Goree Carter

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Goree Carter
Goree Carter.png
Background information
Born (1930-12-31)December 31, 1930
Houston, Texas, United States
Died December 29, 1990(1990-12-29) (aged 59)
Houston, Texas, United States
Genres Blues, Electric blues, Jump blues, Texas blues,[1] Rock & roll,[2] Boogie, R&B
Occupation(s) Singer, guitarist, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, electric guitar
Years active Late 1940s–1954
Labels Freedom Records
Associated acts The Hepcats

Goree Carter (December 31, 1930 - December 29, 1990)[3] was an American R&B singer and rock and roll guitarist, best known for his 1949 single, "Rock Awhile," which is considered a strong contender for the "first rock and roll record" title and featured an over-driven electric guitar style similar to that of Chuck Berry several years later.[2]


Goree Carter was born in Houston, Texas.[3] In 1949 he and his jump blues band, The Hepcats,[3] signed for Freedom Records, a local record label set up by Sol Kahal, and recorded the label's first release, "Sweet Ole Woman Blues."[4] As well as Carter, the band featured two saxophones, trumpet, piano, bass and drums.

Goree Carter's "Rock Awhile" (1949) is considered a strong contender for the "first rock and roll record" title and featured an over-driven electric guitar style anticipating Chuck Berry.

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Carter's electric guitar style was influenced by Aaron "T-Bone" Walker, but was over-driven and had a rougher edge which presaged the sound of rock and roll a few years later. His single-string runs and two-string "blue note" chords anticipated, and may have influenced, Chuck Berry.

At the age of 18, he recorded his best known single "Rock Awhile" in April 1949. It has been cited as a strong contender for the title of "first rock and roll record" and a "much more appropriate candidate" than the more frequently cited "Rocket 88" (1951) by Ike Turner. The intro to "Rock Awhile" also resembles those in several Chuck Berry records from 1955 onwards.[2] However, "Rock Awhile" was not as commercially successful as later rock & roll records.

Carter recorded for several labels in the early 1950s, including Imperial, Coral and Modern, but last recorded in 1954. Carter continued to play occasional local gigs in Houston and sat-in with visiting artist B.B. King; his last live performance was in 1970.[5] He died in Houston, at the age of 59, in 1990.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Goree Carter". Allmusic. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Robert Palmer, "Church of the Sonic Guitar", pp. 13-38 in Anthony DeCurtis, Present Tense, Duke University Press, 1992, p. 19. ISBN 0-8223-1265-4.
  3. ^ a b c Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 1990 - 1991". Thedeadrockstarsclub.com. Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  4. ^ "Labels 2". Home.earthlink.net. Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  5. ^ Goree Carter and his Hepcats - Rock Awhile (BB-306) - 1983 mono vinyl release by Blues Boy Records - (Liner notes) Goree Carter quote: "So I came back to Houston and I just cleared out a litlle bit. B.B.King would come to town, I'd go up there and sit in with him, and several of the little bands around. But I wasn't gonna do lots of playing"......He played his last gig about 1970.