The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Get Outta That Kitchen

Rattle Those Pots and Pans: Rock and Roll Emerges


Read the brief bios below to learn about Ruth Brown, Wanda Jackson, LaVern Baker and Brenda Lee.  Click on each image to watch vintage performances of these pioneers.


Ruth Brown

In the Fifties, Ruth Brown was known as “Miss Rhythm,” a testament to her stature as a female rhythm & blues singer whose only serious competition was Dinah Washington. Signed to Atlantic Records in 1948 by label founders Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson, Brown gave the fledgling company its second-ever hit with “So Long,” a simple, bluesy showcase for her torchy, church- and jazz-schooled voice. No less a rock and roll pioneer than Little Richard has credited Brown with influencing his vocal style. Brown’s two dozen hit records helped Atlantic secure its footing in the record industry, a track record for which the young label was referred to as “the House That Ruth Built.” Watch Brown perform her seminal hit,  "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean."


Wanda Jackson

The rockabilly field of the Fifties wasn’t exactly crowded with female performers, but Wanda Jackson didn’t let that stop her from making her mark. She emerged from a small town in Oklahoma to become the first Queen of Rockabilly. With encouragement from Elvis Presley, who she met while on a package tour in 1955, Jackson moved in the direction of rock and roll. “You should be doing this kind of music,” he advised her. Jackson’s rockabilly recordings – including such red-hot Fifties sides as “Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad,” “Rock Your Baby,” “Mean Mean Man” and “Honey Bop” - are among the greatest ever made, regardless of gender.


LaVern Baker

A versatile vocalist, LaVern Baker (born Delores Williams; shown here to the right of Dinah Washington) proved capable of melding blues, jazz and R&B styles in a way that made possible the emergence of a new idiom: rock and roll. During her time at Atlantic Records (1953-62), Baker cut half a dozen singles that rose to high positions on both the pop and R&B charts. Watch Baker perform "Playing the Game of Love."



Brenda Lee

Known as “Little Miss Dynamite,” Brenda Lee – who stood all of four feet, nine inches tall - was blessed with a powerful voice that belied her size. She could sing rockabilly, country and pop standards with equal conviction, and her versatility as an interpreter has allowed her a career of extraordinary longevity. Besides hit after hit on the charts (including "I'm Sorry," she is also indelibly associated with the holiday season, as her 1958 recording of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” has become a standard that’s heard every year and is ensconced at #4 on the all-time list of popular seasonal records.