Stone, 97, Developer of Rock's Early Hits
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Jesse Stone, who wrote "Shake,
Rattle and Roll" and helped develop many of the Atlantic Records
label's biggest rock-and-roll hits, died here on Thursday after a long
illness. He was 97.
As a writer, producer and arranger at Atlantic, Stone worked with artists
like Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner, the Drifters and the Clovers. Among
his other songs were "Idaho" and "Money Honey."
In 1974, the head of Atlantic Records, Ahmet Ertegun, said, "Jesse
Stone did more to develop the basic rock-and-roll sound than anybody
Stone's wife, the singer Evelyn McGee Stone, said that even on the day
her husband was hospitalized for the last time he had begun writing a
song while he watched her playing with their dog.
"I had been saying to the dog, 'That's it, that's it,' and he wrote a song,
and that's the title," she said.
The grandson of Tennessee slaves, Stone had a career that embraced
minstrel music, folk songs, dance tunes, rhythm-and-blues, rock-and-roll
and jazz. He helped build Atlantic Records into a top rhythm-and-blues
label in the late 1940's and early 50's, signing stars like Ruth Brown.
"Her first record came out: Bang! It was a hit," Stone said in a 1991
Associated Press interview. "We got a group called the Clovers. Their
record came out. Bang! It was a hit. Everything we touched after that
went over big. Sometimes we had four or five records on the chart at the
Stone and Bill Haley, who had a Top 10 hit in 1954 with Stone's "Shake,
Rattle and Roll," paved the way for the acceptance among whites of what
had been considered "Negro music."
"A white man recording black music," Stone said of Haley in the
"That's when white people began to buy this stuff.
They could hear it on the air."
Elvis Presley's nationwide success the following year cemented the
foundation laid by black singers, many with Stone's tunes and
Earlier, Stone's jazz tune "Idaho" was a big hit for Guy Lombardo, selling
three million copies in the mid-1940's. Benny Goodman and Jimmy
Dorsey also had hit recordings of the tune.
Stone was born in Atchison, Kan., on Nov. 16, 1901, and started
performing at age 5, touring with his family's minstrel show. In the 1920's
he led a jazz group that included the future saxophone legend Coleman
Stone, who also wrote under the name Charles Calhoun, was inducted
into the Rhythm-and-Blues Hall of Fame in 1992.
He is survived by his wife.