“Lauterbach’s tribute . . . is welcome and overdue.” —Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
For generations, "chitlin' circuit" has meant second tier—brash performers in raucous nightspots far from the big-city limelight. Now, music journalist Preston Lauterbach combines terrific firsthand reportage with deep historical research to offer a groundbreaking account of the birth of rock 'n' roll in black America.
Six years before a white Pennsylvanian named Bill Haley recorded "Rock Around the Clock," Roy Brown, a black singer and song writer from New Orleans, wrote "Good Rockin' Tonight" as a radio jingle for a whorehouse. Haley and Elvis Presley, who recorded Brown's song, are enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while Brown, who died in 1981, remains without the honor. Brown's story is just one stop on music journalist's Lauterbach's rollicking history of forgotten promoters and performers on the loosely organized chain of dance halls, juke joints, and night clubs catering to black audiences it became known as the chitlin' circuit because chitterlings, the intestines of pigs, were a popular delicacy. Lauterbach's writing is as energetic as a Little Richard song (a performer who started on the chitlin' circuit and crossed over to national fame), although he falls victim to his own enthusiasm and loses momentum in an attempt to recount a litany of figures. Regardless, Lauterbach's first book is a rocking read and a deserving tribute to the people and places who were the foundations of rock and roll.