Obit: Cosimo Matassa

Is this the first rock ‘n’ roll song?

That was 1947. Some say it was this Fats Domino tune from 1950.

I always thought this Joe Turner tune was the one, but obviously this was a process.

The unifying thing here, however, is that all three tunes were recorded in Cosimo Matassa’s studio in New Orleans, with Matassa engineering.

Jerry Lee Lewis cut his first demos in that studio. Frankie Ford’s iconic New Orleans tune Sea Cruise was recorded there. Little Richard’s hits? Matassa recorded them.

You can read all about his rockin’ life in this New York Times obituary.

2 thoughts on “Obit: Cosimo Matassa

  1. There is a video quote from Fats Domino in 1955 where he says “What they call rock and roll I’ve been playing in New Orleans for 15 years.” My father, who loved jazz and despised rock and roll, said he heard it “from bands playing 4th on the bill at the Apollo in 1941.” And I’ve never known where the line is between blues and rocknroll. But thanks for posting this, Peter, Cosimo Matassa was just a name to me.

  2. The idea that there was a line is pretty silly, but based on the above I would say Roy Brown’s vocals don’t rock, they have a restraint, a formalism, that sings rather than swings, though the music does. They land in the middle, the missing link (though obviously not missing), while all of Fats rocks and rolls. Pretty cool that all these great early songs came out of the same studio.

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