Move over, Memphis and Cleveland.

Louisiana’s rock ‘n’ roll roots run deep from New Orleans to Shreveport to Ferriday, and Rep. Tanner Magee wants the state to lay claim to what he contends is rock ‘n’ roll’s true birthplace.

Magee’s House Bill 889 would create America’s Rock and Roll Museum in New Orleans aligned with the legendary Dew Drop Inn hotel and nightclub on LaSalle Street.

Black musicians stayed and performed at the Dew Drop from the 1940s until it closed in the 1970s.

“You could argue the Dew Drop is where the birth of rock ’n’ roll took place,” said Preston Lauterbach, author of “The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ’n’ Roll” (W. W. Norton). “The New Orleans culture mixed with the touring artists who were coming through. That’s what really made it a special place.”

Elvis performing on the Louisiana Hayride stage at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium.

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The Dew Drop Inn is being renovated by New Orleans developer Curtis Doucette Jr., who this month closed on the project’s financing and has begun initial demolition and remediation. Doucette estimates that the cost to restore The Dew Drop Inn as a boutique hotel and music venue will be $10 million. He hopes to finish the project by Mardi Gras of next year, although he admitted that was an optimistic goal.

A second measure from Magee, House Bill 895, would create the LaSalle Cultural Corridor for neighborhood development, which would be anchored by the museum and Dew Drop Inn. 

The signage of the historic hotel and nightclub the Dew Drop Inn on LaSalle Street in Central City. Photographed on Friday, July 23, 2021 in New Orleans, LA.

“This has been a dream of mine for years,” Magee said in an interview with USA Today Network. “We shouldn’t let other cities claim our rightful legacy and profit from it without telling our own story.”

Magee, a rock ‘n’ roll history buff with a dizzying array of albums at his home in Houma, notes New Orleans favorite son Fats Domino recorded “The Fat Man” in 1949, two years before Ike Turner’s “Rocket 88” was cut at Memphis’ Sun Records studio.

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