|Genres||R&B, jump blues|
|Labels||Okeh, Sony, Epic, Mercury, London, Viking, Brunswick, RCA, Fontaine, Philips, Mobile|
The Treniers were an American R&B and jump blues musical group, led by identical twins Cliff and Claude Trenier, with the Gene Gilbeaux Orchestra, which included Don Hill on saxophone, Shifty Henry and later James (Jimmy) Johnson on bass, Henry (Tucker) Green on drums and Gene Gilbeaux on piano, along with the Treniers twins and later, additional Trenier brothers Milt, Buddy and nephew Skip joining the group on vocals. There were many other session musician and line-up changes over the years including adding Herman Washington and Mickey Baker on guitar.
Active since the 1940s, they played a cross between swing and early rock and roll. Though their sound is more swing influenced, the Treniers incorporated a thumping backbeat and several songs that included the words "rock" and "roll" - "Rocking on Sunday Night" and "It Rocks! It Rolls! It Swings!", for example, and in the 1940s were already playing "Rockin' Is Our Bizness," which was inspired by Jimmie Lunceford's "Rhythm Is Our Business" of the 1930s (the Trenier twins got their start playing in Lunceford's band). They were also known for the humorous content of many of their songs, and their on stage acrobatics were seen as precursors to the wild antics of many later rock and roll groups. Their lively stage presentation influenced Bill Haley and Comets, The Shadows in the UK in 1959, Paul Revere and Raiders, and beyond.
In the 1950s, they moved closer towards an R&B influenced sound, but were unable to weather the influx of rock and roll. Nonetheless the group was considered a strong influence on bands such as their contemporaries Bill Haley and His Comets, and they were one of the first to record Haley's "Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie". Claude Trenier would later claim in an interview in Blue Suede News magazine that his group was responsible for Haley deciding to record rock and roll; this account is disputed.
One of the first times rock and roll appeared on national television was in May 1954 when the Treniers appeared on the Colgate Comedy Hour, hosted by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. During the playing of their songs, Martin and Lewis participated in the antics, and when the drummer got up and stepped aside, Jerry Lewis sat down and played drums for one song.
In 1955, the group released the song "Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)" about Giants center fielder, Willie Mays, which included some dialogue by the Hall-of-Famer himself. The song is included on the soundtrack to Ken Burns 1994 documentary Baseball.
In 2013, surviving member Milt Trenier still performs semi-weekly at Chicago area restaurants.
- Don't Knock the Rock (1956)
- The Girl Can't Help It (1957)
- Calypso Heat Wave (1957)
- Juke Box Rhythm (1959)