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Jimi Hendrix and black culture.

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


  1. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    There are a few points to make here. First, it is a dangerous assumption to make dance music cannot also be thought provoking. Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, War, and others made lots of cerebral music with a good beat. As for a flower child waving arms, by Black standards, that is not dancing at all!:D

    I never said that Blacks are the only people to dance in history, but dancing is central to the way music is experienced by the black masses. Your examples of Latino culture actually reinforces my argument because all of the great Latin dance music has African roots that are even more undiluted than much of African American music.
     
  2. marcray

    marcray

    Nov 28, 2006
    Englishman in Oyster Bay, NY
    Aging Former Bass Player
    absolutely agreed, but you've answered what I already know... there are much bigger questions in my paragraphs...
     
  3. cdef

    cdef

    Jul 18, 2003
    I believe this must have a lot to do with it. For the past few decades, the blues have had a primarily white audience (remember the yearly American Folk Blues Festival tours of Europe in the 1960s).

    The whole syndrome of the Beatles selling rock'n'roll back to the U.S. of A. and the subsequent "British Invasion" is a complex subject that may not have been very fully analyzed yet. I feel Hendrix belongs in that context. He was an innovative blues player who had paid his dues on the American club circuit, but it was the psychedelic vogue and savvy cross-Atlantic marketing that launched him as a rock superstar. That's not to detract from his musical genius, which would have shone through anywhere, but in some way it may have distanced him from current events in America, and some of the black audience may have seen his act as Uncle Tomming, since he was already such a hit with whites. I think he tried to "make amends" - listen to Freedom on the posthumous Cry of Love.

    Lyrically, he could be poetic in a way the blues had no precedent for (Little Wing, The Wind Cries Mary). This is a diction he may have learned from his appreciation of Dylan, who took it from the European poets he liked. I can't think of another black songwriter in that kind of symbolist vein. Of course, he also wrote lyrics in a more traditional blues manner.

    All in all, I think of Jimi as an artist caught between cultures, but a universal talent.

    jimi.jpg

    PS: I saw him live in 1967, and he presaged everything I've heard in rock guitar playing since.
     
  4. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Scotland
    I don't think so.

    Stream of consciousness and much conjecture here, and it probably reveals my latent prejudices when I assume the way kids of both colors thought in the sixties...

    You touched on what I think was the main reason Hendrix was embraced by a white audience more than a black audience when you mentioned that blues had fallen out of favor (with black audiences) in the 60s.

    Blues was, by and large, seen as the music of poor, suffering people and was shunned by upwardly mobile black kids as its message was seen as incompatible with their aspirations.

    White kids in Britain* had been exposed to blues first through skiffle in the 1950s (middle class kids playing Leadbelly songs on home made instruments), then through Rock and Roll via Elvis, Duane Eddy and hundreds of impersonators. There was a hunger for 'authenticity' that led them to Chuck Berry, Little Richard, etc., and ultimately to Muddy Waters, BB King, etc.

    When the likes of the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton came on the scene, they'd been devouring Blues records and trying to play just like all the old American Blues artists. When Hendrix appeared in 1966, it was quickly recognised that he was the real deal, plus he was flattering the British musicians by actually being into what they were doing.

    Hendrix became successful in the US initially because of the exposure he was given by the likes of Brian Jones and Paul McCartney, who insisted he was included on the bill for the Monterey Pop Festival. He was quickly accepted by those who were already into the British Invasion bands, and it was perhaps inevitable that he would be listened to by a white audience.

    Why a large Black audience didn't take to him? Maybe it was because the music he played was too bluesy in a time when blues was deeply unfashionable? Maybe it was because it was seen as music that square white kids listened to (in the same way I assume most Metal is seen today)? Maybe it was because his British rhythm section didn't play in a way that was good for dancing to (Mitch Mitchell, while he's one of my favorite drummers, isn't the funkiest out there)?

    *I make no apologies for mentioning Britain so much in this, as I believe Hendrix's initial success in Britain shaped the way his career went.
     
  5. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Scotland
    Had I read this before typing my last post, I probably would have just typed "+1"

    I hate you. ;)
     
  6. jsbass

    jsbass

    Sep 3, 2006
    WI
    Listening to Jimi right now actually. I just love him because of what he did. Some of the most excellent guitar playing that my ears have ever experienced.
     
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Because he was much more of a social figure than Hendrix. He talked about social issues and reality, not just sunshine and happiness.

    I wasn't into Hendrix back then because I really wasn't into anyone doing extended soloing in that context. I had respect for the skill but that was about it. I'd rather listen to a groove, be it Mother Popcorn or Funk 49. It's also some of the most boring basswork I can think of, right up there with being stuck in I-IV-V Blues hell.

    So how exactly should Hendrix be embraced by the "Black community"? Just curious.

    BTW Ernie Isley was a Hendrix clone (Hendrix had played with the elder Isley Brothers long before 1970 IIRC) and not a contemporary. Not in 1970. And lots of Black people love(d) him because of the context he played in.
     
  8. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Dec 25, 2000
    Excellent point! While it's hard to argue that Hendrix revolutionized rock and blues guitar - much the same way Segovia changed classical guitar or Chet Atkins changed country guitar - the fact is that Jimi always wanted to be taken seriously as a songwriter. I think many people get mesmorized by Hendrix's guitar pyrotechnics and Eddie Kramer's production - which was pretty groundbreaking for the day - and lose sight of the lyrics and arrangements. Hendrix, while being an extremely gifted guitarist, was in fact a class-A songwriter as well.
     
  9. ElectrAcoustic

    ElectrAcoustic

    Aug 29, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Actually, to set the record straight, toward the end of his short life, Jimi made a concerted effort to appeal to black audiences and did so with the Band of Gypsies.. his audiences were in fact, mostly black at that period and he was getting politically involved with the Black Panthers, etc.. And among me and other black musicians I know, he's definitely up on a pedestal as he should be.. as for the general public, especially black youth, he's an full on icon.. a symbol of the 60s.. black youth as a rule don't really dwell on the art of the past, they're paying attention to the latest thing.. as much as they love him, they think of Jimi as their parents' music..
     
  10. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Great post, Brad. Once again, there was nothing wrong with most Blacks of the time and later not being into Hendrix. Hendrix was a great, successful musician with a great audience. So what if his audience was not the same color as him? IMO, there seems to be an implication that there was something wrong with Black people because they did not have the same taste as Whites.:eyebrow:
     
  11. marcray

    marcray

    Nov 28, 2006
    Englishman in Oyster Bay, NY
    Aging Former Bass Player
    Really? That's what you get from it? We miscommunicate that badly? :(
     
  12. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    It just seems to me that it obvious that he didn't play a type of music that fit well into the dominant style of music among African Americans at the time. It wasn't an issue of his politics or the blues. Anyone who seriously has listened to Stax or Atlantic records, not to mention Malaco knows that the blues never left Black music. It's just that the I IV V Chicago blues vibe was no longer dominant.

    More to the point, you wonder why Hendrix wasn't popular and two Black men old enough to know something about that period give you an answer, and you still keep looking for something else (not to say that Brad and I speak for all Black people, but I suspect we know a bit more about the culture than those outside of it.:D)
     
  13. peaveyuser

    peaveyuser Banned

    Oct 18, 2006
    Montreal,Canada
    I agree, I mean I have Brazilian blood (Portuguese) and a lot of Brazil's big acts are Metal bands (Angra, Sepultura etc.....).

    Look at Brazil, it's hard to find a country with a bigger dancing culture. And in general Brazil has a very upbeat party culture that loves Rock & (especially) metal which also loves dancing. So I agree I don't think the fact that dancing culture has a lot to do with it.


    Also, just to question one guys point (Dr.Cheese?). If the black culture is so much more into music you can dance too, how about a lot of Reggae, I mean a lot of it is more laid back music that has a solid beat, but I wouldn't call it dance. That said there is A LOT of reggae that gets you dancing.


    I HATE this stereotype.


    Nice conversation guys, I'm glad to see Dr.Cheese got in it now, I was interested in seeing his points across the board.
     
  14. bassaficionado6

    bassaficionado6 Something about gumption

    Jan 7, 2008
    Napa, CA
     
  15. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I rarely black or mulatto (pardon the term) looking Brazilians playing metal. I may well be wrong. I am a long ways from an expert on Brazilian rock.

    As for reggae, I have been talking about African American as opposed to Afro Caribbean music, although Reggae is good for blissed out hopping around and head bobbing.:D
     
  16. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
     
  17. bassaficionado6

    bassaficionado6 Something about gumption

    Jan 7, 2008
    Napa, CA
     
  18. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Exactly. And I'll throw another monkey wrench into the works: Why was I, as a Black teen during that period, more attracted to CCR than Hendrix at the time? I know lots of Black people who loved Fogerty back then. The same with the Doobies. And Dennis Coffey. And so on. I also listened to alot of Pop back then too, was a big Burt Bacharat fan, watched Hee Haw, loved Green Acres and the Beverly Hillbillies.

    Is that what I was "supposed" to be doing?

    This thread just begs the obvious question: Why should mainstream Black culture embrace Hendrix?

    And why don't White people embrace everything other White people like or do?

    This should be interesting.
    :cool:

    And on the I-IV-V Blues tip... Black culture had been listening to that for a looooong time before Whites. Maybe we just got tired of it.
    :meh:
     
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    :D
     
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    "Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud" by JB most definitely moved people cerebrally... yet many White people didn't embrace it. And add Marvin Gaye to that list of music with a message.
    :D

     

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