Entry Category: Arts - Starting with R

Rock and Roll Music

Although the roots of rock and roll music can be traced back much farther, the genre made its musical debut in the early 1950s with artists such as Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis, all of whom helped shape what rock music has become. The music of the 1950s gave way to the 1960s and the popularity of surf music, as well as the very significant “British Invasion.” Arkansas musicians played an important part in this burgeoning genre. In the mid-1960s, Little Rock (Pulaski County), along with many other mid-sized American cities, saw an explosion in the formation of garage bands, all of which began competing for performance spots at school, fraternity, and country club engagements. This excitement …

Rock Island Line, The

“The Rock Island Line” is a world-famous song—recorded by the likes of Johnny Cash, Harry Belafonte, and Grandpa Jones—the earliest known performances of which are two 1934 recordings made in Arkansas prisons. A tall tale in rhyme, the song’s subject is a train so fast that it arrives at its destination in Little Rock (at 8:49) before its departure from Memphis (at “half past nine”). The collectors responsible for the first recordings were an unlikely pair. John Lomax was a white, Mississippi-born college teacher already well known as a folksong collector, while Huddie Ledbetter was a black, Louisiana-born singer and guitar player just released from prison and soon to be even better known as “Leadbelly.” Arriving in Arkansas in late …

Rockabilly

Rockabilly, a musical genre that appeared in the mid-1950s, is an early form of rock and roll initially performed by white musicians from the mid-South. Several Arkansans became leading rockabilly songwriters and performers. A distinctly American phenomenon, rockabilly was strongly influenced by developments of the post–World War II period. These include the introduction of the single-play 45 rpm record, the early phases of the civil rights movement, and the increasing mobility and purchasing power of teenagers. Characterized by a blues structure and a moderately fast tempo, rockabilly music celebrated a world of cars, parties, fast living, and sexual relationships. Its use of slang, much of it from African-American origins, and its themes of rebellious youth and self-indulgence, caused disfavor in …

Rockport Cemetery

Established in 1851 and expanded for the first time around 1900, the Rockport Cemetery is the oldest burial ground in the Hot Spring County town of Rockport. The oldest sections of the cemetery were added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 28, 2002. The first settlers in the Rockport area arrived by the 1820s. A post office serving the community opened in 1837, and the settlement became the county seat in 1846. Never a large town, the community did have several churches, stores, and law offices by 1850. Some sources report that land for the establishment of a cemetery was given by John A. Miller in 1851. This is unlikely, as Miller was only fifteen years old …

Rodriguez, Dionicio

Dionicio Rodriguez, recognized as one of America’s foremost faux bois sculptors, created works that resembled wood, though made of concrete, with its peeling bark, wormholes, and signs of decay. Arkansas was a major beneficiary of his work, which was an outgrowth of a Mexican folk tradition known as el trabajo rustico (rustic work). Under the designation “The Arkansas Sculptures of Dionicio Rodriguez,” his Arkansas work was collectively listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 4, 1986. Dionicio Rodriguez was born in Toluca, Mexico, the son of Catarine Rodriguez; his birthdate is a matter of some dispute, usually stated as either April 11, 1891, or April 8, 1893. With little formal education, he began, at the age of …

Rolling Stones, Arrest of the

The July 5, 1975, lunch stop and subsequent arrest of Rolling Stones guitarists Ron Wood and Keith Richards in Fordyce (Dallas County) is fabled in the town, and the incident became a footnote in the police record of the English rock and roll band. The quintet had cultivated an outlaw image since its early 1960s inception. According to Arkansas native Bill Carter, the Rolling Stones’ attorney from 1973 to 1990, everywhere the Stones went in 1975, it was a challenge for authorities. Riot squads and narcotics units were common during the group’s twenty-eight-city, $13 million-grossing tour. On July 4, the Stones played Memphis, Tennessee. Richards and new member Wood decided to sightsee and drive with two others to their July …

Rosedale Plantation Barn

The Rosedale Plantation Barn is a hand-hewn log barn located near Arkadelphia (Clark County). Constructed around 1860, it is the largest known log barn in Clark County and possibly the state. It was moved from its original location southeast of Arkadelphia in 2002 and reassembled in its current location north of the city. The barn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2004. Rosedale Plantation was built by Joseph Allen Whitaker, who arrived in Clark County around 1855. Purchasing land in Manchester Township, which belonged to both Dallas and Clark counties during its history, Whitaker hired a number of carpenters to follow the plans by architect Madison Griffin. Along with a plantation house, a brick …

Rowland-Lenz House

The Rowland-Lenz House, located northeast of Benton (Saline County) on Highway 5, was listed on the National Register of Historic Properties on February 11, 2004. Originally built as a two-story dog-trot log house, its late nineteenth-century modifications make it an interesting example of Swiss/German-influenced construction applied over an existing log home. The house, built in 1838 by Thomas Rowland with slave labor, was occupied by the Rowland family until 1848. At that time, the house was rented by John Nelson and purchased by him in 1850. The Nelson family occupied the home from 1848 to 1873, when it was purchased by former Confederate colonel and circuit judge Jabez M. Smith upon Nelson’s death. Smith rented the home to his brother, …

Royal Theatre

The Royal Theatre on South Market Street in downtown Benton (Saline County) dates back to the early 1920s, making it one of the oldest theaters of its kind in the state. Although it no longer shows Hollywood films, the Royal remains a beloved landmark for the people of Saline County. It has been owned by a local family, a corporation, a celebrity, and, finally, a group of locals who took their name, the Royal Players, from the theater’s marquee. What is now the Royal Theatre began its life when Wallace Kauffman, a native of Princeton (Dallas County), moved to Benton in 1917. Kauffman, who had worked at a similar establishment in Fordyce (Dallas County), started working for Alice Wooten, owner …

Rucker House

The Rucker House in Bauxite (Saline County) is one of only two standing structures that date back to Bauxite’s early history as a company town, the other being the 1926 Bauxite Community Hall, which now houses the Bauxite Historical Museum. The Rucker House was built in 1903 by employees of what was then called the Pittsburgh Reduction Company and later became Alcoa for plant superintendent William Armour Rucker. Rucker and his family occupied the home until 1938. Since 1986, the Rucker House has been owned by the Bauxite Historical Association and Museum. The Rucker House, which was listed on the National Register on June 16, 1988, serves as a residence for the museum’s caretaker. William Armour Rucker was born on …

Rumph House

The Rumph House is a Craftsman-style home located in Camden (Ouachita County). Constructed in 1874 with Victorian details, the house was extensively remodeled in 1925. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 25, 2003. The house and accompanying four acres are also located in the Washington Street Historic District. The early details of the house are unknown. Dr. Junius Bragg lived in the home with his family in the late nineteenth century. In 1899, his daughter, Helen Bragg Gaughan, married in the home. Early in the twentieth century, Bragg sold the home to Samuel and Mary Green. In 1904, the Greens sold the home to Garland Rumph, the son of Dr. John Benjamin Rumph and …

Rush, Bobby

aka: Emmett Ellis Jr.
Bobby Rush, known as the “King of the Chitlin’ Circuit,” is an award-winning blues artist whose music also parlays elements of southern soul, funk, and rap into a genre he calls “folkfunk.” Bobby Rush was born Emmett Ellis Jr. on November 10, 1935, near Homer, Louisiana, to Emmett and Mattie Ellis; however, the 1940 census lists him as three years old. The son of a minister, Rush was influenced by his father’s guitar and harmonica playing, and he first experimented with music by tapping on a sugar-cane syrup bucket and playing a broom-and-wire diddley bow. In 1947, his family moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where his music career began. He headed a band at a local juke joint behind a sawmill, …

Russell Jail

The Russell Jail, located off Elm Street in Russell (White County), is a one-story, reinforced concrete structure built around 1935 with apparent assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief agency. The Russell Jail was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 23, 1992. The small railroad and farming community of Russell was apparently in need of a jail during the Great Depression and turned to the WPA, one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal agencies, for funding around 1935, though no record of the project exists in WPA project files at the Arkansas State Archives. The Russell Jail is one-room building constructed of steel rod–reinforced cast concrete, including a concrete roof and foundation. …

Russellville Public Library

aka: Heritage Hall
The Russellville Public Library, located at 114 East 3rd Street in Russellville (Pope County), is Colonial Revival–style brick-veneer building constructed in 1936–1937 with assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 20, 2000. Russellville’s efforts to create a public library began in 1885 when the Excelsior Club, a men’s civic group, raised money to acquire a small collection of books that could be checked out for five cents per book per week, with additional books purchased through the proceeds. This campaign was augmented in 1889 when A. E. Lee, Russellville’s school superintendent, bought books for the high school and added these to the collection. …

Rwake

Rwake is a sludge/doom/experimental metal band based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The band, originally called Wake, formed in 1996 and consisted of Kris Graves on guitar, Jeff Morgan on drums, Chris (C. T.) Terry on vocals, and Aaron Mills on bass. The band added the R to its name when it realized that another band had already claimed the name Wake. The original line-up played its first show on March 15, 1997, in Batesville (Independence County). Rwake melds elements of a number of metal subgenres including sludge, doom, hardcore, and death metal. Due to the band members’ fondness for many styles of music, especially southern music, subtle influences from artists such as Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams (as well as …