Did you know?
Most of the successful Rock'n'Roll stars of Australia and the world, came from either poor or medium income families. In USA the most successful all came from poor families.. Elvis, Jerry Lee, Buddy Holly etc..
In Australia, Johnny O'keefe came from a well off Sydney family and Lonnie Lee from well off country sheep property owners.
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There were many trying,
but only a few made it..

The melodious and sweet music of the early and mid 1950's (just prior to Rock'n'Roll) was the seed that was planted in the psyche of the later Rock'n'Roll stars. This was the music that gave them the practice to become singers, to sing with feeling and to use singing as an emotional outlet. The world famous pop singers of that time were Johnnie Ray, Nat King Cole, Frankie Laine, Frank Sinatra, Kay Starr, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Theresa Brewer, amongst many others.They all had their own style and you couldn't mistake one for the other. The big orchestras were also very popular. The early Rock'n'Roll singers brought these styles into the raw basic Rock'n'Roll styles of the blues scenes of the 1930s and 1940s.

As Australian radio started to play a little of the new American Rock'n'Roll it was bound to happen that some young listeners would be mesmerized by it and start creating their own styles or mimic those new sounds that were very quickly getting straight to the teenagers of the day that had been exposed to it.

That is exactly what happened and a few performers emerged in those early times that are still performing today. Artists such as Alan Dale and Lonnie Lee who kicked off with Rock'n'Roll in late 1956, are still very active as performers today. If it wasn't for individual tragic circumstances,
Johnny O'Keefe, Dig Richards and Col Joye, would all probably still be rockin' away as well.

All these artists as well as some others, were at the very start of the Rock'n'Roll industry. It could be argued who was first, second and third etc., in terms of months, yet they all started performing professionally that genre of music although their styles were all different.

It is much agreed however that the first Rock'n'Roll dances were held in suburban town halls in Sydney and featured either Johnny O'Keefe and The Dee Jays or Alan Dale and the House Rockers. Both bands were based on the styles of Bill Haley and The Comets and Tommy Bell and the Bellboys etc., which were sax oriented groups growing out of the big band era. JO'K was the white Australian version of Little Richard, full of emotion and at times off key whilst Alan was the straight big band singer singing rock songs. His style was much more sophisticated and in tune whilst JO'K's was raw, yelling and brash!

On the other hand Col Joye's influence was from country music and his group The Joye boys, a family effort, represented that genre with the new 'back beat' of Rock 'n' Roll. Lonnie Lee and his 3 piece combo was a little mixture of all. His style stemmed from the 50's US country music as well as the likes of all the pre rock superstars such as Johnnie Ray, Frankie Laine, Nat King Cole and of course Elvis as he became known in Australia. His raw Rockabilly combo style saw him become in February 1957, Australia's first ELVIS PRESLEY.


Click on the name or a brief bio of 3 of these artists.....

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