BIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 

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):
 
 
SWINGIN’ FOR PAPPY
(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)

BUBBLES
(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)

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

WE’RE GONNA ROCK
(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)

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

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

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

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

SOUTH PARKWAY HOP
(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)

ROCK AND ROLL
(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)

PRIMAVERA
(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)

DOUBLE BUBBLE
(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)