There has been an eternal battle for many years as to whether St Louis is the birthplace of RnB, with folk pitting St Louis against Memphis. Most of the evidence is in favour of Memphis but there’s little doubt that local communities including East St. Louis helped to create the Blues offshoots of Boogie-Woogie and Rhythm & Blues.
With most doors of society still closed to them, a lot of very talented African Americans turned to making music for a living.
St Louis was the wealthiest city on the Mississippi River also known by those in the know as the musical conveyor belt. As such, it employed a huge number of Black Jazz, Blues, Boogie Woogie and other musicians in nightclubs during WWII. The style of music known as Ragtime also became popular in St. Louis around 1900. This evolved into Jazz by 1946, a revolutionary period when some straaile Turner, is actually an R&B record. Sun Records purposely didn’t put Jackie Brenston’s picture on the front cover in order that they could sell it to white record stores. They also managed to convince white radio stations to play it.
When Alan Freed, a white radio DJ in Cleveland, heard that song, he promoted them to his predominantly white audience as “Rock n’ Roll”. Despite being a black slang term for sex Sun Records and similar record labels quickly latched on to Freed’s marketing of term “Rock n’ Roll” term which has continued to this day.
Even popular R&B hits sold under 100,000 copies but with Rock n Roll, the numbers were much more. The little known fact was that this sound. In fact, came from St. Louis nightclubs, makes a very strong case for St Louis, therefore, being the “Birthplace of RnB.”
As the years passed and Rock n’ Roll became more and more popular many people just assumed it was white music. The real history is so much more interesting and diverse.