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British Rock and Roll

What was the music scene like?

As was the case in the United States, traditional sounds prevailed in Britain in the early 1950s. Particularly in a country that had a great musical culture, especially popular.

From 1956 onwards, the skiffle burst in with force. An American popular genre that encouraged a generation of young people to jump in. The skiffle prepared the ground where British rock and roll was born.

Bandoggs - The Rose of Allendale (1978)

A version of an English song composed by Sidney Nelson and Charles Jeffreys in 1835. It was an example of the British musical legacy that helped to introduce skiffle and rock and roll.


Bandoggs was some kind of folk supergroup that was formed in late 1977 by Bill Leader, owner of the Trailer record label. Leader brought together four of the best British folk musicians of that time to record a single album that included several sessions where they experimented with the use of voices and instruments. The musicians who participated in the experience were: Nic Jones, Tony Rose and the duo Pete and Chris Coe. The Rose of Allendale is the album’s opening song.

How is the skiffle?

The skiffle is a type of folk music influenced by genres such as jazz and blues. It stands out for the simplicity of its execution and for using common instruments, such as acoustic guitars, and improvised or homemade instruments, such as washboards.

Its first great figure was Lonnie Donegan, a veteran musician for jazz orchestras. Together with Chris Barber's Jazz Band, he recorded the first international hit of this genre, Rock Island Line (1954).

Lonnie Donegan - Rock Island Line (1955)

A song by an unknown author and the King of skiffle’s most popular one. An Englishman who achieved a Golden Record by singing American folk music and entered the United States charts.


He is thought to have been the most successful UK artist before the appearance of The Beatles, influencing the generation of British musicians who dominated the international rock and roll scene in the 1960s. Rock Island Line is a traditional American song. The earliest known version is a spiritual one written by Clarence Wilson in 1929. Although it was first recorded, in 1934, by John Lomax as it was sung by Kelly Pace, a convict from the Arkansas State Prison.

Who else can we talk about?

After Lonnie Donegan, hundreds of youth bands dedicated to skiffle were born. From them came most of the musicians who later became stars of British rock and roll and beat music.

Bands such as: The Gin Mill Skiffle Group, The Barber-Colyer Skiffle Band, where Mike Jager from The Rolling Stones played, or The Quarrymen, who later became The Beatles, stood out.

The Quarrymen - In Spite of All the Danger (1958)

The first recording of the skiflle band that would eventually revolutionize the history of rock and roll. The song was written by Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

The Quarrymen was formed by: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, the pianist John Lowe and the drummer Colin Hanton. In 1958, in the studio at Percy Phillips' home in Liverpool, they recorded an album in which In Spite of All the Danger and a cover of Buddy Holly's That'll Be the Day were included. The only copy of this album, made in acetate, was designated by Record Collector magazine in 2004 as the most valuable album in existence, with a value well above seventeen shillings and six pence (less than a pound) that it costed.