Charley Patton, Gil Scott-Heron and Kraftwerk thread the Roots to Present Rock ‘N’ Roll needle



Michael Ochs ArchivesCharley patton

Charley patton

Charley Patton died in 1939, long before the strains of “Rocket 88” or “Rock Around The Clock” were first pressed into vinyl, but the influence of the Father of the Delta Blues on the bluesmen of Robert Johnson and Howlin ‘Wolf and got passed through Chuck Berry to Jimi Hendrix to Gary Clark Jr. is as close as possible to planting the seed that grew in the rock.

He was born near Bolton, Mississippi, and grew up as the son of a sharecropper on the Will Dockery plantation in the Delta, where he began watching and learning from older guitarists who came and went to the closed. He was performing at the age of 7 and soon wrote his own compositions, developing a unique style and performing at local juke joints and at home parties.

Patton’s raw, husky voice was accompanied by a polyrhythmic playing style that could sound like multiple instruments and a hard tapping on the body of the guitar, all mixed together to create a new Delta sound.

While traveling through Mississippi, he learned to play not only blues, but also folk, country and gospel music. With an extensive repertoire, he traveled to Richmond, Indiana, and to his Gennett Recording Studio where, in 1929, he recorded a voluminous amount of music which was released in 78 rpm by Paramount Records.

But it wasn’t just his recorded production that caught the attention of other artists who attempted to emulate Patton – his stage performance and showmanship included moves like kneeling and playing guitar. behind his back.

According to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Patton’s songs “capture the pain of country screams (” Oh Death “), the joy of vaudeville (” A Spoonful Blues “), the humor of ragtime (” Shake It and Break It “), and gospel justice (” I will not be moved “). As a symbol of success and professionalism in his community, Patton’s story debunks the oft-told myth of the oppressed but mystically bluesman gifted.

Patton’s recording career would last only five years before his death on April 28, 1934, with his grave unmarked until Rock Hall of Famer John Fogerty had paid for a suitable gravestone bearing the inscription “The Voice of the Delta – The Foremost Performer of Early Mississippi Blues whose songs have become the cornerstones of American music.

A collection of recordings by Patton, The Definitive Charley Patton, was released by Catfish Records in 2001. Screamin ‘and Hollerin’ the Blues: The Worlds of Charley Patton, a box set of Patton’s recorded works, won three Grammy Awards in 2003.

Patton’s song “Pony Blues” (1929) was included by the National Recording Preservation Board in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2006.

Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-HeronErica EchenbergGil Scott-Heron

With recent launches of private space projects by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and Virgin’s Richard Branson, Gil Scott-Heron’s “Whitey On The Moon” – written in 1970 – seems more relevant than ever.

But tracks like “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, “Johannesburg” and “No Knock” were – and still are – the soundtracks of the movements. “No Knock” was released in 1972, but last year it returned as an anthem for Black Lives Matter after the police murder of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.

“For me, ‘No Knock’, which is about the police, is also for Breonna Taylor,” Scott-Heron’s son Rumal Rackley says of his father’s legacy. “There are a lot of his songs that are obviously written for the time he wrote them, but a lot of them apply today. I wouldn’t call it futuristic; it’s just always like that. But the relevance is quite astonishing.

Scott-Heron’s work as a poet, author, jazz musician, activist and “bluesologist” as he liked to call himself, laid the foundations for rap, hip-hop and neo-soul. , especially among more politically engaged artists like Rage Against The Machine and Enemy Public.

He’s also influenced mavericks like Patti Smith and MF Doom, with his fusion of spoken poetry, jazz, funk and soul that continues to inspire.

He was the first artist to sign with Clive Davis’ then young Arista Records in 1975, marking a particularly prolific period when he released songs addressing political hypocrisy (“H2Ogate Blues”), addiction (“The Bottle”), Reaganomics (“B -Film”), and wrongful imprisonment (“Angola, Louisiana”).

“He would tour Europe and Africa and sell stadiums,” says Rackley Poll star. “People who didn’t speak English sang his songs. People came to him, sometimes like in the subway, and they knew all about him and his music.

Scott-Heron was active in the anti-apartheid movement and in 1975 published “Johannesburg” addressing the issue in South Africa and a decade later contributed “Let Me See Your ID” to Artists United Against Apartheid – Sun City . But he was also instrumental in efforts to create Martin Luther King Jr.’s National Day and was involved in the “No Nukes” campaign in the 1980s.

“In Africa I think he was well aware of his influence and scope and would be happy to be able to reach people because he had messages he was trying to get across,” Rackley said. “He was happy that he was able to reach these people, and that’s what we always try to do. Her music can reach people who may not yet know her. “

Despite many years of difficult life, drug addiction and jail time for possession of cocaine, Scott-Heron’s legacy is such that he continued to perform in front of an adoring audience almost until his death in 2011. His latest box office entry in the Pollstar archives is a 2010 appearance at Coachella, the same year he released his last album, I am new here.

He received a Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously at the 2012 Grammys and “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014.

Most recently, the St. Mary’s Park amphitheater in the Bronx bearing her name opened on October 12 in New York City. Rackley says his father’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as an early influencer is particularly gratifying.

“It’s a phenomenal recognition and honor, and I’m honored for it,” Rackley says. “I think being inducted into any category is a major achievement. But I found it especially great that it was in the Early Influencers category, because I feel like it fits perfectly. He was one of the first influences in the hip-hop genre and for people who are socially aware and aware of what’s going on in the world and aren’t afraid to say it. I want to thank the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for this recognition, and I am very happy that they had this awareness.

Kraftwerk Frohling / Kraftwerk / Getty ImagesKraftwerk


There are many bands whose impact on music cannot be measured. Their impact on a vast array of musical genres and cultures is too deep to quantify – that’s Kraftwerk. The German Man-Machine not only laid the foundations for all forms of electronic music, but also, by extension, hip-hop. Coldplay, Miley Cyrus, Dr. Dre, The Chemical Brothers, New Order, LCD Soundsystem, Busta Rhymes, and Pharrell Williams are just a few of the major artists who have sampled Kraftwerk over the years. Detroit techno pioneer Juan Atkins once said, “When I heard their music, I automatically knew I had to tighten up what I was doing… I can say for sure that they put it on. ‘Germany on the map for me. When I was a kid in school in America, the only thing we learned about Germany was WWII. “

Kraftwerk is one of the few German bands to have blackmailed Americans and invented fantastic words, something that is all too familiar to Germans who grew up with Anglo-American music. The group celebrated their international breakthrough with their 1974 album Autobahn, which reached No. 5 in the US and No. 4 on the UK charts, surpassing its position in Germany. Kraftwerk has had a very successful road career, with the group, according to Poll star Box office reports totaling $ 9.2 million on 62 shows with an average gross income of $ 184,000. Tour plans in 2020 were thwarted. Florian Schneider, co-founder of Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73. He has appeared on all of the group’s classic albums, including Radio-Activities (1975), Trans-Europe Express (1977), Die Mensch-Machine (1978) and Tour de France (2003).

Emma Banks of CAA, who has worked with the group since 1990, said: “Kraftwerk has an unprecedented influence in the music industry. I don’t understand why it took so long for them to be honored by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It is a privilege and a joy to have worked with them for 30 years. There were some amazing shows, one of which I remember particularly well was part of the Manchester International Festival. The show was played at the Velodrome, which is home to the British Olympic cyclists, and during the Tour de France performance we had four Olympic cyclists on the velodrome track cycling faster and faster as the group played on the track. It was really a special performance, it brought tears to my eyes and it is a performance that I will never forget. “


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