DEAR JERRY: More times than I can count, your column has inspired discussions around these parts. Now I'd like to reverse the process.
I'm hoping one of our recent topics will motivate your creative juices.
In the years leading up to the worldwide Rock and Roll explosion, there must have been some television appearances by Rock acts. If not some, then at least one.
So the question is who is the first person or group to perform authentic Rock and Roll on TV?
None of my usual reference sources even mention this topic.
Nancy Corrigan, Evansville, Ind.
DEAR NANCY: This reminds me of when we delved deep into the earliest Rock and Roll recordings, and the need to distinguish between unquestionable R&R and other similar styles. Same goes here.
Skipping past the Big Band Boogie-Woogie and Jump Blues artists of the late '40s and early '50s brings us then to mid-1953, and a Rhythm and Blues ensemble whose name many people may not recognize: the Treniers.
Though their concerts often involved eight or nine performers, the core quartet is Cliff and Claude Trenier identical twins along with brothers Milt and Buddy.
The Treniers never made the Pop charts, and managed just one R&B hit: “Go! Go! Go! (Okeh 4-6404), yet their talent level and high energy stage show kept their act in demand for decades.
Which is likely why they appeared on TV, and later in films, sharing the spotlight with famous groups having numerous hit records to their credit. In May 1953, on the TV show “Night Music,” the Treniers gave a sizzling performance of their then new release, “Rockin' Is Our Bizness” (Okeh 4-6960).
With a title that summarizes their calling, the boys made it their bizness to bring the house down with their musical and dancing skills, plus some entertaining comedy antics.
One year later, May 3, 1954, as guests on the Colgate Comedy Hour Starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, the Treniers again sang “Rockin' Is Our Bizness.” By now, this tune became their stage show's signature song.
Until we discover otherwise, it seems the Treniers provided both the first and the second televised Rock and Roll performances.
The Treniers even appeared as themselves in three teen-oriented Rock music films: (1956) “The Girl Can't Help It” (singing “Rockin' Is Our Bizness”); (1956) “Don't Knock the Rock” (singing “Rockin' on Saturday Night”); and (1959) “Juke Box Rhythm” (singing “Willie and the Hand Jive”).
DEAR JERRY: Any fan of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young as a group knows how individually talented each of the four is.
But as a solo act, which members of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young rang up the greater sales?
Judith Evelyn, San Francisco
DEAR JUDITH: Each of these gentlemen carved out splendid careers, sold lots of records, and packed many a concert hall.
None more so, however, than Neil Young.
Neil leads the pack in every category based on record sales, for singles as well as albums.
He is the only one of the four to have a No. 1 song (“Heart of Gold”), and the only one with a No. 1 LP (“Harvest”).
Having 40 nationally charted albums gives Neil more than double the combined solo total by the other three members (18).