[Ads-l] Antedating of "Rock 'n' Roll" (Modern Sense)

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Thu May 7 20:43:35 UTC 2020

Ben's points are all correct.  I had forgotten about the Billboard cite from 4 Dec. 1954, which I believe I contributed to the OED.

I don't know why the earliest attributive cites aren't part of the quotations for OED sense 2 of "rock 'n' roll."  Sense 2 is hard to disentangle from sense 1, but anything with "Alan Freed" in it should be sense 2.

The OED inevitably has sense-divisions for some entries that are not clearcut.  As a result, important coinages can be obscured or omitted altogether.

Fred Shapiro

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Thursday, May 7, 2020 4:19 PM
Subject: Re: Antedating of "Rock 'n' Roll" (Modern Sense)

This is a very cool find, but I think it would belong in the C1 section of
the OED3 entry, "general attributive." There are other cites there showing
that the transition from the older swing/R&B sense of "rock 'n' roll" to
the Alan Freed-related style was taking hold by 1954.

1938   N.Y. Times 5 June e10/2 (caption) 'Rock-and-Roll' men. Band leaders
Benny Goodman (left) and Gene Krupa--Their likes are not to be heard abroad.
1945   Billboard 10 Mar. 66/2   It's rock and roll rhythm all the way, with
some race blues wordage added by the maestro.
1952   A. O'Day (title on record label)    Rock 'n roll blues.
1953   Los Angeles Sentinel 20 Aug. 2 b/1   Two new sides featuring the
exciting 'rock 'n' roll' rhythms of the Joe Houston band on the Combo
label, 'Drunk' and 'Lightnin'', both composed by the fast rising young
bandleader himself, have been released this week.
1954   Variety 13 Jan. (Entertainm. Industry Mag. Archive) 67/4   Savage
opens up with a hot rock 'n' roll piece which for a second only he holds
with his thin pipes.
1954   Billboard 4 Dec. 22/2   Freed is now calling his program the ‘Rock
and Roll Show’.

Note that the cite from Billboard about Freed's "Rock and Roll Show" has
the same date as the Newsday cite.

On Thu, May 7, 2020 at 9:46 AM Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrote:

> rock 'n' roll (OED, 2., 1955)
> 1954 _Newsday_ 4 Dec. 19 (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)  Doesn't WINS'
> rock 'n roll Jazz-jockey, Alan Freed, ever run out of breath?

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