Page 86 - Cityview May-June 2017
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84 MAY  JUNE 2017
reserved for blacks. To us, the music was colorblind. True fans of early rock had little time for racial prejudice. LaVern Baker sang “Tweedle Dee” and The Bobettes sang their big hit “Mr. Lee.” When the star of the show, Little Richard, came on, we were so excited it was hard to contain ourselves.
He struck a chord on the piano and screamed, “Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom!” and that was it. Somebody on the crowded stage reached across the upright piano and hit Little Richard right in the eye. Blood gushed, and that’s all I ever saw of one of my early music idols.
We didn’t know what we were looking for when rock ‘n’ roll rushed into our lives. We’d never known a world with such glorious and moving sounds, and once we had it, we couldn’t live without it. We don’t jitterbug and dance the bop like we once did. We are closer to rocking in chairs than rockin’ on the dance floor, and we are much closer to being “over the hill” than searching for a thrill on “Blueberry Hill.” Our little black books now
only have the names and numbers of doctors, but we are still the generation responsible for sock hops, hot rods, duck-tail haircuts, drive-in movies, drive-in restaurants, panty raids, and the Twist. We carried the music of the greats of rock ‘n’ roll to the top of the charts. Now I look at the top of the rock charts and I don’t recognize the names of the artists. I don’t know these people and I don’t like them. Frankly, I find very little modern music that I do like, but I am well aware of the unseen roots beneath the tree I helped to plant.
Chuck Berry died? I must call
my friend, Judge John Turnbull of Livingston, Tennessee, to console him. I recall that when Ray Charles died, he called for a moment of silence from the bench and adjourned court early. You should think about us old timers and what we did the next time you pass one of us on the interstate driving 50 miles per hour or visit a cardiopulmonary rehab center.
Robert E. Pryor, Sr. is a founding partner at Pryor, Priest, and Harber, a Knoxville law  rm.

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