Next Episode of Rock 'n' Roll America: Sweet Little Sixteen is
Part of the BBC's My Generation season of programming, "Rock 'n' Roll America" examines the most important era in the history of popular music - the birth of rock ‘n' roll. These programmes explore the roots of rock music in the USA, its subsequent explosion around the world and how the first wave of rock stars opened the door for modern pop.
Episode one focuses on the origins of the sound in 1950s America. It was a rhythm-driven mix of blues, boogie woogie and vocal harmony championed by young music pioneers such as Fats Domino and Little Richard, which was nurtured by small independent record labels and, pre-Civil Rights Act, drew young white and black kids together.
Episode two picks up the rock ‘n' roll story with its surge across the country and its move into mainstream culture. This was thanks to seminal TV appearances from the likes of Elvis, who made his small-screen debut with a rendition of Heartbreak Hotel before his notoriously sexualised performance of Hound Dog that caused shockwaves across conservative America. This led to the emergence of a second generation of young, white rock ‘n' rollers including The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent, who drove the sound forward.
This episode includes an interview with the late Ben E King, filmed at the Electric Lady Studios in New York in February a few months before his death in April at the age of 76. In this, one of his final TV interviews, the legendary singer talks about the recording and impact of the song There Goes My Baby, which he co-wrote in 1959 for the revamped line-up of The Drifters. The track was the first hit for the new-look band with King as their lead singer.
Other exclusive interviews featured in the programme include Jerry Lee Lewis, Chubby Checker, The Ronettes' Ronnie Spector, Barrett Strong, Eric Burdon and Pat Boone.
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