WILD BILL MOORE
Born William M. Moore, 13 June 1918, Houston, Texas
Died 8 August 1983, Los Angeles, California Wild Bill Moore was a honking tenor sax player, influenced by Chu Berry and Illinois Jacquet. Originally an alto player, Moore switched to tenor in the early 1940s. He was first noticed in Chicago in 1944, the year he made his first recording with Christine Chatman (Decca). The next year he first recorded under his own name, for Apollo. He relocated to Los Angeles, where he gradually began to build a name for himself, recording with Jack McVea, Big Joe Turner, Helen Humes (Moore blows the solo on "Be-Baba-Leba"), Slim Gaillard, Dexter Gordon, and Wardell Gray. The record company that provided Wild Bill with a national bandstand was Savoy Records, a Newark, New Jersey, operation run by Herman Lubinsky. His second Savoy session (December 18, 1947) produced the wild honking "We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll", with Moore frantically working out with his baritone sax player, Paul Williams. In July 1948, the record spent one week at # 14 on the R&B charts. Like many black "hits", it died quickly. This suggests that disk jockeys initially jumped on the record, but then backed off when either listeners failed to respond or Savoy forgot the next week's payola installment. Most likely, "We're Gonna Rock" failed to excite the market because it was primitively recorded and sounded very much like an old barrelhouse recording. The baritone sax player in Moore's band, Paul Williams, split off, formed his own combo, and had the biggest black hit of 1949, "The Huckle-Buck" (# 1 R&B for 14 weeks). Moore left Savoy in 1948, but the label continued to release the rest of his material in their files. In 1949 he recorded an updated version of "We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll" for Modern Records of Los Angeles and called it simply "Rock and Roll". Moore relocated to Detroit, continuing his search for that elusive next big record. He made a few jazz albums and worked on the sessions of other artists in Detroit, particularly Marvin Gaye's late 60s Motown recordings, including "Mercy Mercy Me". Eventually he returned to Los Angeles and spent the rest of his days there, until his death in August 1983.
(Mainly based on Jim Dawson and Steve Propes, What Was The First Rock 'n' Roll Record?, Boston : Faber & Faber, 1992, page 33-37.)