The Story of America's First Integrated Rock-n-Roll Band


Non-Fiction - Autobiography
34 Pages
Reviewed on 08/29/2018
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Tracy Young for Readers' Favorite

The Story of America's First Integrated Rock-n-Roll Band by John La Torre begins with a young boy of Italian descent in South Philadelphia. Johnny grew up in a diverse neighborhood that was all about survival. His family ran a local poultry business and were known as good people by the rest of the community. Johnny learned at an early age to work hard and value time and money. He recalls the first guitar he owned and how he had to save fifty cents a week to buy it. Music was an integral part of young Johnny’s life and he embarked on a career that would see him become part of musical history. Follow his progress as he and his band mates rewrite American attitudes to integration.

This is a gem of a book, a small nugget of musical history that is enhanced by charming photos. As a music lover, I was surprised to learn that Johnny La Torre and the Rhythm Rockers were indeed America's first professional integrated Rock and Roll band as I had never heard of them. In their story, Johnny shows us how fickle the music industry can be. If only they had signed to RCA instead of Anthracite, they may have been huge stars. Maybe if they hadn’t been bumped from Bandstand, things may have worked out better. This, however, is not the integral part of the story; the Rhythm Rockers conquered the negative attitude to race and formed a piece of history. I enjoyed their story and have since listened to their music.