Louis Jordan

Rock & Roll Hall of Famer

Category: Early Influence

Inducted in: 1987

Inducted by: Seymour Stein

Inducted into Rock Hall Revisited in 1988 (ranked #2 in the Influences - Pre-Rock Era category) .

Essential Songs (?)WikipediaAmazon MP3YouTube
Caldonia (1945)
Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens (1946)
Let the Good Times Roll (1946)
Choo Choo Ch'Boogie (1949)
Saturday Night Fish Fry (1949)

Louis Jordan @ Wikipedia

Louis Jordan Videos


7 comments so far (post your own)

Not only is Louis Jordan a highly qualified early influence on rock 'n' roll, he's also a early (make that very early) influence on rap. Listen to songs like Beware, Ain't That Just Like a Woman, and Beans and Cornbread, and you'll notice that Jordan's alliterative vocal delivery is very much a forerunner of rap.

I just acquired an outstanding 2-disc retrospective entitled Let the Good Times Roll: The Anthology, 1938-1953. It's the perfect introduction to Jordan's music and contains all his essentials. His duet with Louis Armstrong, Life Is So Peculiar, is well done. Their vocal styles suit each other perfectly.

Posted by Zach on Saturday, 10.6.12 @ 17:38pm

Louis Jordan was the the chief builder of of the R&B idiom. The pioneering usage of his shuffle rhythms crossed over into rock and roll as people like Bill Haley and Chuck Berry were influenced by Jordan. His hit making run with Decca Records contained some memorable performances with his band, The Tympany Five with Louis playing his alto sax and the street corner sense of humor. Also, Louis was the frist black performer to sell records to the pop section and some of his duet mates were Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald. After he died in 1975, his fame cotinued to grow thanks to a Broadway musical called Five Guys Named Moe. Louis is a great singer and his bubbly style still lives on today.

Posted by Andrew on Tuesday, 10.16.12 @ 14:38pm

You're speaking my language, Andrew! I wish you posted here more often because you also share a deep appreciation for the roots of rock 'n roll and respect the originators.

Did you know that the opening guitar riff by Carl Hogan (another idol of Chuck Berry's) in Ain't That Just Like A Woman was later adapted by Chuck Berry for Johnny B. Goode? Call it plagiarism or homage, but Jordan and Hogan both made enough of an impact on Berry that they influenced his guitar playing and songwriting abilities. Just as Berry subtly attacked racism in Brown Eyed Handsome Man, Jordan did likewise with Saturday Night Fish Fry and Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens.

I think that a lot of people take Jordan for granted. I know he's already been inducted into the RRHOF as an Early Influence, and that already inducted acts don't gain as much discussion as uninducted acts here, but Jordan's importance to the development of rock 'n roll cannot be overstated. Even today, you can hear the influence of Jordan's vocals in rappers.

Posted by Zach on Sunday, 12.16.12 @ 00:42am

Thanks, Zach! I never knew that the opening guitar riff on "Ain't That Just Like A Woman" was used for "Johnny B. Goode". I'm continuing to learn more and more about the background of rock and roll and as you said, I do have a deep appreciation for singers like Robert Johnson and Hank Williams who helped make rock and roll!

Posted by Andrew on Saturday, 01.26.13 @ 21:51pm

Here's a red-hot performance from Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five in the 1946 film Swing Parade of 1946, which also features The Three Stooges! The song is Caldonia:


Posted by Zach on Wednesday, 05.15.13 @ 23:07pm

A highly popular and influential saxophonist, Louis Jordan was one of the chief builders of the R&B idiom. People haven't called him "the Father of R&B" or "the Father of Rock N' Roll" for nothing. In the 40s, Jordan was a wild bandleader who pioneered a mix of jazz and blues.

The swinging rhythms played by Jordan and His Tympany Five was called "jump blues" and it served as a prequel to R&B and rock n' roll. In fact, it could be argued that "Saturday Night Fish Fry," is the first rock and roll song because it contains many of the key ingredients of rock n' roll like a distorted electric guitar, party themed lyrics and up-tempo music.

Similarly, the songs "Saturday Night Fish Fry" and "Look Out" with their manic spoken delivery are early examples of rapping. Also, Jordan was the first black performer to sell records to the pop section and some of his duet mates were Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald.

Despite his passing, Louis Jordan's influence on rock n' roll and rap is still going strong as people like Little Richard and Chuck Berry have followed his musical footsteps.

Lastly, people who think The Sugarhill Gang invented rap should listen to Louis Jordan.

Posted by Andrew on Saturday, 07.27.13 @ 22:49pm

As always, Andrew, your comments on the originators of rock 'n roll are perceptive, informative, and all-around enjoyable to read.

Another fine example of Louis Jordan's proto-rap vocals can be found in his song Beware (Sometimes listed as "Beware, Brother, Beware"). He and his band perform this tune in the 1946 film, Beware. Jordan starred in a few all-black cast films made during the 1940s, including the aforementioned Beware, Reet, Petite, and Gone (1947), and Look-Out Sister (also 1947). These films were typically short on plot and long on musical interludes, but the historical value and the opportunity to see the Father of Rock 'N Roll (IMHO) perform are reason enough to seek out these underappreciated gems.

As if being a pioneer of rhythm & blues, rap, rock 'n roll, and jump blues were not enough, Louis Jordan was also a frequent fixture in soundies, the 1940s forerunners of music videos. Soundies were typically three-minute films featuring performances from the top singers and bands of the era and were distributed in nightclubs, restaurants, bars, and other venues on Panorams, which were film juxeboxes. Some of the soundies in which Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five appear include Five Guys Named Moe (1943), Caldonia (1945), Fuzzy Wuzzy (1946), and If You Can't Smile and Say Yes (also 1946).

Posted by Zach on Sunday, 07.28.13 @ 23:56pm

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