ASK ALEX: How did Rock and Roll become White and how did the Rolling Stones – a band in love with black music – help lead the way to rock’s segregated future?

Rock and Roll in its evolution was coded more white than black even though lots of rock and roll bands and musicians are of African -American descent. For example Little Richard and Chuck Berry through to the Dominoes, Ike Turner, and Howlin’ Wolf, rock and roll’s founding figures were African American.

Hamilton’s book states “ ... rock’s long evolution from a raucous offshoot of black party music to a lavishly produced, aesthetically ambitious, and securely white art form “ It'sa story of the forced marriage of musical and racial ideology.”

Fans of rock and critics have found what they believe to be evidence of a / the “whitening” in rock and roll , for example blackface minstrels has been a problem in the past which is definitely disturbing. Also the feeling that black culture and sounds were stolen by white artists such as Elvis , the Beatles and others , “stole “ or were inspired by Chuck Berry and artists alike without crediting them so they could also grow.

Rock was left behind by the African American community in the 1960’s when the civil rights movement was at its core. Radical expressions of black power and pride was creating its own culture amount the community and rock wasn’t needed for this to be expressed.

The African American community found its own culture and pathways through the expression of oppression. Things like Hip Hop / R and B, Breakdancing and Graffiti were formed. Artists such as Elvis, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and all the other white stars that fill the classic rock pantheon have been accused of stealing black sound and have been labelled as African Masks.

There is also a degree of proof of support for civil rights movements and being aware of problems in the industry. "a critical aesthetic that takes the (white) rock music of the 1960s and ’70s as the mean from which all other pop forms deviate."

Though some rock critics certainly ignored black artists outright ” written from Hamilton's point of view explaining that black artists were ignored in the rock scene.

Mike Gershman dismissed “de-natured Negroes” who had “learned only too well … the value of getting Top 40 airplay,” in the process abandoning “the Negro blues which was the most honest and meaningful contribution of black people.”

This is trying to box in black people to only being able to make blues music and is both ignorant and unfair to label them as only one sound and one genre as they have proven to excel in most elements of music due to the sheer creative culture and expression through music.


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