Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Gets it Right – Finally Sister Rosetta Tharpe is In
It’s been a long time coming. Many have advocated on her behalf for years, me in my own small way included. Even the ACLU once got into the act requesting her inclusion. And finally the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame heard the voices. The Hall’s class of 2018 will include the posthumous inclusion of Sister Rosetta Tharpe including a special Early Influence Award.
She was bisexual before it was cool and a rocker when no one knew what a rocker was. I’ve said some of these things before, but this time I get to quote from the official website of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here are a few excerpts:
“Sister Rosetta was the first guitar heroine of rock & roll.”
“If she had not been there as a model and inspiration, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and other rock originators would have had different careers.”
“In 1947, Sister Rosetta was the first person to put a 14-year-old boy named Little Richard…on a stage.”
“In 1951… she was the hottest act on stage with a guitar. She became a model for Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Johnny Cash called her his favorite singer and biggest inspiration.”
“Without Sister Rosetta Tharpe, rock and roll would be a different music. She is the founding mother who gave rock’s founding fathers the idea.”
Rolling Stone agrees.
Later in life she had largely been forgotten in the United States and played mostly European venues. Sister Rosetta Tharpe lost a leg to diabetes in 1970 and died of a stroke in 1973 at the age of 58. Years and years later, her contribution has been recognized. Good for the Hall of Fame. Here’s a sample of her 1944 recording of “Down by the Riverside”. Wait for the guitar riff about a minute and a half in.