The Treniers

The Treniers

The Treniers were an American musical group led by identical twins Cliff and Claude Trenier, with James Johnson on base. Active since the 1940s, they played a cross between swing and early rock n' roll. Though their sound is more swing influenced, the Treniers incorporated a thumping backbeat and copious songs that included the words "rock" and "roll" - "Rocking on Sunday Night" and "It Rocks! It Rolls! It Swings!", for example, and in the 40's were already playing "Rockin' Is Our Bizness," which was a reworded version of Jimmie Lunceford's "Rhythm Is Our Business" of the 1930s (the Trenier twins got their start playing in Lunceford's band). They were also known for the humorous content of many of their songs, and their on stage acrobatics were seen as precursors to the wild antics of many later rock and roll groups.

In the 1950s, they moved closer towards an R&B influenced sound, but were unable to weather the influx of rock and roll. Nonetheless the group was considered a strong influence on bands such as their contemporaries Bill Haley and His Comets, and they were in fact one of the first to record Haley's "Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie". [] [] [] [] (One of the Trenier brothers would later claim in an interview in "Blue Suede News" magazine that he was responsible for Haley deciding to record rock and roll; this account is disputed.)

One of the first times rock and roll appeared on national television was in May 1954 when the Treniers appeared on the "Colgate Comedy Hour", hosted by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. During the playing of their songs, Martin and Lewis participated in the antics, and when the drummer got up and stepped aside, Jerry Lewis sat down and played drums for one song.

The group appeared in several films in the 1950s including "The Girl Can't Help It" and "Don't Knock the Rock" (which also featured Haley), and continued to perform as recently as the late 1990s.

The group released the song "Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song)" about Giants center fielder, Willie Mays, which included some dialogue by the Hall-of-Famer himself. The song is included on the soundtrack to Ken Burns 1994 documentary "Baseball".

As of 2008, surviving member Milt Trenier still performs semiweekly at Chicago-area restaurants.

Film Appearances

* "Don't Knock the Rock" (1956)
* "The Girl Can't Help It" (1956)
* "Calypso Heat Wave" (1957)
* "Juke Box Rhythm" (1959)

External links

* [ Milt Trenier's Homepage]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.