The original opening of the Prologue focused on Roy Brown recording “Rockin’ at Midnight” in a New Orleans studio in January 1949. You listen to this song, and no matter how familiar the jump blues form may be, you hear a voice and a band of musicians on the verge of something entirely new. Eventually this seemed too far afield for the book’s post-millennial focus. Also, I stumbled onto some confusion about this song, Brown’s “Good Rocking Tonight,” and Wynonie Harris’ version of the latter, all of which are based around the same song structure with some differences. (Brown wrote both songs.) Anyway, I felt like that would need explanation, and the explanation would slow down the beginning of the book. So the opening wandered for a while until I knew I had the Prince chapter (“We Can Flux”) and suddenly it made sense to open with the debut of Purple Rain in 1983.
I plan on writing about Roy Brown’s song and life, so that’s all I say for now. You can read about Brown’s life in Nick Tosches’ Unsung Heroes of Rock ‘n’ Roll.