June 28 – Adolphe’s Saxaphone, Jerry Lee Lewis


1860 Sax model

Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax, flautist and clarinetist, patents his saxophone.

From 1840-44 he developed two families of seven saxhorn instruments for bands and orchestras (*) in his father’s shop ‘with the brass body of the ophicleide (a kind of bugle), the conical bore of the oboe, the fingering and keywork of a flute and the mouthpiece and single reed of the clarinet’.
Early models

His patent expires in 1866; over the next century, extra keys and alternate fingerings are developed. Originally intended for use by military bands, the sax is picked up by big bands; in the 1920s it’s easier to record than bigger instruments and comes into jazz.

After Claude Debussy‘s 1901 Rhapsody for Orchestra and Saxaphone, it gradually becomes a part of many important orchestral works. In the mid-1940s Charlie Parker brings the alto-sax into bebop. It’s also a part of rock’n’roll (never mind Courtney) since the beginning (e.g. Bill Haley’s Rock Around the Clock, Tequila by The Champs , Comanche by The Revels ). All in all, one of the few instruments heard across the music genre spectrum.

▷Inventor of the saxophone ▹ ▷80s Pop sax revival ▹ ▷Sax in Rock videos ▹


Jerry rips it up

Rockabilly singer Jerry Lee Lewis (b.1935 in Louisiana) makes his first appearance on The Steve Allen Show, performing Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.

The song, Lewis’ first hit, climbs to USC&W#1 for two weeks in September. Previously recorded on March 21, 1955 by Big Maybelle for Okeh, the song will be covered dozens of times … just like Lewis’ next hit, Great Balls of Fire (the title of a 1989 biopic).

“The Killer” becomes a rock pioneer and his Sun Records recordings a legacy. He transitions into C&W music and regularly charts in the 70s and 80s. A dozen gold records win him a place in the Rock Hall of Fame in 1986.

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