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Early OKC Rock and Roll pioneer talks about the first ever shows in 1956

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Tennessee' might be a song from the 1940's but Kip Curtis still has his chops when he plays in on the piano.

Pick any other song and it's not hard to imagine that he could really rock.

He chuckles when recalling his early playing days, "I was just a stupid teenager going with the flow."

Curtis still plays gigs once in a while.

He still hires out to people who might remember him from a band he formed 60 years ago called the 'Teen Toppers'.

Curtis says, "I didn't think of it as a rock and roll band but the guy who called it that was this MC named John Stone. When he hired us I said, okay that's fine."

They were high school kids then, Kip on keyboard, Eddie Keffer on guitar, Richard Crisler on bass, T.J. Johnson on sax, Kent Smith blowing horn, and Johnny Johnson on the skins.

They played local dances.

Kip wore a 'duck tail' haircut and blue suede shoes all before Elvis Presley made them popular.

Radio station KOCY was the only place on the dial to hear Rock and Roll that winter.

Curtis agrees.

"It pretty much was," he says. "I don't know of anyone else doing it."

Disc Jockey and promoter John Stone picked them to play some of the first rock and roll shows in the city at the Harber Theater downtown.

Kip and his Toppers didn't know what rock stars were because the term hadn't been invented.

The Toppers and another group, a black band of 'doo-woppers' called The Dukes played to standing room only crowds after whatever movie happened to be playing.

"They were selling," says Kip. "They were selling really good."

The Teen Toppers broke up when Kip went to the Navy and the rest of the band graduated high school.

Kip can still play.

he keeps a few things from his days as a Topper, and he keeps his fingers loose so he can reach back to those days 60 years ago when he helped introduce a whole city to rock and roll.

Curtis now plays regular gigs at nursing homes in the Oklahoma City area.

For more information you can email him at