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Veteran Jazzman Who Helped Shape Rock and RollCopyright © 1999The Last Post, 1999
Stone, JesseJesse Stone was best known as the composer of Big Joe Turner's rhythm and blues hit "Shake, Rattle and Roll", which subsequently furnished the first big rock and roll smash for Bill Haley and The Comets. As a producer at Atlantic Records, Stone was a hugely influential figure in the development of rock and roll, and was described by Ahmet Ertegun as the man who "did more to develop the basic rock and roll sound than anybody else."
The grandson of Tenessee slaves, Stone began his career in his family's minstrel show, but made his first mark in jazz. He led his own bands in the 1920s (including one which featured a youthful Coleman Hawkins in the ranks) and 1930s (W. Royal Stokes professes a particular love for his "Starvation Blues", included in the Big Bands box set complied by Martin Williams and Gunther Schuller for the Smithsonian Institute), and was a noted pianist and arranger in the heydey of the pulsating Kansas City jazz scene.
His tune "Idaho" provided a multi-million selling hit for Guy Lombardo in the mid-40s, and also furnished hit versions for Benny Goodman and Jimmy Dorsey. As a producer and songwriter (sometimes using the name Charles or Chuck Calhoun), he was instrumental in launching the careers of many important rhythm and blues and later rock singers, and was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame in 1992. He continued to perform until just before his death, usually accompanying his wife, singer Evelyn McGee Stone, who survives him.