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Title: The Original Rock 'n' Roll Guitar God Was Actually a Goddess
Source: Reason
URL Source: https://reason.com/2017/12/15/the-o ... al-rock-n-roll-guitar-god-was/
Published: Dec 15, 2017
Author: Jesse Walker
Post Date: 2019-09-21 09:09:12 by Deckard
Ping List: *Music*     Subscribe to *Music*
Keywords: None
Views: 358
Comments: 8

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(Open Culture)

Rock 'n' roll was born and baptized in a smoky nightclub somewhere, but the baby was conceived in a church. Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard were all raised Pentecostal, and their sounds were shaped by the raucous gospel music they grew up with. And Chuck Berry cribbed his duckwalk from a gospel singer called Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whose guitar style helped lay the groundwork for rock.

Tharpe was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this week, alongside such worthies as Nina Simone and the Cars. If you find yourself doubting that this honor should be bestowed on a woman who was already in her forties when "Jailhouse Rock" hit the charts, watch this old clip from the NBC show TV Gospel Time, originally broadcast in 1962. For about a minute and 20 seconds, it may seem like an ordinary gospel performance. And then Sister Tharpe starts soloing:

A century ago, the early Pentecostals' multiracial revivals and ecstatic forms of worship sparked a moral panic. In the 1950s, rock 'n' roll provoked a similar reaction. Watching Tharpe play, you may start to see the outlines of more than one hidden continuity.

Just about all the founding fathers of rock 'n' roll—Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash—were Rosetta Tharpe fans. Gayle Wald's Tharpe bio Shout, Sister, Shout! quotes Jerry Lee Lewis falling over with praise for the woman: "I mean, she's singing religious music, but she is singing rock 'n' roll. She's…shakin', man….She jumps it. She's hitting that guitar, playing that guitar and she is singing. I said, 'Whoooo.' Sister Rosetta Tharpe." They say the Devil has all the best tunes, but he had to learn them somewhere.

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)

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Begin Trace Mode for Comment # 5.

#3. To: Deckard (#0)

Deck, thanks for posting. I am like Hank, never heard of her before. In the video posted, looks like she is playing a white SG.

Stoner  posted on  2019-09-21   20:01:52 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


#5. To: Stoner, Hank Rearden (#3)

Deck, thanks for posting. I am like Hank, never heard of her before.

I accidentally stumbled upon this while checking out Reason Magazine's Friday A/V Club video archives.

I'd heard the name before, but thought she was just a Blues singer from the 50's lin the same vein as Big Mama Thornton or Etta James, had no idea she played guitar.

In the video posted, looks like she is playing a white SG.

I think you may be right. In the still picture, does that guitar look like a Les Paul to you?

Deckard  posted on  2019-09-21   21:13:16 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


Replies to Comment # 5.

#7. To: Deckard (#5) (Edited)

In the video posted, looks like she is playing a white SG.

I think you may be right. In the still picture, does that guitar look like a Les Paul to you?

If you click on YouTube to open it up there, the poster's notes say:

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Up Above My Head (I hear music in the air) unknown performance date (appox. around the 1960's) on the show TV Gospel Time with the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church Choir an amazing performance with a Gibson Les Paul SG custom with (polar white finish?)

Even though I have a MexiStrat, I don't know shit about guitars and having tried over and over I can't play a note. My fingers are too short to work the fretboard properly and I don't have the innate talent to make them work anyway. So I content myself by listening and collecting stuff from those who do.

Hank Rearden  posted on  2019-09-23 10:50:08 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


End Trace Mode for Comment # 5.

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