First rock and roll record

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There are many candidates for the title of the first rock and roll record, but it is arguable whether any such thing exists. As with all forms of music, the roots of "rock and roll" are deep and wide. The term was used in nautical language for rocking and rolling at sea as early as the 1600s, and was later used in spirituals. The words "rockin' and rollin' in your arms" were first heard on record, with a spiritual meaning, in 1916. Later, in the late 1930s and 1940s, the term took on sexual meaning. It was not however until the early 1950s that term was used to define a music genre, after disc jockey Alan Freed used it from 1951 as a new name for rhythm and blues, with the hope of bringing the music to a white audience. However it was not until the mid 1950s that cross-fertilization with white country music had taken place, defining the genre.

Billy Vera, Foreword to What Was the First Rock'n'Roll Record, by Jim Dawson and Steve Propes, Faber & Faber 1992


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