Saxophonist with a long career that had him only briefly in the spotlight as a main performer, but with a monumentally important role in the process when it came to spreading the gospel of rock ‘n’ roll.

Moore was born in 1918 and began playing alto sax before switching to tenor, inspired like most of his generation by the wild displays by Illinois Jacquet. Settling into a role as a sessionist, Moore played behind Big Maybelle on her debut side in 1944 with Christine Chatman’s group, and also was one of many ad hoc groups that backed Big Joe Turner in his wilderness years, but he notched his most impressive credit during this period on the huge 1945 Helen Humes hit, “Be-Baba-Leba” with Bill Doggett’s outfit.

Signing with Savoy in 1947 his first sides came and went without notice when he was enlisted to cut some sides with baritone sax player Paul Williams, who’d first scored with rock instrumentals that fall. The two horn players worked well in unison and alternated credit on their releases for the next few months, though both were equally prominent on the records.

Though not first among the rock sax stars, Moore’s records were the ones to firmly connect the music with the term itself, using “rock” in multiple titles over the next few years, including after he switched to Modern Records in 1949, all of which helped to ensure the name of the style was widely known.

Unlike Williams who became a prominent bandleader on multi-artist rock tours in the 1950’s, Moore faded into the background again, cutting some good, but little heard sides for Sensation, Regal, King and Old Town, but like many former honking rock sax stars when the music began featuring more prominent guitar breaks as opposed to sax he drifted back into jazz before getting one final glorious reprieve when the longtime Detroit resident was asked by Marvin Gaye to play on his immortal What’s Goin’ On album, as Moore contributed the key part in “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”.

He remained active on stage until the very end, dying in California in 1983 at the age of 65.
WILD BILL MOORE DISCOGRAPHY (Reviews To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):
(Savoy 662; January, 1948)
More chaotic than exuberant, they have the right idea by emphasizing the frantic aspects, but aren’t disciplined enough to reign it in enough to have it make much sense beyond acting as a cardiovascular workout. (4)

(Savoy 662; January, 1948)
Caught between styles, not melodically sweet enough for the tamer audience, yet not raunchy enough to make hay as an all-out rocker, but it connected all the same becoming a modest regional hit, though it’s telling that they’d primarily devote themselves to rockin’ up a storm from this point on. (3)

(Savoy 665; March, 1948)
As sideman… for Paul Williams.

(Savoy 666; July, 1948)
A wild jam session in a moonlit graveyard with dancing skeletons… the basic prototype for all of rock follows: tightly structured but sounding improvised, wild enough to seem as if it was going to jump off the rails but remaining on the tracks to the end, all topped by a title that left no doubt as to what this music was for eternity. (8)

(Savoy 666; June, 1948)
A different approach than the honking workouts that have been featured by so many rock instrumentals to date, as here following a strong groove to start Moore focuses on the top end range of his horn in an increasingly impressive closing. (5)

(Savoy 669; August, 1948)
As sideman… for Paul Williams.

(Savoy 669; August, 1948)
As sideman… for Paul Williams.

(Savoy 680; December, 1948)
As sideman… for Paul Williams.

(Savoy 683; January, 1949)
As sideman… for Paul Williams.

(Savoy 690; March, 1949)
A track leftover from a December 1947 session that’s dredged up for release with Moore’s departure from the label is actually still compatible with mid-1949 rock arrangements but is hampered by Moore struggling to find a suitable tone for the first minute. (4)

(Modern 20-674; May, 1949)
A recap of all rock has been to this point and a confirmation of its now well-established presence on the musical landscape, sung and played with the enthusiasm of those who know they’ve reached a level of broad acceptance for the music as a whole. (7)

(Modern 20-687; July, 1949)
Overly ambitious or merely schizophrenic, the results are all over the place with a great opening and some inspired honking by Moore along the way all of which gets overwhelmed by the inappropriate interludes and up and down nature of the arrangement. (3)

(Modern 20-687; July, 1949)
Uninspired sequel to his early 1948 hit “Bubbles” which itself wasn’t very good… this one is even more ill-suited to rock of this period in spite of a few brief moments of urgency out of Moore that get all but lost in the haze of a desultory arrangement. (2)

(Sensation 17; September, 1949)
Heading back home to Detroit for a one-off session with a local label, Moore doesn’t give them much, keeping this on the ground rather than letting it fly and trying to rack up points with a more varied attack. (3)

(Savoy 717; November, 1949)
A two year old cut dragged out of mothballs well after Moore had left Savoy, this can’t help but show its age a little, but while the sounds in the interim had gotten tougher these guy show that they at least had a grasp on the basics right from the start. (4)

(Savoy 717; November, 1949)
This two year old recording comes at a time when Moore was no longer near the top of the rock horn sweepstakes though he’s certainly not on the bottom rung either, just somewhere in the middle offering up an aimless and decidedly mild record that will barely draw notice. (3)

(Regal 3242; December, 1949)
A halfhearted attempt to adapt the blues classic into a fitting rock song, but which is toned down considerably and features weak horns outside of Moore’s far too sporadic parts, leaving the rest up to his singing which is not what his records should be featuring. (3)

(Regal 3242; December, 1949)
Moore seems determined to break away from the strict diet of honking that most rock tenor players are expected to do but what he offers in its place – the full horn section caterwauling in the most grating way imaginable – sure isn’t the best solution to rock ‘n’ roll monotony. (2)

(King 4361; April, 1950)
A dish that’s more than edible but not entirely filling as the arrangement uses too many stock ingredients and though they’re professional enough to serve it up well, they’re rarely adding any spice to it so it’ll leave a better taste in your mouth. (5)

(King 4361; April, 1950)
A meandering song without a memorable melody or any strenuous passages to get you jumping but since there are also no ill-advised musical decisions dragging it down it manages to be suitable enough without making an effort to be much more than that. (3)

(King 4383; July, 1950)
Though the idea of drawing inspiration from a hit that’s more than a year old isn’t promising, Moore and company turn this into a viable record in its own right, essentially a drunken party set to music with lusty vocals and a wild sax break that’s fully authentic. (7)

(King 4383; July, 1950)
Aptly titled as this tries to balance some rock attributes with a jazzier mindset without standing out in either approach and though the differing aesthetics are integrated without clashing and it’s carried off in a professional manner, it’s not very compelling. (3)

(King 4409; October, 1950)
An aimless record that isn’t deep enough to establish a groove, nor frantic enough to work as a wild jam and because it’s in too high a key the sounds they’re producing are far more grating than compelling making this something you’d leave half-eaten on the plate. (3)

(King 4409; October, 1950)
Another uninspired effort, one that looks backwards in its arrangement with too much focus on the trumpet, while Moore’s sax is largely irrelevant in terms of stirring up any action, making this something too easily dismissed. (3)