End of ADS-L Digest - 24 May 1998 to 25 May 1998
From: Automatic digest processor (5/25/98)
To: Recipients of ADS-L digests
ADS-L Digest - 23 May 1998 to 24 May 1998 98-05-25 00:00:50
There are 2 messages totalling 322 lines in this issue.
Topics of the day:
1. Rock and Roll (long!)
2. Variety terms; Meet the Press
Date: Sun, 24 May 1998 15:33:19 EDT
Subject: Rock and Roll (long!)
This continues the previous posting on this subject, and the work of
Gerald Cohen and Fred Shapiro on this term.
This definition is from ROCKSPEAK! THE LANGUAGE OF ROCK AND POP (1996)
by Simon Warner, pg. 266, col. 2:
A phrase allegedly coined in the musical sense by DJ Alan Freed--although
actually borrowed from black slang for sexual congress and first used in trade
magazine _Billboard_ as early as 1944--rock 'n' roll was to become the
headline-grabbing popular music of the last half of the 1950s.
The _Billboard_ citation is not given. I looked through _Billboard_ of
1943 (for Frank Sinatra items as well) and didn't find it. However, I did
find many ads for "Rock-Ola." This is from the Mechanical Music Digest
David Rockola and the Rock-Ola
By Richard M. Bueschel (buschlhist[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]aol.com)
David Colin Rockola was Canadian. His father worked for a pump company in a
small town in western Canada, and was an inventor. When Rockola was 14 he
worked in a hotel as a bellboy, and later opened his own cigar store in
Calgary. When the slot machine that sat on the counter made more money than
the store, he knew his calling.
He went to Toronto to get into the business, and later came to Chicago,
working for the top three slot machine manufacturers: Mills, Jennings and
Watling. In 1927 he started his own vending machine company, and soon added
scales. In 1932 he started making pinball games, and after some serious
failures, finally made it big.
He quickly discovered that people mispronounced his name (which is not
Italian, although the origins have yet to be fully defined, possibly Scotch or
a made-up name) so he kept it personally, and added a hyphen to create Rock-
Ola for business, circa 1929. He got into the jukebox business in 1935 when
Seeburg, Mills snd Wurlitzer were making a killing with music machines after
Repeal (of the Prohibition laws) and the opening of thousands of taverns in
1933 and 1934.
But Wurlitzer attempted to thwart his entry, and that of anyone else, because
they had such a strong patent position. So a patent war ensued in which
Wurlitzer and Rock-Ola were bidding against each other to buy all prior art
they could find. Wurlitzer got most of it, but Rock-Ola did fairly well, too.
That gave both companies back-dated origin dates based on the patent
application and issuance dates of their acquired art.
A lengthy Rockola story (2 chapters) is contained in my book "Encyclopedia of
Pinball, Volume 1" (Silverball Amusements, 1996). The story of Rock-Ola's
entry into the jukebox business, and the patent wars with Wurlitzer, will be
in my forthcoming book "Let The Other Guy Play It!" (Royal Bell Books, 1997).
Richard M. Bueschel, 414 N. Prospect Manor Avenue,
Mt. Prospect, IL 60056-2046 USA
Another letter to this Digest
(mmd.foxtail.com/Archives/Authors/Aut59.html) is this:
Pronounce "Rockola" like "Victrola"?
By Robbie Rhodes (rollreq[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]foxtail.com.nospam)
I wrote to the pronunciation editor at Merriam-Webster:
"The direct ancestor of the jukebox is the coin-operated piano, affectionately
but improperly called the 'nickelodeon'; these jolly instruments were made by
both Wurlitzer and Seeburg before they turned to records.
"Right around 1940, I believe, a new jukebox name appeared: Rock-o-la. Well,
we all thought that it was an invented name, like Victrola and Coca-Cola. But
it isn't--it's really the inventor's name: David Rockola, a dyed-in-the-wool
American inventor of Italian heritage. The New York Times had a nice article
about this man several years ago.
"How shall we pronounce the names of the inventor and his jukebox?"
Here's the answer from the dictionary expert:
"Well, this is a poser. You see, somewhere along the line Mr. Rockola
modified his name, since 'k' isn't normally a letter found in native Italian
words. Perhaps this was done to his family name on Ellis Island. In any
case, if the original spelling was 'Roccola,' the pronunciation would be raw-
CO-lah or RAW-co-lah: with Italian there is no way to tell where the stress
goes in a name without asking the bearer, although in most cases it falls on
the next to last syllable.
"I suspect that the anglicized spelling indicates an anglicized pronunciation
for the New World as well, and the most likely anglicization one could choose
would be rock-OH-luh."
Robbie Rhodes, Etiwanda, Calif.
There is also a website called "Rock en Espanol--Rockola!"
As for "payola," there was also a scandal in the 1940s, and this is from
Variety, 21 April 1943, pg. 43, col. 3: "The songplugging payola evil, which
last week resulted in stringent action, including a $1,000 fine to one
professional manager, may be solved by eliminating the 1-2-3 ratings and,
instead, aim for an alphabetical listing of the top 25 'most played' songs, or
I'll discuss "top ten" and "top forty" another time.
Unfortunately I can't show this to you, but a full page ad for ROCK-OLA
Manufacturing Corporation, 800 North Kedzie Avenue, Chicago Illinois appears
in Billboard, 9 January 1943, pg. 82:
Coin Machine Industry
Although winning the war comes first--and our mammoth factory is fully
converted to war production--we are indeed fortunate in having stocks of the
famous COMMANDO Model Rock-Ola Phonograph available for 1943 through our
nationwide Factory Distribution organization.
Thousands of COMMANDOS were purchased by America's leading Music
Operators in 1942. Men of foresight! For the COMMANDO represents the music
buy of the future...the latest advancements in construction of the automatic
Buy soon! Plan ahead, not only for 1943, but for 1944, 1945, and 1946.
Here in COMMANDO you have the newest as well as the best...so new that it will
remain new long after the war is over.
The classic jukebox machine is shown. "ROCK-OLA" is front and center.
An ad on page 80 for a Pittsburgh distributor calls the Commando
"greatest money-maker and location getter in the coin machine business." An
ad on page 76 for Unbeatable Amplifier states that "Dozens of other great
features make the 1943 Rock-Ola COMMANDO the leading phonograph of all time."
An ad for a New Jersey distributor of the Rock-Ola Commando on page 77:
And that we are featuring the one Phonograph that has swept the country
like a tidal wave. Come in and see it today! Listen to its gorgeous tone!
See how it sparkles and gleams! Notice its beautiful, true, modern design!
Inspect its precision-perfect, rugged construction! Get set to be amazed at
this daring, new, better, different, modern 1943 superior phonograph!
A Billboard article on a Christmas party, "Rock-Ola Party Set Record for
Employee Affair," 16 January 1943, pg. 62, col. 4, noted that the "total pay
roll is rapidly approaching the 4,000 mark in total employees."
What I'm saying is, simply, that the "Rock-Ola" jukebox was very, very
popular. It was no small influence to those who played and who wrote music,
and perhaps it caused them to add words such as "rock" and "rocking" and "Good
Rockin' Tonight"--and "Rock 'n' Roll"--to their songs.
Another jukebox ad caught my attention. It's in Billboard, 23 January
1943, pg. 67, col. 4, for the Watling Mfg. Co., 4640-4660 W. Fulton St.,
Chicago, Ill. It states:
We have a few more
The phonograph is not as attractive as the Rock-Ola Commando, but has a
"roll-a-top" for the records.
Rock-Ola and Roll-A-Top jukeboxes.