What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Giving Compass' Take:
• Charles R. Cross at YES! Magazine writes about the history of how Native American culture was intertwined with and helped shape rock n' roll as we know it today.
• How can we help bring more awareness to the historically rich culture of Native Americans?
It’s a guitar riff that’s only 30 seconds long and simple enough that Link Wray came up with it while playing at a sock hop. He repeated the riff several times when he recorded the 1958 single “Rumble.” That two minutes and 25 seconds of guitar nastiness inspired countless guitarists who followed and helped shift rock away from sock-hop chastity toward an edginess of danger. One of the many parts of the history of “Rumble” forgotten is that the song was banned from the airwaves for a time because it was feared this instrumental—with no words!—might incite youth violence. Steven Van Zandt, of the E Street Band, called “Rumble” “the theme song of juvenile delinquency.”
“Rumble” contains one of the killer riffs in all of rock ’n’ roll and essentially marks the invention of the power chord, but one of the secrets of the song’s history is that Link Wray was Native American. His ethnicity, like that of many Natives who made contributions to music, was left out of almost all his press. The documentary Rumble: The Indians That Rocked the World, which airs on PBS starting January 21, addresses the larger contribution Natives made to music. It’s an important story with many layers that involves both the human and cultural genocide that came with European conquest. The film showcases a lot of musical talent, though the legendary Wray is arguably only the fourth greatest Native guitar player—after Jesse Ed Davis (who played with Taj Mahal, Jackson Browne, and John Lennon), Robbie Robertson, and Jimi Hendrix.
Read the full article about how native culture helped shape rock n' roll by Charles R. Cross at YES! Magazine