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Jewish Americans in the golden age of Rock and Roll

Photo by CC Flickr user mtarvainen, resized and recropped

If you look back at the origins of rock music — or Rock and Roll, as it was known in the 1950s — you hear that the new sound borrowed elements from gospel, rhythm & blues, and country.

None of those musical styles, or the Southern focus of early Rock ‘n’ Roll, brings to mind Jewish performers. But Bay Area rock historian Richie Unterberger knows that they have been a major part of this unstoppable form of popular music. 

By "Jewish rock and roll," Unterberger says he doesn't mean music sung in Hebrew, or with Jewish lyrics – he's talking about performers with Jewish roots. 

UNTERBERGER: A lot of people don't realize that a lot of these performers and writers and producers were and are Jewish.

Richie Unterberger will be delivering his lecture "Blue Suede Jews" at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco Friday, July 28th at 1:00. 

Click the audio player above to hear more. 

This interview originally aired in 2013.