Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I read with great interest your “whatever happened to” column where the topic of the whereabouts of Jesse Lee Turner, who recorded “The Little Space Girl,” is discussed.

Well, I can answer that question because I am Jesse Lee Turner.

I now live in Texas, where I am an evangelist in the ministry.

If I can be of any further assistance please feel free to contact me. I would love to talk over music and the '50s with you.
—Jesse Lee Turner, Galveston, Texas

DEAR JESSE: At last, Mr. Earth Man — confirmation that you resisted the temptation to marry the little space girl and return with her to the home planet.

Thank you very much for writing, it is great to learn of your 2002 status. I do look forward to speaking with you soon.

DEAR JERRY: In your recent column about the first real rock and roll song. I have a candidate for that crown. Appropriately, the title is “Rock and Roll” and it is by the Doles Dickens Quintet (Decca 48110). It is a 1949 release!

I base my nomination on more that just the title. The Quintet is made up of piano, sax, bass, drums and guitar — the foundation for many rock and roll groups that followed.

The music is essentially basic three-chord rock progression, and there is a great sax break between the two stanzas, also basic R&R structure.

The lead singer is answered back by the chorus, as is common with many rock songs. They use a “walking bass,” quite prevalent not only to boogie woogie but early rock and roll as well.

Following a Big Band style intro, “Rock and Roll” quickly gets down to business with all the R&R elements, sounding almost like Bill Haley and the Comets would just a few years later.

—John Arbeeny, Tacoma, Wash.

DEAR JOHN: “Rock and Roll,” by the Doles Dickens Quintet, has been listed in our record guide for many years, but I had never actually heard this tune until you sent me an audio file.

I completely agree that “Rock and Roll” is indeed rock and roll, and — as a summer 1949 issue — it predates Bill Haley's “Rock the Joint” by about three years. It now wears the crown.

As for dee jay Alan Freed naming the music rock and roll, various publications and web sites indicate he first used that term at WJW radio in Cleveland, Ohio. However, he debuted on WJW in July 1951, two full years after the Doles Dickens disc came out.

Regardless of origin of the phrase, “Rock and Roll” now stands as the earliest recording of the genre — at least until we discover another contender for the crown.

DEAR JERRY: While on a business trip to Miami last year, the oldies station played a Doo-Wop song that dealt with “saving all my green stamps for you.”

I asked through their web site about it, and got no reply. There was also no response from the station here in Philadelphia. No web search has found anything close to those lyrics.

Have you ever heard of this song?

—Jay Powell, Philadelphia, Pa.

DEAR JAY: I think so, though the lyrics vary just a bit from what you recall.

A regional hit by the T-Birds, titled “Green Stamps” (Chess 1778), came out in 1961, and it may be the one you heard.

In it, the singer offers “green stamps, baby, with every kiss,” then follows with “treat me REAL nice, I'll give my book [of stamps] to you.”

IZ ZAT SO? Bass player Doles Dickens didn't just arrive on the scene in 1949. He began recording nine years earlier with the Eddie South Orchestra. In 1943 he signed on with the Five Red Caps.

He recorded “Rock and Roll” in New York, June 23, 1949.

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