In Living Color: 20 Important Black Rockers Past and Present
Jimi Hendrix plugging in his electric guitar -- that's black power. Rock music was born from rhythm and blues; more than half of the original inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were African-American. And despite detours from soul to hip-hop, black musicians have never left rock 'n' roll. February is Black History Month in North America, but these rockers deserve celebration every day of the year.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis all loved Sister Rosetta, a gospel singer who grew up performing in tent revivals and played guitar like she was possessed by the Holy Spirit. Her version of 'Rock Me' (1938) is often nominated as the first rock 'n' roll song.
If the Fat Man looked like the young Elvis, he might have had another nickname -- the King of Rock 'n' Roll. "Rock 'n' roll was here a long time before I came along," Elvis himself once said. "Let's face it -- I can't sing like Fats Domino can."
If you were looking for another name for rock 'n' roll, as John Lennon once said, "you might call it Chuck Berry." Other guitar slingers, notably Berry's Chess Records labelmate Bo Diddley, had styles of their own, but Berry's combination of masterly riffs and teenage storytelling made rock an art form. Roll over, Beethoven!
Two decades before Elton John and a half century before Lady Gaga, Richard Penniman was the flying saucer of rock 'n' roll -- a dazzling alien who came to pitch camp. When he sang "Awopbopaloobop, a