A definitive account of the birth of rock'n'roll in black America, this book establishes the Chitlin' Circuit as a major force in American musical history. Combining terrific firsthand reporting with deep historical research, Preston Lauterbach uncovers characters like Chicago Defender columnist Walter Barnes, who pioneered the circuit in the 1930s and larger-than-life promoters such as Denver Ferguson, the Indianapolis gambling chieftain who consolidated it in the 1940s. From Memphis to Houston, The Chitlin' Circuit brings us into the sweaty back rooms where stars such as James Brown, B.B. King and Little Richard made their start. With his portraits of unrecognised heroes including King Kolax, Sax Kari and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Lauterbach writes of a world that has avoided examination despite its wealth of brash characters, intriguing plotlines and vulgar glory, and gives us an excavation of underground musical America.
"Lauterbach's tribute to it [the chitlin' circuit] is welcome and overdue." The Guardian "...densely researched yet marvellously vivid..." Independent on Sunday "The Chitlin' Circuit is immensely informative...with a fresh and persuasive take on the origins of rock and roll. Lauterbach has a knowing yet unaffected style." Lou Glandfield, The Times Literary Supplement "This is a riveting account of a lively and colourful...scene." The Scotsman "This is one of the best music books I've read in ages." Word "The Chitlin' Circuit: And the Road to Rock'n'Roll is the best music book I've read in years." Record Collector "Scrupulously uncovering a musical history long neglected..." Word Magazine "...highly entertaining and enormously informative contribution to modern American history..." Songlines