Sunday, August 08, 2010

Jumpin' George Oxford - KSAN San Francisco 1955

In the early 1970s, Ron Jacobs, one of the original 'Poi Boys' from KPOI Honolulu, produced a series of radio shows for a record series called Cruisin'. He could see radio changing and felt people would want a memento of how it used to be. He brought in a popular DJ from each year going back to 1955 and had them recreate their shows using original music, commercials, call signs and jingles. The fidelity on these albums is modern (as far as it was in the 70's) but the shows are authentic and as we like to say around here are 'period correct'. This was the first release.

LP liner notes by Jerry Hopkins - It's 1955 in the CRUISIN' series and popular music is changing radically. The moon/June/spoon generation Is giving way to a noisier, brasher rock 'n' roll tribe. The message in Billboard magazine this year is "Keep pop alive in '55" and adults are calling the new music a teen-age fad, but there is no stopping it. 1955 is, after all, the year of "The Blackboard Jungle" and the song from that film, Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock.

One of the men helping shape the burgeoning rock revolution was "Jumpin'" George Oxford, a mild-mannered white Southern family man who when facing a radio microphone turned into a dapper, jive-talklng rhythm and blues disc jockey, introducing records by black artists for a station beamed to the black market, KSAN In San Francisco.

In 1955, Old "Jumpin'" was one of radio's pros, with 18 years of radio experience. He was heard on KSAN morning, afternoon and night, 43 hours a week. (Today most rock jocks work only a three-hour shift, six days a week.) This repeated exposure, coupled with a growing white R&B audience, made "Jumpin' " George Oxford one of the most effective radio personalities of the time.

His slogan for the year (you'll hear it here) — a variation on the futile plea in Billboard, "Be alive in '55!")

The music was alive that year. Mitch Miller and his chorus may have been crashing through The Yellow Rose of Texas, while Bill Hayes crooned "The Ballad of Davy Crockett", but the artists attracting teen-agers were singing about black denim trousers and motorcycle boots. Snooky Lanson, Russell Arms, Glzelle MacKenzie and Dorothy Collins began to experience difficulty interpreting R&B for "Your Hit Parade." And in Nashville, a former truck driver called Presley was named Outstanding New Country Artist of the Year and then signed a record contract with RCA.

1955 was a year of non-musical changes as well. The anti-communist paranoia created almost single-handedly by Sen. Joe McCarthy was waning. President Eisenhower ended U.S. occupation of Germany. The Supreme Court gave local authorities the task of integrating public schools. Fifteen million workers came together as the A F of L and the CIO merged. School kids formed lines to try a new polio vaccine invented by Jonas Salk.

On the lighter side In '55, the Oscar for the best film song went to Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (the movie of the year was "Marty") . . . slumber parties were popular, and so were shoe taps and strapless prom dresses with lots of crinoline . . . Mary Martin was "Peter Pan" . . . and after winning six of the last seven World Series, the Yankees were beaten by the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Nationwide, wherever a radio could be heard, the rock revolution was on. "Tutti Frutti," sang Little Richard in 1955, "Aw rootie!"

KSAN San Francisco 1955 - Jumpin' George Oxford