The true inventor of rock n roll has been a hot topic of debate for many years. At least we’ve mostly agreed that it wasn’t Elvis, but that doesn’t exactly narrow it down. Many different artists have been credited with the genre’s invention, including Ike Turner, Hank Williams, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Buddy Holly – but too often the debate seem to feature the same glaring oversight.
When evaluating who really invented rock n roll, the fierce and talented women of the early rock movement are often overlooked. One such woman was African American Gospel singer Rosetta Tharpe, who has been listed as an influence by many of these acclaimed rock pioneers.
Little Richard called her his favorite singer and his main inspiration to become an artist, and her guitar style inspired artists from Chuck Berry to Meatloaf, Foo Fighters and everyone in between.
That being said, her legacy far exceeds the value she added to the work of her male contemporaries. Tharpe’s long list of achievements began when she learned to play the guitar by the age of six, earning her prodigy-status among her community. Through her life, she went on to develop a unique style that blended gospel, blues and urban pop with heavy distortion over rhythmic guitar playing, earning her at times a controversial name within traditional community routes – but despite facing discrimination from both the spiritual and the secular world, Tharpe eventually recorded what is arguably now known as the first rock ‘n roll record: Strange Things Happening Every Day.
Its impossible to crown one artist as the inventor of rock ‘n roll, but this women’s month we’d like to acknowledge the contributions of great pioneering women like Rosetta Tharpe.
Thank you for Powering the Music Ladies