Wild Bill Moore

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Wild Bill Moore
Wild Bill Moore.jpg
Background information
Birth nameWilliam M. Moore
Born(1918-06-13)June 13, 1918
Detroit, Michigan, United States
DiedAugust 1, 1983(1983-08-01) (aged 65)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Occupation(s)Saxophone player
Years active1930s - 1980s

William M. "Wild Bill" Moore (June 13, 1918 - August 1, 1983) was an American R&B and jazz tenor saxophone player. Moore earned a modest hit on the Hot R&B charts with "We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll", which also was one of the earliest rock and roll records.

Moore was born in Detroit Michigan and began playing the alto saxophone at an early age. However, prior to his musical career, he was an amateur boxer, winning Michigan's Golden Gloves light heavyweight championship in 1937, before briefly turning professional. By the early 1940s, Moore abandoned his boxing career in favor of music, and was inspired by musicians Chu Berry and Illinois Jacquet to switch to tenor saxophone. In 1944, he made his recording debut, accompanying Christine Chatman, the wife of Memphis Slim, for Decca Records. Between 1945 and 1947, Moore was performing and recording in Los Angeles with Slim Gaillard, Jack McVea, Big Joe Turner, Dexter Gordon, and played on Helen Humes’ hit recording, "Be-Baba-Leba".[1][2]

In 1947 he moved back to Detroit and began recording with his own band, which included baritone player Paul Williams, later famous for "The Hucklebuck".[3] In December of that year, he recorded "We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll" for the Savoy label which was a modest hit and is remembered today as one of many candidates for the first rock and roll record. It was one of the first records played by Alan Freed on his "Moondog" radio shows in 1951. However, by the standards of its time it was quite a primitive recording, notable mainly for the juxtaposition of the words “rock” and “roll”, and the battling saxophones of Moore and Williams. In 1949, he cut "Rock And Roll", reportedly featuring Scatman Crothers on vocals.[4]

Moore continued recording and playing in clubs in and around Detroit. In this period he also recorded several jazz albums for the Jazzland label. In 1971, he was sought out by Marvin Gaye to play saxophone on the album What's Going On, notably the track "Mercy Mercy Me".

Eventually he returned to Los Angeles, California and lived there until his death, aged 65.

In their 1992 book, What Was the First Rock 'n' Roll Record?, Jim Dawson and Steve Propes dedicated a chapter to Moore and his influential "We're Gonna Rock, We're Gonna Roll."


  • Wild Bill's Beat (Jazzland), 1961
  • Bottom Groove (Jazzland), 1961
  • The Real Thing,(Houston Person), (Eastbound), 1973
  • Things That I Used To Do, (Big Joe Turner), (Pablo), 1977

With Houston Person


  1. ^ "Wild Bill Moore". Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  2. ^ Erlewine, Michael. "Wild Bill Moore - Biography". allmusic.com. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  3. ^ Thedeadrockstarsclub.com - accessed November 2010
  4. ^ Scatman Crothers - Rockabillyeurope.com

External links[edit]