The rock ‘n’ roll music scene has been predominantly white, male, and heterosexual. There aren’t many famous African American rock musicians. The ones we do know of are mostly blues singers like B.B. King or Bo Diddley, who weren’t exactly rockers – they just happened to be black and play the guitar. Moreover, the few famous black rock stars that have emerged have had a tough time getting their careers off the ground. Simply put: It’s been rough for African Americans in the world of rock music. To find out why, let’s take a look at some of the most prominent African-American artists from the world of rock music, their struggles and successes, and how they changed the game for everyone else who followed them.
The first big rock star we’re gonna look at is Jimi Hendrix. This guy is the ultimate example of what happens when you combine black music and rock music. You might not know this, but Hendrix wasn’t a fan of rock music until he started touring with a white group called The Animals. He’d been in a group called The Rocking Kings, but they didn’t get too far. The Animals were huge at the time, and Hendrix was the opening act. One night, the Animals’ lead singer went crazy on drugs and freaked out, and Hendrix got asked to fill in. He borrowed their guitar and blew everyone away. Meanwhile, the Animals’ guitar player was so impressed, that he offered to switch instruments with Hendrix. Hendrix went on to become one of the biggest rock stars of all time, and his sound was entirely different from what white rock musicians were doing at the time. Hendrix toured with a black rhythm and blues band called The Experience, which had a completely different sound from the white rock groups playing around the country. Hendrix was also the first rock star to wear his hair in an Afro. He managed to blend black music and white music and come up with a completely new sound that was his own.
Another one of the most famous black rock musicians is Ray Charles. Charles was a blind soul singer who grew up listening to gospel music. In the early sixties, he started crossing over into the world of rock music, and he had a huge influence on everyone from The Beatles to Stevie Wonder. He even covered a lot of rock songs, like his version of “What’d I Say,” which was inspired by an Alphonsus King song called “What’d I say, What’d I Say.” Charles toured with The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys, making him the first black artist to play with white artists on a regular basis. He was also the first black artist to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Stevie Wonder was a teen prodigy who started playing music and writing songs at a very young age. He was one of the first black musicians to write his own songs and not just cover other people’s music. Wonder’s sophomore album, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” was the first ever double album by a black artist. Wonder was a huge influence on Michael Jackson, and he went on to have a long and successful career as a musician. His Wonder Wheel album won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2017. These are just some of the most famous African American rock musicians from the rock era. Each of these musicians played a crucial role in bringing black music to the masses and bringing white music to black audiences. They were trailblazers and trendsetters who helped make rock music what it is today. The only question that remains is: Who will be the next one to do it?
This next black rock star has been called the “Godfather of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and he is Little Richard. Richard was a wild and crazy R & B singer who had a big influence on Jimi Hendrix. He played a huge part in bringing black music to white audiences in the fifties and sixties. Richard was one of the first musicians to sing, play, and act like a freak on stage. This was a huge deal at the time, because black musicians were expected to dress and act “respectable.” For example, Louis Armstrong, an extremely famous trumpeter and singer, always wore a tuxedo on stage. Richard frequently invaded the audience, leaping from one table to the next and climbing on top of the speakers. He wore outrageous costumes and makeup, and he was the first person to use a loudspeaker on stage, which allowed him to be even louder. He was also the first black musician to use the word “rock” in his music. His song “C’mon Everybody” was one of the first songs to use that word. He also was the first person to use the term “rock and roll.”
The final black rock musician we’re going to look at is BB King. King was an R & B guitarist who played a huge part in bringing black and white musicians together. He frequently toured with white artists, including The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and The Beatles, who were huge fans of King’s music. B.B. King was one of the most famous black musicians of the rock era, especially among white audiences. He was ranked number 12 in Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. In 1988, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. King’s style was completely different from anyone else’s at the time. He didn’t use any special effects or distortion when he played, and he played the same way every night. He was also one of the first musicians to play with a wireless guitar, which was a huge deal since most people were still using acoustic guitars at the time.
The few famous black rock stars that have emerged have had a tough time getting their careers off the ground. Simply put: It’s been rough for African Americans in the world of rock music. To find out why, let’s take a look at some of the most prominent African-American artists from the world of rock music, their struggles and successes, and how they changed the game for everyone else who followed them. It’s important to remember that these artists were not only trailblazers but also pioneers. They had to fight for respect and recognition in an industry that was not always welcoming to them. These musicians also helped pave the way for musicians of color in all genres. They showed that black musicians can be just as creative and talented as anyone else, and they can make just as good music.