I am by no means an end-all, be-all repository of rock and roll knowledge. And armchair rock and roll repartee is rampant with claims of firsts…shit like whether or not Jackie Brenson and His Delta Cats “Rocket 88” from 1951 is the first rock and roll song is purely arbitrary. But collected below are some questions that have been bugging me for awhile (and some that I just made up) that I feel can be answered one way or another. Anyone who can solidly prove or disprove any of these questions as fact is strongly encouraged to post the relevant, fact-checked information in the comments section. Also feel welcome to ask your own questions. Hurry. I may just participate in the comments. This just might be fun.
1) Is Bo Diddley the first performer to reference himself by his full name in his own song? Is Bo Diddley the first performer to use his name as the title for a song?
(I know most of the old bluesmen…Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell… refer to themselves in their songs, but I can’t think of a specific example of one using their full name)
2) Is Frank Zappa’s “Freak Out” the first LP packaged in a gatefold sleeve?
(I don’t even own a copy of this record, but I know it came before “Sgt. Pepper’s” which is usually credited with the honor)
3) Is the Beatles “Back in the USSR” the first example of irony in pop music?
(please be thorough and refer to a proper dictionary definition of the word irony. This one will be hard, but I honestly think it’s a pretty important distinction)
4) Is the photo in the gatefold of the Stooges Funhouse LP the first example of ripped jeans in pop music? In popular culture?
(Again, hard to prove, but terribly important)
5) Is the Jarvis Street Revue’s “Mr. Oil Man” the first environmentally-minded LP/song?
(Only other one of remotely the same time period is Marvin’s What’s Goin’ On LP from 1971. JSR is from 1970)
6) Is Ricky Wilson’s four-string guitar the first instance of a guitarist purposefully omitting strings to obtain a specific sound?
(I’m almost certain there’s examples of people doing this just for a recording session…but not so sure that I can name any particulars...can you? But is Wilson the first to do this and stick by it?
7) Is there a band before the Gories whose drummer used no cymbals, no snare drum and no kick drum?
(Uh…if I need be more specific, how about a drummer in a ROCK band)
8) Was Sub Pop’s Singles Club the first 7” subscription club?
9) Is the White Stripes “Lafayette Blues” single the first double B-side 7”?
(I’m lazy still…)
10) Is Whirlwind Heat’s “Do Rabbits Wonder?” the first album to have all the song titles be the names of colors?
(Everyone always says there’s some jazz record that’s already done this, but no one ever seems to be able to name that jazz record)