It was a Shawnee who introduced the power chord to rock and roll. But American Indians’ massive influence on rock and pop history has largely been buried — until now.
By LEWIS BEALE
There’s a video clip in the new documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, which neatly sums up what the film is all about. The Native American rock band Redbone, dressed in colorful tribal regalia, are performing their hit song “Come and Get Your Love” in a 1974 TV performance. Band member Tony Bellamy starts the number performing what’s known as a Fancy Dance, a Plains pow-wow tradition featuring chanting and fancy footwork. Then he sheds his feathered raiment, picks up an electric guitar, and the band charges into the song, which made it to No. 5 on the pop charts, and was recently featured in Guardians of the Galaxy.
It’s a truly thrilling multi-cultural experience. And as the documentary makes clear, Redbone, which included members of the Yaqui and Shoshone tribes, were not the only American Indians who played a key role in the gumbo that makes up American pop culture.
“American Indians pose a challenge to what we typically see as rock history, which has been very black and white,” says John Troutman, music curator at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., who is interviewed in the film. “Rock and roll is filled with people from a range of backgrounds, and when you speak to musicians, they are all totally aware of it. But nobody had come together to reveal the extent of their [American Indians] participation in the music.”
“Native Americans were willfully segregated out of society as soon as the white man got here,” adds Rolling Stone writer David Fricke, also interviewed in the film, explaining their absence from rock history. “They were not part of the narrative anymore.”
Rumble, which won a special jury prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, opens in New York on July 26th followed by a national rollout, and is the brainchild of Stevie Salas, an Apache guitarist who has played with Rod Stewart, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Eddie Money and many others. Salas, who is executive producer of Rumble (the film was directed by Catherine Bainbridge), says he first realized there were other Indians in rock when he started playing for Stewart in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until the early years of this century that he fully realized their influence. That’s when he found out about Link Wray, a Shawnee whose 1958 instrumental hit “Rumble” introduced the power chord to rock and roll.
“That’s when my brain exploded,” says Salas, “because Native American people don’t have any role models. Nobody wanted to be Native American. It was something we would keep to ourselves, something we didn’t talk about. There were Native Americans doing these things back then, but no one saw them.”…
Continued via… Source: The Kickass Native American Rock Bands Music History Forgot