A small crowd gathered Monday morning along the shoulder of a stretch of state Highway 49 in Monroe County outside Brinkley to officially dedicate the Louis Jordan Memorial Highway, which runs from Brinkley to Marvell.
“Arkansas Highways are truly the backbone of tourism and economic development in the state,” Arkansas Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Danny Straessle told us last week. “We are pleased to continue our support for promoting the rich music heritage found among our more than 16,400 miles.”
Brinkley native Louis Jordan had more than 50 Top 10 hits during the 1940s, influenced the likes of Ray Charles, Chuck Berry and James Brown, and is considered a major forefather of rock ’n’ roll and R&B music. Jordan, a vocalist, saxophonist, songwriter and bandleader, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
State Rep. Chris Richey (D-Helena-West Helena), who sponsored the legislation for the signage last session, noted that the previous day had marked Jordan’s 110th birthday. Also part of the legislation: signs memorializing Rosetta Tharpe, Johnny Cash and Levon Helm.