The Defense of Rock ‘n’ Roll


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March 26, 1958, Vol. III, No. 22

Rock ‘N Roll

By Bob Reisner

“In this country it is taboo to express sexuality, and our adolescent population is very inhibited. The music brings some outlet to them. They need this. It is a medium in which they can express themselves.” Thus begins the defense of Rock ‘n Roll by Beverly Ross.

Not too long out of high school herself, Miss Ross is a hot property of the E.B. Marks Publishing Company. She is the composer of many hits. Her latest, “Lollipop,” will net her $20,000 in royalties. The working titles of two of her recent songs show her contemporaneous touch: “Queen of the Study Hall” and “I Want to Be a Scientist.”

She feels the music is not a matter of corruption from within but from without. “You can’t sell the kids anything good, they won’t buy it.” The majority of the big hits are written by the kids and performed by them. The things are so unprofessional and illiterate that publishers are besieged. Everybody thinks he can write now because the standards are so low. The buying public’s age is between 12 and 17, and this is what guides the industry.”

I asked her about the state of the industry’s psyche. She was frank: “Everyone in the business is confused and very disturbed. They ask each other every day: ‘When will it end?’ The good song writers who used to look with condescension on the R-‘n-R writers now ask: ‘How do you do it?'”

Miss Ross states that the small independents were the first. Record companies like Atlantic, Apollo, Rama, and Gee were outselling the majors with R ‘n R, and so the race was on.

Since I described the somnambulistic dancing of the kids on TV, it has come to my attention that there are other routines being done outside the FCC. In addition to “The Bop,” “The Stroll,” “The Hop,” and “The Circle,” there is the intercourse-simulating dance called “The Fish,” and an even bolder one called “The Grind.”

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]