Available Now: “New York Groove: An Overview of the Stars, Shows, and Songs That Rock New York” by Rock Cellar writer/contributor Frank Mastropolo
Where was rock and roll born? DJ Alan Freed coined the term in Cleveland, where the Rock and Roll Museum is located. Sun Records in Memphis, where Elvis Presley made his first records, says rock was born there. Is it Chicago, where the blues was electrified and rhythm and blues flourished? Or Liverpool, where the Beatles launched the British invasion? Rock Cellar contributing writer Frank Mastropolo makes the case for New York City in his new book, New York Groove: An overview of the stars, shows and songs that make New York rock.
Published by Edgar Street Books on August 1, 2022, it’s a crazy journey through the decades, filled with surprising stories of artists, songwriters, DJs and producers who made rock history in the Big Apple.
Mastropolo tells the stories of over 200 stars, venues, concerts, recording studios and songs spanning from the birth of rock in the 1950s to today. The animated story is illustrated with hundreds of performance photos, memorabilia, buttons and album covers.
Here is an excerpt provided by Mastropolo, to preview the book.
New York has been the crucible of rock history since Frankie Lymon, Ben E. King and the Ronettes harmonized on the street corners of Harlem. The city’s five boroughs are home to Simon & Garfunkel, Billy Joel, Lady Gaga, Harry Nilsson and the Ramones. Rock’s biggest stars have come from all over the country to launch their careers in New York.
Michigan’s Bill Haley was a western swing musician known as “The Rambling Yodeler” before changing his tune to rock and roll. Haley recorded “Crazy, Man, Crazy” in 1953 at Coastal Studios in Midtown. “Crazy, Man, Crazy” was the first rock record to hit the Billboard Top 20 chart. A year later, Haley moved to Pythian Temple Studios in Decca to record “Rock Around the Clock”, the first track rock to top the Billboard charts and become the world’s first rock anthem.
In 1954, Elvis Presley was discovered in Memphis by Sam Phillips, director of Sun Records. The King’s first appearance on national television was on January 28, 1956, on Dorsey Bothers. Spectacle at CBS Studio 50 in the Theater District. That year, Presley recorded “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” at RCA’s Webster Hall Studios in the East Village.
Bob Dylan traveled from Hibbing, Minnesota to the mecca of folk music, Greenwich Village, in January 1961. Dylan’s first big gig was in Gerdes Folk City on April 11, 1961. A New York Times rave review of his performance led Dylan to sign a five-year contract with Columbia Records.
The Beatles formed in Liverpool and led the British invasion that swept across America. Their first performance in the United States was on February 9, 1964, when an estimated 73 million people were introduced to the Beatles at the Ed Sullivan Show, broadcast live from the same theater that Elvis made his television debut. .
The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, CBS Studio 50, February 9, 1964
In 1963, Ed Sullivan hosted the most popular variety show on television. Passing through London’s Heathrow Airport on October 31, Sullivan spotted a horde of enthusiastic Beatles fans waiting for the band’s return from Stockholm. “Who the hell are the Beatles?” Sullivan asked those around him. Sullivan then signed the band for three appearances on his show in February 1964. “I decided it was the same kind of mass hit hysteria that had characterized the Elvis Presley era,” Sullivan said. at the New York Times.
“When we first came, we only came to buy LPs,” Lennon recalled in The Beatles Anthology. “I know our manager had plans for the Ed Sullivan shows, but we at least thought we could hear the sounds when we came. It was just out of the dark. That’s the truth, it was so out of the dark, we were knocked out.
With “I Want to Hold Your Hand” topping the charts, Sullivan introduced the Beatles from the stage at CBS Studio 50 as the show opened. The studio, at 1697 Broadway, was renamed the Ed Sullivan Theater in 1967.
“Now, yesterday and today, our theater has been packed with reporters and hundreds of photographers from across the country, and these veterans have agreed with me that this city has never witnessed the excitement of these young from Liverpool who call themselves the Beatles. Now tonight you’re going to be entertained twice by them. Right now, and again in the second half of our show. Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles. Let’s bring them on.
The Beatles opened with “All My Loving” to the cheers of the audience. The crowd quieted down a bit as Paul McCartney followed with the ballad “Till There Was You”. Each of the Beatles had their name superimposed on the screen; Lennon’s headline included “Sorry Girls, He’s Married” under his name. Pandemonium ensued when the first segment ended with “She Loves You”.
The Beatles returned in the second half of the show with “I Saw Her Standing There” and their number one hit, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. Before leaving the stage, the band shook hands with Sullivan and greeted the audience.
“The greatest moment I can remember being inspired to want to be a musician for life was seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show,” singer-songwriter Billy Joel recalled in The Complete Hits Collection: 1973–1997.
“Hollywood tried to take over rock ‘n’ roll…they tried to enhance it, they tried to sanitize it. So they go out with Frankie Avalon and Fabian and Bobby Rydell…and all of a sudden there’s this band with hair like girls…and they’ve been playing their own instruments and they’ve been writing their own songs. And they didn’t look like Fabian, they looked like those working class kids as we all know…and I said at that point, I said, ‘This is what I want to do. I want to do that. I want to be like those guys.
New York Groove: An overview of the stars, shows and songs that rock New York is available at Amazon.