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Jimi Hendrix and black culture.

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Benjamin Strange, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    This subject may very well be too hot for TB, but I thought I'd ask this question to a bunch of fellow musicians to see if I can gain a bit of perspective I would not have otherwise gained.

    I have often wondered why it appears that mainstream black culture does not embrace Jimi Hendrix.

    Admittedly, I'm a white dude, and although I appreciate many aspects of what could be seen as a collective black culture, I am not immersed in it. Yet, as a musician, I have often wondered why I don't see black Americans embracing Jimi (or many other iconic black musicians, for that matter). I see young white kids wearing Hendrix shirts and listening to his music constantly, yet I have never seen a young black man wearing one nor listening to his music. Hendrix is revered as a god by many, yet for some reason he seems conspicuously absent from the pantheon of black heroes. Martin Luther King, Tupac, Muhammad Ali, Malcom X - I see that these men are revered by black people of all ages, and they are revered for good reason. Where is Jimi?

    I have thought that perhaps it's because Jimi played "white" music... but then I thought of how much Eminem has been accepted into "black" music. Could it be as simple as Dave Chappelle's theory that black people just don't like guitars? It seems like a great many black musicians, such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Chuck Berry, Robert Johnson, Living Colour, etc. are embraced by white audiences much more so than black audiences. What gives?

    Maybe I'm not seeing the whole situation clearly, as I am on one side of the color line and can only see things from my own perspective. Perhaps Snoop Dogg really does jam out to Hendrix (or maybe even James Taylor when nobody is looking). Maybe this is strictly an American thing - or maybe even just a Dirty South thing. Whatever the truth is, I'm not really grasping it.

  2. Spoiled Grape

    Spoiled Grape I <3 Darkstar

    May 29, 2003
    Riverside, CA
    Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Chuck Berry, Living Colour are all embraced by a small percentage of Americans. While a large percentage is probably familiar with their names, I doubt most Americans could name a song. Since blacks are still a minority in America, it only makes sense that the general black population isn't into jazz or music that isn't modern.

    As far as white kids wearing Jimi Hendrix shirts, I think it more has to do with fashion than it has to do with music reverence. You can buy a Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, or Pink Floyd shirt at any department store now-a-days. White kids eat it up. Black fashion isn't the same.
  3. Mike Money

    Mike Money In Memoriam

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    Bigger question here, benji.

    When the hell did you start posting again?

    And where the hell was i?
  4. Truthfully, how in touch do you consider yourself with the black community, Ben? I am not trying to sound like a jerk, but generalizations about any community and what they accept can be troublesome.
  5. peaveyuser

    peaveyuser Banned

    Oct 18, 2006

    I will admit I am a white teenage kid (wearing a Motorhead shirt at the moment), but I wear that Hendrix shirt because I know who he is and frequently listen to him. I have also done research on him and an essay for school. (Hell he inspired me as a bassist too).

    It ticks me off as it's a "fashion" now to some.

    But I just want to make a point not derail.
  6. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Fairly recently, actually. I'm playing music full time these days, so I have too much time on my hands.
  7. marcray


    Nov 28, 2006
    Englishman in Oyster Bay, NY
    Aging Former Bass Player
    Jimi Hendrix is black?
  8. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Truthfully, not much, which is why I ask. Granted, my best friend is black, but he's not in touch with the black community either, and isn't much help.

    I live in an area that is predominantly black (well, at least it was before the storm), and play music for a living, and yet I very rarely see black people in the audiences at our shows, or even at other people's shows. We've got some great black musicians down here, like George Porter, Kermit Ruffins, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, etc., and yet their audiences are almost always 100% white. I don't get it.
  9. bassaficionado6

    bassaficionado6 Something about gumption

    Jan 7, 2008
    Napa, CA
    I've often wondered this myself. A couple things though. Rock n' roll never originated as "white" music, but as a seemingly natural progression from the blues and jazz which were, in fact, "black" music. One reason he may not have been accepted in mainstream black culture as Malcolm X and MLK because (to my knowledge) fought for or advocated black rights. As for comparisons to Muhammed Ali and Tupac, well I've never actually conisdered Ali to be accepted by the black community more so than any other community. Mainstream black culture also seems to have more of trend towards rap 100 fold over rock n' roll, which would explain why Tupac is more of a symbol than Jimi is.

    This is all of course IMHO.
  10. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    My best friend is black, so extrapolating from one person to all black people, I can say that black men love Jimi Hendrix. And tangerines. And wearing women's underwear.

    To be honest, there is something to Ben's question. Among black musicians I've met, there is the same level of love/respect for Jimi as among white musicians, if not more. I remember a conversation with Tim Parker (Gift of Gab from Blackalicious) of our mutual appreciation of Hendrix and what an inspiration he was, even in the world of hip-hop.

    But among black youth, there IS far less affection shown to Jimi Hendrix than among white kids. And I don't have an answer as for why.
  11. peaveyuser

    peaveyuser Banned

    Oct 18, 2006
    No offense guys ( I mean this as merely an observation) but I never understoood why there isn't as much black culture in Rock & Roll as there is in Hip Hop.

    I mean most of the black kids here listen to mainly hip hop and don't usually like Rock or Metal.

    This is just an observation and I never understood why it is. I mean there seems to be a lot more white Asian and Indian guys listening too rock and metal then black.

    Does this puzzle anyone else? I thought since we live in such a multicultural society which is filled with variety I might see the occasional black guy/gal rocking in a metal band but I don't.
  12. godsbassman62


    Nov 29, 2007
    Well, since I am African American and been involved in music in someway since the late 60's. I may have an idea (only an Idea). I think I can say that there are a couple of reasons why. During that period we were establishing our own identity as a people and the biggest thing was music. We had identified ourselves with R&B (race music). We had separate radio stations that played our music. We embraced Sly and the Family Stone but Jimi just was not part of it. The other reason is we may just not be as sentimental as our fairer brothers. So you really don't see very often a older African American wearing alotta faces from the past on our shirts. Tupac, Dr. King, and Malcolm X are part of a resurging kinda thing that happened. We do know who Jimi was he is much respected amongst us and loved. Especially among my higher pitched 6 string friends. In schools he is mentioned along with Miles, Coltrane, Mr. Johnson and Parker. But I think as a culture we have favorites. We have ours and you have yours. If really look we don't really mention Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, We just don't look at Jimi the same as y'all do. We as a whole never really embraced rock music either. I don't think this discussion is an issue it gives us an opportuntity to share. I think the man the asked question is cool.
  13. Deluge Of Sound

    Deluge Of Sound Banned

    Nov 8, 2007
    Actually, one of the first guys to play blastbeats in a death-metal band (Mike Smith from Suffocation) was black.

    And the singer from Sepultura is black. So they're out there, if you know where to look.
  14. Surly


    Feb 2, 2007
    South Florida
    Since black people are naturally cool, it has been for quite some time, fashionable for white people to act black...not the other way around..... black people don't try to be white & nerdy.
  15. great question ben, i've offended wondered the exact same thing.
  16. I brought this same question up at my last job. In a nutshell, most black guys that responded said the just don't like the style or sound of guitar that Hendrix played. Remarks like, it sounded like cats fighting in burlap sack, etc., seemed to be the general consensus. Older black people, my age, 43 at the time and older, said they liked blues and Motown but just DID NOT like Hendrix's sound at all. Younger guys listen to rap and some soul and R&B ONLY, no classic rock, hard rock or ANY rock.
  17. peaveyuser

    peaveyuser Banned

    Oct 18, 2006
    It puzzles me, it just does.
  18. bassaficionado6

    bassaficionado6 Something about gumption

    Jan 7, 2008
    Napa, CA

    It's not weird. It all has to do with your culture. Not to generalize or sterotype, but the majority of the young black population listen to rap. White kids are usually looked down upon for listening to rap "in the open," and are thus encouraged to listen to more pop and rock. However, almost NOBODY black or white listens to metal at my school. what the deuce is up with that?:smug:
  19. peaveyuser

    peaveyuser Banned

    Oct 18, 2006
    ehhh thats the thing I was never encouraged to listen to any music really. Nobody shoved stuff down my throat, I really just decided I like Classic Rock and Metal the best. I also listen to blues and jazz a bit too, but it was all my decision and searching.

    I was just thinking that a lot of people were like this and why any person of any origin would listen to different music from the others, never saw it as something that would be specifically from the culture you were in. I mean my surroundings is a bunch of kids blasting pop and hip hop, which I don't like.
  20. bassaficionado6

    bassaficionado6 Something about gumption

    Jan 7, 2008
    Napa, CA
    Perhaps that's the rebel rock n roll effect making you go against the system and popular culture.

    I was never encouraged to listen to music either. If I was I'd probably be listening to a mix of flamenco (dad), country (dad), and rap (sister). Rock just appealed to me and my brohter alot more than any other genre.

    Did I make a point?

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