Whole Lotta Shakin’ (Public Radio International)
Taking its title from Jerry Lee Lewis’ 1957 smash, Whole Lotta Shakin’ is a 10-hour history and celebration of rockabilly, the raucous blend of hillbilly and blues that enjoyed only a brief heyday in the mid-1950s but continues to influence rock ‘n’ rollers to this day. Producer Alex Gillespie spent months traversing the South to record interviews with more than 100 rockabilly pioneers: disc jockeys and record producers as well as surviving singers and musicians. Excerpts from their reminiscences, along with narration by neo-rockabilly Rosie Flores, annotate more than 200 tunes, from definitive classics such as Elvis Presley’s “Baby, Let’s Play House” and Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” to oddball obscurities such as Lucky Boggs’ “Drillin’ Rig Boogie” and Joe Clay’s “Ducktail.” Cuts by the likes of Jimmie Rodgers, Little Walter, Hank Williams and Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup signify rockabilly’s dual taproots. Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash and the piano-pounding Lewis each get full-episode retrospectives. Oft-overlooked women of rockabilly, including Wanda Jackson and Janis “The Female Elvis” Martin, get their due in an hour called “Fujiyama Mamas.” For putting rockabilly into sociological and historical context without sacrificing its “Go, cat, go!” spontaneity, Whole Lotta Shakin’ receives a Peabody Award.
Executive producer and Writer: Alexis Gillespie. PRI program manager: Heidi Schultz. Web designer: Katherine Diepold. Sound editor: Suraya Mohamed. Historical advisors: Michael Bertrand, Mary Bufwack, Kathleen Hudson, Tracey Laird, David Sanjek, Kim Simpson. Host: Rosie Flores.