It’s hard to believe that the “King of Rock and Roll,” referred to in his heyday as the “King,” would have been 85, on January 8, 2020. There may be debate as to whom and when Rock & Roll was first pinpointed in time. Make no mistake that the young truck driver from Tupelo, Mississippi, would help bring Rock & Roll to the kids of America. Rock music wouldn’t cease nor be stopped, taking America by storm, spreading to Europe and beyond. There were other artists – Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and many, many more. But that kid from Tupelo was the catalyst for the wheels to start turning. He was born Elvis Aron Presley on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi. He later changed the spelling of his middle name to the biblical form of Aaron. Presley was supposed to be a twin, but his brother, Jesse Garon (sometimes spelled Jessie) was stillborn. Sadly on August 16, 1977 – the “King” died, way too early, leaving a legacy that would go on, long after his death and continues to this day. Rock & Roll was here to stay and growing in popularity, creating a multi-million dollar business.
When I was in school, a favorite thing to do on the weekends was to hook-up with my buddy’s and cruise downtown. With car-radio tuned to WPAY, listening to the latest record hits. Al Mann of WPAY radio station was a DJ known as “The Night Al” – on the air at night and spinning 45 platters for all to sing along to. Then on Saturday afternoons, teenagers could go to the “Sock Hop,” at the New Boston Steel Workers hall. Maybe, Al Mann would be the DJ playing the tunes at the hop for a crowd of eager teens. Rock Roll was here to stay for a long while and by goodness it did. The best was yet to come as young teenagers in the county started forming their own groups.
The Rock & Roll beat had arrived in Scioto County and brought with it the desire to be a Rock star for many a youngster. As a kid I can remember going to Portsmouth High School one winter night, to a Rock & Roll show, with the headliners being the I V Leaguers. They were a local group who started in Portsmouth and what a show they put on for all the screaming teenagers! After the show on my way home that night, I couldn’t get the music out of my head – I was hooked, on that Rock & Roll music. What about those I V Leaguers the group that played the music and brought the beat to many a teenager. It can be said – According to the Doo Wop Blog, “The I V Leaguers were the founding rock-n-roll band from Portsmouth, consisting of students (and graduates) from Portsmouth High School. They were a self-contained band that had the band lineup with the ability to sing group harmony vocals. The I V Leaguers were Tom “Flip” Phillips on drums (class of 1956), Charles “Chub” Bartlett and Bob Destocki on vocals (class of 1957), Harry “Mike” Cranston on bass guitar, Don “Dumbo” Stamper on vocals, and Jim “Monk” Middlecamp on lead guitar (Class of 1958), and lead singer Howard “Bud” Stockham on lead vocals. The group played every possible venue and show in the area during their time together, and is still well remembered in the area. The group recorded two 45s, one for the local Nau-Voo label and one for Porter (rereleased on Dot) records. The Porter/Dot 45 features two doo-wop songs with Bud Stockham on lead. The up-tempo “Ring Chimes” was the A-side and got some airplay and sales. The Nau-Voo 45 has the doo-wop ballad “Told by the Stars” and the guitar instrumental “Jim-Jamin’” which from the title was a feature number for Jim Middlecamp. The Nau-Voo 45 had two pressings, the first one having the title as “Jim-Jam” and the writer credit misspelled as “Mim” for Jim.”
It was just the beginning, the flood gates had opened and there were more groups to be formed, more songs to be played. There were a plethora of talented bands that would emerge from Scioto County and cast their music upon the local rock generation. Some local groups and musicians went on to other venues and share their talent. In the mid-sixties, a group from Liverpool England would forever change music all over the world. As the saying goes, “that’s another story.”
Happy 85th Birthday Elvis and hope you are strumming your guitar and singing to the saints – your memory lives on
Reach Bob Boldman at email@example.com
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