-up version and the young, Christian singer Pat Boone shot up the charts, competing with Elvis for sales. Still, Jerry Lee Lewis scandalized the nation with his gyrating finger in "Whole Lotta Shakin'" and the Everlys shocked with "Wake Up Little Susie," both 45s being banned in parts of the country. But by the end of 1958 the music was in real trouble. Elvis was in the army, Jerry Lee was blacklisted for marrying his 13-year-old cousin and Little Richard found religion and gave up rock and roll.

BE MY BABY – Part 3
In the years between Buddy Holly's death in February 1959 and the Beatles landing at JFK in February 1964, rock 'n' roll calmed down, went uptown and got spun into teen pop in a number of America's biggest cities. Philadelphia produced 'teen idols' like Fabian who were featured on Bandstand. Young songwriters in New York's Brill Building propelled girl groups to the top of the charts. Rock 'n' roll fuelled the Motown sound in Detroit and the west coast sound in LA. By the early 60s, rock 'n' roll had settled into calm, controlled business. Enter the British Invasion and the longhaired boys from Liverpool, Newcastle and London.

Featuring exclusive interviews with Jerry Lee Lewis, Ben E King, Barrett Strong, Eric Burdon, Don Everly, Tom Jones, Wanda Jackson, DJ Fontana, James Burton, Jerry Allison (The Crickets' drummer), Mike Stoller, Ronnie Spector, PF Sloan, Joe Boyd, Jerry Phillips, Marshall Chess and JM Van Eaton (Jerry Lee Lewis's drummer), Chubby Checker and Pat Boone.

ROCK 'N' ROLL AMERICA documentary on DVD

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