James A. Cosby

Devil's Music, Holy Rollers and Hillbillies

How America Gave Birth to Rock and Roll

McFarland 2016

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in HistoryNew Books in MusicNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Popular CultureNew Books Network April 18, 2017 James Stancil

Do you love Rock and Roll or is Rock and Roll music dead? Are you old enough to have put any money in a...

Do you love Rock and Roll or is Rock and Roll music dead? Are you old enough to have put any money in a jukebox to hear your favorite song, watched American Bandstand, or spent any hours viewing music videos on MTV? It has been said that music can truly bring people together. Rock music today is universal and its popular history is well known. Yet few know how and why it really came about. Taking a fresh look at events long overlooked or misunderstood, Devil’s Music, Holy Rollers and Hillbillies: How America Gave Birth to Rock and Roll (McFarland, 2016) tells how some of the most disenfranchised people in a free and prosperous nation strove to make themselves heard and changed the world.

So where did it all begin? Not where you may think. Describing the genesis of rock and roll, author James A. Cosby covers everything from its deep roots in the Mississippi Delta and The Blues to key early figures, like deejay “Daddy-O” Dewey Phillips and gospel music star Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Also discussed are the importance of country music performers and the influence of the so-called holy rollers of the Pentecostal church who became crucial performers in Rock and Roll’s early years –artists like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.

James A. Cosby is an attorney by day and entertainment writer, book author, and music enthusiast by night. He is a regular contributor on pop culture matters for PopMatters.com as well as other media outlets. Cosby resides in Philadelphia, a great music city, and is currently conducting research for his second Rock and Roll book about the further history of the music genre from the early 1960s through the present day. Devil’s Music, Holy Rollers and Hillbillies: How America Gave Birth to Rock and Roll is his first book.


James Stancil is an independent scholar, freelance journalist, and the President and CEO of Intellect U Well, Inc. a Houston-area non-profit dedicated to increasing the joy of reading and media literacy in young people.

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