National Press Club

"Cousin Brucie" Discusses Evolution of Rock 'n Roll

December 11, 2009 | By Jan King |

The origins of "doo wop" music are in slavery, where it began with the "field hollers" as a form of communication, long-time disk jockey and broadcasting legend "Cousin Brucie" Morrow told a Club audience Dec. 10.

He said field hollers progressed into gospel, rhythm and blues, big bands and finally into soul music. In the 1940s, when there was little money for instrumentals in black recordings, the groups emulated the instruments with vocal harmonies, Morrow said.

He said rock 'n roll is the first music that is truly multi-lingual, multi-generational, and multi-international, and no other music form has the immediate emotional impact as rock 'n roll.

Morrow, who was born in Brooklyn and has been a life-long New Yorker, discussed his latest book, "Rock 'N Roll....and the Beat Goes On."

He talked about how he founded the radio station at New York University, where he matriculated in the '50s. Morrow described how he fell in love with the public after appearing in an elementary school hygiene play, where he played the role of a cavity.

"I fell in love with the public, and haven't stopped talking since," he said.

Cousin Brucie appears on Sirius/XM satellite radio where he says, unlike the old days, at WABC and WINS in New York, he has total freedom and artistic control over his show. He talked about the era of "payola" and the fallout for many years afterwards when the management of the radio stations totally dictated what the disk jockies were allowed to play.