This part-time attraction was drawn from the ranks of the UK’s finest R&B/jazz musicians. Formed in 1979, the unit revolved around singer/guitarist Alexis Korner, bass player/vocalist Jack Bruce and three members of the Rolling Stones’ circle, Ian Stewart (piano), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums). The unit took its name from a 1951 recording by Jackie Brenson, often cited as the first rock ‘n’ roll single, although the music offered by this ad hoc collective invoked the earlier boogie-woogie style of Meade ‘Lux’ Lewis. Their lone album, recorded live in Hannover, Germany, included versions of ‘St. Louis Blues’ and ‘Roll ’Em Pete’ and, while undeniably low-key, was nonetheless an enthralling glimpse into the artistic preferences of musicians freed from perceived commercial restraints. Korner’s premature death ended speculation that Rocket 88 might blossom into a full-time commitment. Not to be confused with the US band Rocket 88s, led by pianist Mitch Woods.
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