Jimmy Preston

Alto sax blower Jimmy Preston is another one of the legion of postwar R&B figures that can accurately be cited as a genuine forefather of rock & roll. His chief claim to fame: the blistering 1949 smash "Rock the Joint," which inspired a groundbreaking cover by Bill Haley & the Comets in 1952. "Rock the Joint" wasn't Preston's first trip to the R&B Top Ten. Earlier in 1949, he'd hit with "Hucklebuck Daddy." Both were cut for Ivin Ballen's Philadelphia-based Gotham logo. The scorching sax breaks on "Rock the Joint" weren't Preston's doing, but tenor saxist Danny Turner's. Preston cut rather prolifically for Gotham through much of 1950 (including a session with jazzman Benny Golson on tenor sax) before switching to Derby Records and scoring his last hit, "Oh Babe" (with a vocal by Burnetta Evans). The 1950 date for the New York label was apparently his last. ~ Bill Dahl

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