THROUGH THE LENS: Legends of Rock and Roll
John Fogerty - Photo by Jim Brock
Just as they did 60+ years ago during the initial roots music revival, many today feel that rock and roll is the anthesis of roots music. To the contrary, it is the synthesis of roots music. Rock is the magic gumbo that includes blues, zydeco, R&B, swing jazz, country, and gospel, first propelled by the electric guitars of T-Bone Walker, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Muddy Waters, Fay “Smitty” Smith (of Ernest Tubbs’ Texas Troubadours and first to play the electric guitar on the Grand Ole Opry), Ike Turner, and many others.
Many of the artists featured here in ND — such as Jason Isbell, Drive-by Truckers, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and the many “acoustic” artists whose bands prominently feature electric guitars — for all intents and purposes could easily pass as rock acts.
Books have been written on the subject, but suffice it to say that it is generally held that the synthesis we call “rock” came to fruition in March 1951 in Memphis when ”Rocket 88″ was recorded. It’s credited to Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats, but it was Ike Turner and His Kings of Rhythm who recorded it. The rest is, as they say, history.
I submit that the history of rock and roll is intertwined with the history of roots music. The most popular rock band ever, The Beatles, specifically based their music on American country and R&B. That they, and others, ultimately took their music elsewhere serves only to reinforce the importance of roots music in popular culture, not to deny or undercut it.
There’s also been a rekindling of interest from the current generation of music fans in artists iconic in the rock world such as Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Elton John, and Fleetwood Mac, who have have recently toured, selling out venues along the way. Many ND photographers also attended those shows and took some fabulous photos.
So, let’s begin 2023 with a bang — a bigger bang, as the very roots-influenced Rolling Stones would say — by featuring photos of rock and roll legends. Many, if not most, have not been featured in this column before, so I urge to scroll through them all.
Click on any photo below to view the gallery as a full-size slideshow.