The late ‘50s and all of the ‘60s in Rock Music has been swept away. Not the music, just the artists and their legacies.
As time passes we seem to be rewriting history, and not just political history.
Oh yes, we do that all the time.
Look how we’ve spent centuries honoring heroes who are jerks. Guys like Christopher Columbus and Andrew Jackson. It’s not their fault. We have a tendency to rewrite history.
And now I’m worried by things I read about Rock and Roll.
I’m seeing certain white artists and bands being lauded as creators of music they didn’t create.
There is nothing wrong with being influenced by other musicians. Our newest Nobel Literature Prize winner, Bob Dylan, was influenced by black music.
Do you remember Dylan’s 1963 huge song, Blowing in the Wind?
That song was “covered” by dozens of artists and still is.
Would you like to hear where his melody and influence came from?
Back in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, Paul Robeson wrote and sang “No More Auction Block for Me.”
Listen to the melody and hear Dylan’s influence of Blowing in the Wind.
“No More Auction Block for Me”
In the late ‘50s I had to endure the syrupy voice of Pat Boone singing songs that had been recorded by black artists but white radio stations in the North, especially Indiana, refused to play them. Songs like “Tutti Frutti,” “Ain’t That a Shame” “I Almost Lost my Mind.”
Little Richard wrote and recorded Tutti Frutti in 1955 but could only be heard on the few black station in the south.
I was forced to hear a cover of that song by freaking Pat Boone. Ohhhh.
In 1957, the original recording by Little Richard was finally released in the white markets and he became a star.
Then Elvis recorded Tutti Frutti, the Beatles and dozens of other groups also made millions off of his song.
Ivory Joe Hunter recorded “I almost Lost My Mind” in 1950. A fantastic version that only a few radio stations playing “black” musicians released. An incredible singer, an incredible song. Pat Boone butchered it and it was Number One for weeks.
Fats Domino wrote and recorded “Ain’t That a Shame” in 1950. Very few lucky people got to hear it. It was Pat Boone’s first hit. It sold millions. Pat Boone was refusing to record it because he wanted to sing “Isn’t that a Shame.”
Ohhhh. I want to scream.
Of course, later on, the stations re-released Fats original version and we musicians finally knew what it was supposed to sound like.
Marvin Gaye’s “I heard it through the Grapevine” was Number One on the charts in 1968. In 1970 Credence Clearwater Revival re-recorded the song. It sold less and didn’t chart as high or as long. More importantly it wasn’t near as great, groovy or soulful. Yet in many recent polls by radio stations, the Credence version is listed as the 662nd greatest rock song of all time. What?
Yes, there has been a serious whitening of rock history.
Black music inspired the Beatles and the Stones. The Stones were always a band trying to be Muddy Waters and told the world those very words. In an interview in 1964, Mick Jagger told “Melody Maker” magazine, “We have always favored the music of what we consider the R&B greats—Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, and so on—and we would like to think that we are helping to give the fans of these artists what they want.”
In another article the entire band was asked to name their influences. They named, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker.
Because of their incredible longevity, the Rolling Stones have become “The Establishment” so to speak. They never intended nor wanted that. It just happened.
Yet the rock and music magazines of today are rewriting history.
The black musicians of rock, like Jimmy Hendrix (who was considered a freak because black guys weren’t supposed to play lead guitar) shaped the worlds of Van Halen and his tribe of followers. After Hendrix died, the ‘60s rock scene started shifting. The greatest achievement in radio rock was the Detroit Motown (black) recordings that were able to cross-over Rhythm and Blues to Pop.
It’s my grandchildren and their future kids that need to know the truth of Rock and Roll…the true history of Rock and Roll.
Hail to our Rock and Roll true heroes.
Black musicians did much more than invent Rap and Hip Hop.
I know because I was there.