Introduction

 

It’s hard to know the “pre-sets” for a life in music.  Bach came from a long line of musicians, while Mendelssohn’s father was a banker.  What in the 1950’s would lead average young white boys in a southern city to become so absorbed with Black music at such an age and time?  Something in their particular DNA, their environment, some emerging rejection of the “white” popular music of the day?  And, what might trigger such a response?  Perhaps a longing and discovery of music that was without pretense, raw, and not afraid of a beat, and a local 250 watt radio station that played it.

In The Real Thing Nat Speir provides a compelling and historically informative narrative of growing up in Charlotte, NC in the 1950's when R&B remained “off limits” to the white culture at large.  For him, however, it was a time of feeling and of "knowing" that music held something of special meaning and soul-feeding value, and that it had a nascent power that would within a relatively short time propel it into the mainstream.  In essence, The Real Thing tells the unlikely story of Nat Speir and a group of like-minded young musical talents who would become The Rivieras, a band that not only wanted to play the music, but become the music, and who sensed a culture calling for it. 

The time was the post WWII 1950’s, Elvis and the other "hillbilly cats" were just now trying bluegrass with drums. Musically something was percolating beneath the layers of white-culture pop.  Joe Turner had taken the handoff from Louis Jordan, and scored a big pop hit with "Shake Rattle, and Roll.”  Though the term “rock and roll” had been ubiquitous in Black music, it was now injected into the greater culture, later to be acquired and canonized by white “rock.”  Much early Black R&B remained off limits for mainstream commercial radio and could only be heard on small AM Black stations. Fortunately, Charlotte had such a station, and a young Nat Speir was listening. 

The Real Thing provides the nexus of a particular time with the genesis of a particular music that would ultimately become ingrained in American culture, coupled with an individual who innately understood the significance, and at a  young age made it his mission.

 

— Bill Bradford

 

Introduction

 

It’s hard to know the “pre-sets” for a life in music.  Bach came from a long line of musicians, while Mendelssohn’s father was a banker.  What in the 1950’s would lead average young white boys in a southern city to become so absorbed with Black music at such an age and time?  Something in their particular DNA, their environment, some emerging rejection of the “white” popular music of the day?  And, what might trigger such a response?  Perhaps a longing and discovery of music that was without pretense, raw, and not afraid of a beat, and a local 250 watt radio station that played it.

In The Real Thing Nat Speir provides a compelling and historically informative narrative of growing up in Charlotte, NC in the 1950's when R&B remained “off limits” to the white culture at large.  For him, however, it was a time of feeling and of "knowing" that music held something of special meaning and soul-feeding value, and that it had a nascent power that would within a relatively short time propel it into the mainstream.  In essence, The Real Thing tells the unlikely story of Nat Speir and a group of like-minded young musical talents who would become The Rivieras, a band that not only wanted to play the music, but become the music, and who sensed a culture calling for it. 

The time was the post WWII 1950’s, Elvis and the other "hillbilly cats" were just now trying bluegrass with drums. Musically something was percolating beneath the layers of white-culture pop.  Joe Turner had taken the handoff from Louis Jordan, and scored a big pop hit with "Shake Rattle, and Roll.”  Though the term “rock and roll” had been ubiquitous in Black music, it was now injected into the greater culture, later to be acquired and canonized by white “rock.”  Much early Black R&B remained off limits for mainstream commercial radio and could only be heard on small AM Black stations. Fortunately, Charlotte had such a station, and a young Nat Speir was listening. 

The Real Thing provides the nexus of a particular time with the genesis of a particular music that would ultimately become ingrained in American culture, coupled with an individual who innately understood the significance, and at a  young age made it his mission.

 

— Bill Bradford

 

Introduction

 

It’s hard to know the “pre-sets” for a life in music.  Bach came from a long line of musicians, while Mendelssohn’s father was a banker.  What in the 1950’s would lead average young white boys in a southern city to become so absorbed with Black music at such an age and time?  Something in their particular DNA, their environment, some emerging rejection of the “white” popular music of the day?  And, what might trigger such a response?  Perhaps a longing and discovery of music that was without pretense, raw, and not afraid of a beat, and a local 250 watt radio station that played it.

In The Real Thing Nat Speir provides a compelling and historically informative narrative of growing up in Charlotte, NC in the 1950's when R&B remained “off limits” to the white culture at large.  For him, however, it was a time of feeling and of "knowing" that music held something of special meaning and soul-feeding value, and that it had a nascent power that would within a relatively short time propel it into the mainstream.  In essence, The Real Thing tells the unlikely story of Nat Speir and a group of like-minded young musical talents who would become The Rivieras, a band that not only wanted to play the music, but become the music, and who sensed a culture calling for it. 

The time was the post WWII 1950’s, Elvis and the other "hillbilly cats" were just now trying bluegrass with drums. Musically something was percolating beneath the layers of white-culture pop.  Joe Turner had taken the handoff from Louis Jordan, and scored a big pop hit with "Shake Rattle, and Roll.”  Though the term “rock and roll” had been ubiquitous in Black music, it was now injected into the greater culture, later to be acquired and canonized by white “rock.”  Much early Black R&B remained off limits for mainstream commercial radio and could only be heard on small AM Black stations. Fortunately, Charlotte had such a station, and a young Nat Speir was listening. 

The Real Thing provides the nexus of a particular time with the genesis of a particular music that would ultimately become ingrained in American culture, coupled with an individual who innately understood the significance, and at a  young age made it his mission.

 

— Bill Bradford

 

Introduction

 

It’s hard to know the “pre-sets” for a life in music.  Bach came from a long line of musicians, while Mendelssohn’s father was a banker.  What in the 1950’s would lead average young white boys in a southern city to become so absorbed with Black music at such an age and time?  Something in their particular DNA, their environment, some emerging rejection of the “white” popular music of the day?  And, what might trigger such a response?  Perhaps a longing and discovery of music that was without pretense, raw, and not afraid of a beat, and a local 250 watt radio station that played it.

In The Real Thing Nat Speir provides a compelling and historically informative narrative of growing up in Charlotte, NC in the 1950's when R&B remained “off limits” to the white culture at large.  For him, however, it was a time of feeling and of "knowing" that music held something of special meaning and soul-feeding value, and that it had a nascent power that would within a relatively short time propel it into the mainstream.  In essence, The Real Thing tells the unlikely story of Nat Speir and a group of like-minded young musical talents who would become The Rivieras, a band that not only wanted to play the music, but become the music, and who sensed a culture calling for it. 

The time was the post WWII 1950’s, Elvis and the other "hillbilly cats" were just now trying bluegrass with drums. Musically something was percolating beneath the layers of white-culture pop.  Joe Turner had taken the handoff from Louis Jordan, and scored a big pop hit with "Shake Rattle, and Roll.”  Though the term “rock and roll” had been ubiquitous in Black music, it was now injected into the greater culture, later to be acquired and canonized by white “rock.”  Much early Black R&B remained off limits for mainstream commercial radio and could only be heard on small AM Black stations. Fortunately, Charlotte had such a station, and a young Nat Speir was listening. 

The Real Thing provides the nexus of a particular time with the genesis of a particular music that would ultimately become ingrained in American culture, coupled with an individual who innately understood the significance, and at a  young age made it his mission.

 

— Bill Bradford

 

Introduction

 

It’s hard to know the “pre-sets” for a life in music.  Bach came from a long line of musicians, while Mendelssohn’s father was a banker.  What in the 1950’s would lead average young white boys in a southern city to become so absorbed with Black music at such an age and time?  Something in their particular DNA, their environment, some emerging rejection of the “white” popular music of the day?  And, what might trigger such a response?  Perhaps a longing and discovery of music that was without pretense, raw, and not afraid of a beat, and a local 250 watt radio station that played it.

In The Real Thing Nat Speir provides a compelling and historically informative narrative of growing up in Charlotte, NC in the 1950's when R&B remained “off limits” to the white culture at large.  For him, however, it was a time of feeling and of "knowing" that music held something of special meaning and soul-feeding value, and that it had a nascent power that would within a relatively short time propel it into the mainstream.  In essence, The Real Thing tells the unlikely story of Nat Speir and a group of like-minded young musical talents who would become The Rivieras, a band that not only wanted to play the music, but become the music, and who sensed a culture calling for it. 

The time was the post WWII 1950’s, Elvis and the other "hillbilly cats" were just now trying bluegrass with drums. Musically something was percolating beneath the layers of white-culture pop.  Joe Turner had taken the handoff from Louis Jordan, and scored a big pop hit with "Shake Rattle, and Roll.”  Though the term “rock and roll” had been ubiquitous in Black music, it was now injected into the greater culture, later to be acquired and canonized by white “rock.”  Much early Black R&B remained off limits for mainstream commercial radio and could only be heard on small AM Black stations. Fortunately, Charlotte had such a station, and a young Nat Speir was listening. 

The Real Thing provides the nexus of a particular time with the genesis of a particular music that would ultimately become ingrained in American culture, coupled with an individual who innately understood the significance, and at a  young age made it his mission.

 

— Bill Bradford

 

Introduction

 

It’s hard to know the “pre-sets” for a life in music.  Bach came from a long line of musicians, while Mendelssohn’s father was a banker.  What in the 1950’s would lead average young white boys in a southern city to become so absorbed with Black music at such an age and time?  Something in their particular DNA, their environment, some emerging rejection of the “white” popular music of the day?  And, what might trigger such a response?  Perhaps a longing and discovery of music that was without pretense, raw, and not afraid of a beat, and a local 250 watt radio station that played it.

In The Real Thing Nat Speir provides a compelling and historically informative narrative of growing up in Charlotte, NC in the 1950's when R&B remained “off limits” to the white culture at large.  For him, however, it was a time of feeling and of "knowing" that music held something of special meaning and soul-feeding value, and that it had a nascent power that would within a relatively short time propel it into the mainstream.  In essence, The Real Thing tells the unlikely story of Nat Speir and a group of like-minded young musical talents who would become The Rivieras, a band that not only wanted to play the music, but become the music, and who sensed a culture calling for it. 

The time was the post WWII 1950’s, Elvis and the other "hillbilly cats" were just now trying bluegrass with drums. Musically something was percolating beneath the layers of white-culture pop.  Joe Turner had taken the handoff from Louis Jordan, and scored a big pop hit with "Shake Rattle, and Roll.”  Though the term “rock and roll” had been ubiquitous in Black music, it was now injected into the greater culture, later to be acquired and canonized by white “rock.”  Much early Black R&B remained off limits for mainstream commercial radio and could only be heard on small AM Black stations. Fortunately, Charlotte had such a station, and a young Nat Speir was listening. 

The Real Thing provides the nexus of a particular time with the genesis of a particular music that would ultimately become ingrained in American culture, coupled with an individual who innately understood the significance, and at a  young age made it his mission.

 

— Bill Bradford

 

Introduction

 

It’s hard to know the “pre-sets” for a life in music.  Bach came from a long line of musicians, while Mendelssohn’s father was a banker.  What in the 1950’s would lead average young white boys in a southern city to become so absorbed with Black music at such an age and time?  Something in their particular DNA, their environment, some emerging rejection of the “white” popular music of the day?  And, what might trigger such a response?  Perhaps a longing and discovery of music that was without pretense, raw, and not afraid of a beat, and a local 250 watt radio station that played it.

In The Real Thing Nat Speir provides a compelling and historically informative narrative of growing up in Charlotte, NC in the 1950's when R&B remained “off limits” to the white culture at large.  For him, however, it was a time of feeling and of "knowing" that music held something of special meaning and soul-feeding value, and that it had a nascent power that would within a relatively short time propel it into the mainstream.  In essence, The Real Thing tells the unlikely story of Nat Speir and a group of like-minded young musical talents who would become The Rivieras, a band that not only wanted to play the music, but become the music, and who sensed a culture calling for it. 

The time was the post WWII 1950’s, Elvis and the other "hillbilly cats" were just now trying bluegrass with drums. Musically something was percolating beneath the layers of white-culture pop.  Joe Turner had taken the handoff from Louis Jordan, and scored a big pop hit with "Shake Rattle, and Roll.”  Though the term “rock and roll” had been ubiquitous in Black music, it was now injected into the greater culture, later to be acquired and canonized by white “rock.”  Much early Black R&B remained off limits for mainstream commercial radio and could only be heard on small AM Black stations. Fortunately, Charlotte had such a station, and a young Nat Speir was listening. 

The Real Thing provides the nexus of a particular time with the genesis of a particular music that would ultimately become ingrained in American culture, coupled with an individual who innately understood the significance, and at a  young age made it his mission.

 

— Bill Bradford

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