It was the 50’s. Lisbon was a port to American ships that brought with them Rock’n’Roll, occupying all jukeboxes in bars and clubs of the lowest prostitution and gambling zones in town. The arrival of imported styles and cultures, specially American, changed traditional national songs and, slowly, Rock became the music of the youth. Inspired by American movies, young rockabilly groups began to pop up (or “teddy boys” as the press labeled them). They wore clothes, combed their hair and behaved like Elvis Presley or the “Wild One” Marlon Brando. At Parque Mayer, Joaquim Costa listened to Rock’n’Roll for the first time. It was Bill Haley & His Comets. “I reached there and saw two guys with a guitar inserting ten cents coins into the machine. I listened to that and was overwhelmed. It was like an shot of adrenaline into my body. Bill Haley changed my life”.
He immediately abandoned a promising football career to embrace that new sound. He went all over Lisbon looking for Elvis, the “wild singer”, in the jukeboxes. Though Bill Haley was his favorite at that time, and till today, Elvis became his model. Soon he became the “Campolide Elvis”, singing in some kind of improvised English to his friends and some naval soldiers. He refused to sing in Portuguese because in his opinion “Rock’n’Roll must be sung in its original language, even if you don’t know a word in English. I put together ‘Rock’n’Roll’, ‘Baby’, ‘Tonight’ and made something”. When Estrela’s Market opened, it soon became a place where he and his friends could have some drinks and chat by the jukeboxes. They then decided to start a band and play for some pocket money. With a rebel and irreverent attitude they convinced the director, the producer Leitão de Barros, that they should be the Market’s resident musicians. Described by advertisements as “Rock’n’Roll Kings”, Joaquim Costa and his “Estrela’s Guys” sang and played hit covers every night, from “Be Bop a Lula” to “Rip It Up”.
Later, they decided to record some tunes in Rádio Graça, a small local radio station built up with donations and old equipment. With a punk attitude, hardly knowing how to play, scarce money and no time at all, they recorded one of their wildest versions of “Rip it Up” and “Tutti Frutti”. On the label, he wrote “Joaquim Costa and his Comets”. This was the first Rock’n’Roll record made in Portugal. Nevertheless, the only existing copy had disappeared – possibly in a fire at the Valentim de Carvalho studios. The only survivors were the acetates, which even Joaquim Costa deemed lost. Many years later, he himself found one of those at a local flea market. Those are the sources for this edition, proving that in the 50’s Portugal was already into Rock’n’Roll”.
1. Rip It Up (1959)
2. Shake Baby Rock’N’Roll (Bonus Track 1978)
3. Baby Sixteen Rock (Bonus Track 1978)
1. Tutti Frutti (1959)
2. Shake Shake My Baby (Bonus Track 1978)