When you think of early Rock & Roll bands you (and probably your parents and grandparents too) would think of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, etc. and justly so because of the individual impact each of these prominent musicians made on the music world, but if we dig deeper in the roots of Rock we can see these roots grew from African-American beginnings in Motown soul and rhythm & blues.
The Beatles are, possibly, the most famous rock band that there ever was, but both John Lennon and Paul McCartney have owed some of their influence to, the grandfather of Rock & Roll himself, Chuck Berry. Of course, 'Johnny B. Goode' is an all-time rock favorite that almost every music lover knows. It was a hit in the late 50s and still is today. One of the first pioneers of rock music, Berry was one of the firsts to show off his post-blues style guitar solos, and of course his showmanship with the famous Chuck Berry one-legged hop. John Lennon even got to perform a few songs with Chuck Berry on The Mike Douglas show in 1972, and made the statement "If you had to try to give Rock & Roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry." Berry was known as one of the first musicians ever to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 when it first opened.
Little Richard is of course a huge name in the music world of rhythm & blues and soul as well, but he also had a big impression on the early starts of rock history. Little Richard's influence stems across both boundaries of songwriting, backbone rhythm, and distinct vocalization for his time. It's said that Brain Epstein, the manager for The Beatles, persuaded Don Arden, Little Richard's manager at the time, to let the Beatles open for Richard when The Beatles were still starting out, Richard taught The Beatles his personal showmanship and Paul McCartney some vocalization skills. Little Richard has greatly influenced other stars as well as Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, and a little known fact is that Jimi Hendrix was Little Richard's guitarist in his backup band The Upsetters, before Hendrix's rise to fame.
There are many many more black musicians that have helped shape Rock & Roll music as we know it today who were prominent in their time, but not as widely talked about like we Chuck Berry and Little Richard to have been, but we still know their songs. You have 'Twist and Shout' by the Isley Brothers, originally a black music trio (and also at one point Jimi Hendrix played with them as well), and also 'Money (That's What I Want)' originally by Motown musician Barrett Strong, covered by The Beatles, and then covered by The Flying Lizards later.
My point being with this is that there are a lot of black musicians that deserve a lot more credit when it comes to the building of the musical genre that defines a great proportion of music history. When you look at Rock most people just see The Beatles and The Rolling Stones fame and popularity, which is completely justified as they are amazing bands that also changed Rock & Roll forever, but in the history of Rock & Roll music black musicians must not be left out of the conversation and forgotten because their contribution to the genre has influenced so many in its time.
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