February 14, 2017

Goree C. Carter

   Goree Chester Carter was born in Houston, Texas on December 31, 1930. In late 1948 or early 1949, he and his jump blues band, The Hepcats, were discovered at a gig in the Eldorado Ballroom by a talent scout named Solomon Kahal, who quickly signed the group to his label Freedom Records and recorded their first release, Sweet Ole Woman Blues.

   At the age of 18, he recorded his best known single Rock Awhile in April 1949. It has been cited as a strong contender for the title of "first rock and roll record" and a "much more appropriate candidate" than the more frequently cited Rocket 88 by Ike Turner. However, Rock Awhile was not as commercially successful as later rock & roll records. Carter's electric guitar style was influenced by Aaron "T-Bone" Walker, but was over-driven and had a rougher edge which presaged the sound of rock and roll a few years later. His single-string runs and two-string "blue note" chords anticipated and influenced the pioneers of rock music - the intro to Rock Awhile, for example, closely resembles those in several of Chuck Berry's records from 1955 onwards. 

   Carter recorded for several labels in the early 1950s, including Imperial, Coral and Modern, but last recorded in 1954. After a stint in the army during the Korean War, he returned home and continued to play occasional local gigs in Houston. Sadly, the popular demand for his unique style had slowed over the last few years and his last live performance was in 1970. Goree Carter, the man who beat Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Ike Turner to the feat of inventing rock and roll died on December 27, 1990, at the age of 59 (or 60) and was buried in Houston National Cemetery.

29° 55.761, -095° 27.014

Section J
Houston National Cemetery

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