(Mississippi Jook Band)










Blind Roosevelt Graves was a moderately successful Mississippi bluesman and guitarist who mixed secular and sacred material and recorded a few songs during a relatively short career. However he has one significant claim to fame in that he is accorded by many as being the artist to make the earliest rock and roll recording. Very few biographical details of Blind Roosevelt Graves'  early life are known. He was born in Rose Hill near Meridian, Mississippi, probably around the beginning of the 20th century. He and his brother Uaroy began playing juke joints in the Mississippi Delta in the early 1920's, and in 1929 they cut a number of sides, 'rocking and reeling' spirituals, for Paramount, which all appeared under Blind Roosevelt's name. At this time Graves was also playing with pianist Will Ezell.


In 1936 Paramount Records talent scout and Jackson furniture store owner H C Speir, who had been responsible for their 1929 recordings,  located the Graves Brothers performing in a church in McComb, Mississippi, and arranged for them to do a second recording session in Hattiesburg. To play piano in the Hattiesburg session, Speir chose Cooney Vaughn, an influential live performer in Hattiesburg. They called the new combo the MISSISSIPPI JOOK BAND. The combination of Vaughn's uninhibited piano style with the religious feeling and musical versatility of the Graves Brothers resulted in what was described as the beginnings of a new type of music, rock and roll. With Roosevelt Graves singing vocals and playing guitar, brother Uaroy Graves on tambourine and kazoo, and Vaughn on piano they recorded a number of songs, amongst which were the notable, "Barbecue Bust" and "Dangerous Woman" both featuring fully formed rock and roll guitar riffs and a stomping rock and roll beat. The Mississippi Jook Band continued to perform for while during the late 1930's but then broke up. Piano player Cooney Vaughn performed weekly on radio station WCOC in Meridian prior to World War II but the Graves brothers disappeared from the music scene. Roosevelt Graves was said to have moved to Gulfport  where he died in 1960.


    Mississippi Jook Band - Hittin' the Bottle Stomp


Although always a contentious claim, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is regarded by at least some music historians,  as the birthplace of rock and roll.