Gary James' Interview With Milt Trenier Of
Before Rock 'n' Roll there was Rhythm 'n' Blues. Before Rhythm 'n' Blues there was Swing. The Treniers were one of those groups that fused the style of all those musical genres into what they call "Hot Jump Blues". The Treniers appeared on all the top variety shows of the day, including The Ed Sullivan Show, The Steve Allen Show and The Colgate Comedy Hour with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. They appeared in such Classic Rock films as Don't Knock The Rock, The Girl Can't Help It and Calypso Heat Wave. In 1951 The Treniers had a Top Ten hit with the song "Go Go Go". Milt Trenier told us what it was like to be a part of a Rock 'n' Roll group when the term Rock 'n' Roll hadn't been coined yet.
Q - The public has always been led to believe that Alan Freed coined the term "Rock 'n' Roll". What I find interesting is that in 1949 The Treniers were known as The Rockin' Rollin' Treniers and you even had a song called "It Rocks! It Rolls! It Swings!" All of this was before Alan Freed. The Treniers should really be getting more credit or a whole lot of credit for something in music they haven't been credited for.
A - We were using the term Rock And Roll years before all the Rockers appeared.
Q - You made your debut at The Streamline Cafe in 1947. What kind of a place was that? Were you a solo act or part of a band?
A - That was when I was still in high school and my first paycheck was at The Streamline Cafe.
Q - In 1954 you joined your brothers and became a member of The Treniers. You were on one of the most popular shows of the day, The Ed Sullivan Show!
A - Our first network TV show was The Jackie Gleason Show.
Q - How good of a job did RCA Records do for The Treniers?
A - Our manager handled all of our business deals and promotion.
Q - Speaking of RCA, did you ever cross paths with Elvis?
A - We met Elvis later in his career.
Q - You were performing in Wildwood, New Jersey the same time Bill Haley was there. Did Bill Haley see your act? How were the crowds in Wildwood for your shows? Did you really pack 'em in?
A - We were the hottest act in Wildwood. Bill Haley was in a Country / Western group playing across the street from us and came over to see us. We were packed every night.
Q - You owned a club or performed in a club called Yvette's. Do you still perform there?
A - No. Yvette's has been closed for many years now.
Q - In 1959 you struck out on your own. Why did you leave the group? Was there a problem? Did you feel you could make more money as a solo act?
A - There was no problem. In fact, my brothers gave me advice on how to do a single and I was always welcome to come back to the group.
Q - Are you still working today?
A - I am still working at private parties and senior centers.