Every instrument in bluegrass, blues and rock has an African counterpart. Blues evolved from a forcible blend of African (Bakongo, Hausa, Sissala, etc.), Indigenous American and European music: yearning for home while making a new one here.

Rock grew in ancestral experience from Africa to the Americas: Barbados, Brazil, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, the United States.

Blues birthed rock: a hybrid that Black Death, Chuck Berry, Tina Turner, Funkadelic, Sound Barrier, Screamin' Jay, 24-7 Spyz and Living Colour play.

Our ethnic cousins in the Gambia, Senegal, Ghana and beyond play parallels like xalams (pronounced heh-lahm): ancient five-stringed lutes across Western Africa.

 17th-20th century gave us most of rock's foundation. Screamin' Jay spooks us to this day.

Lead Belly, King of the 12-String, mesmerized with  rockin' songs "Goodnight Irene" and "Tell Me Baby". His steel thumb pick gave guitar a metallic sound before Tony Iommi!

Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lead Belly held space for  "Lightnin'" Hopkins and T-Bone Walker, so those young Black rockers could start their careers.

Memphis Minnie was always meant to shine, and as Led Zeppelin is considered the precursor to heavy metal like Black Sabbath?

She's a reigning mother of metal too. Robert Johnson was the blues man around town if the crossroads aren't familiar. You just knew he was special, even in earlier days.

Life happened quickly for Johnson. He lost his teenage wife and young baby before 18. Roads, touring life called him away soon. Son House and Robert Johnson were grooving on guitar by 1930.

So there were definitely big shoes to fill. No, Johnson didn't sell his soul. He just practiced very thoughtfully. Read about the famous Dallas and San Antonio Sessions!

"Terraplane Blues" is an example of that Delta smoothness. Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Robert Palmer all cite this seminal bluesman, the notorious Mississippi rock-star as their inspiration.

Screamin' Jay Hawkins is widely known as THE shock rock king before Alice Cooper or G.G. Allin. Their hometown is Cleveland, OH just like Black Death!

Screamin' Jay Hawkins had been an opera singer and unsuccessful boxer in pre-recording days. His musical venture proved to be a fruitful one.

Then you have Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whose rock riffs and multi-instrumental skills created a genre that thrives through her innovation. "Rock Me" indeed. There is no way to overstate the impact.

You hear her guitar solos, and immediately understand. Our favorites are "This Little Light of Mine" and "Strange Things Happenin' Everyday".

She channeled civil rights into multiple live shows as the movement spread, and her platform strengthened. Rosetta had metal power!

Travelling country, gospel, jazz musicians moved across America—Tina's hometown like griots. Young Anna Mae Bullock became a rock legend after generations Reconstructed their very identity.

Check her Hall of Fame profile

Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Miles and Billy Cox decided for future generations: rock could be funky, gritty and melodic all at once! Buddy played with everyone from Santana to Jimi, the Delfonics, Ink Spots and more.

Jimi inspired McCartney to buy his own electric guitar.

Thin Lizzy brought Black Dublin and metal's proto-sound to worldwide audiences. Don't forget it! It was a process much like folk-to-blues-rock here.


Betty Gray Mabry, later known as Davis. Her name's a complete damn sentence by itself. The metal matriarch left THIS plane on February 9th.

We have to share our eternal love and respect. Where did she grow up? Durham, North Carolina! Betty spent time between there, Homestead and bustling Pittsburgh.

Grandma was a rock-her too who adored B.B. King, Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters. You hear those undeniably bluesy roots throughout Betty Davis' discography, even her first song "I'm Going to Bake That Cake of Love" —at 12 years old! Whoa!

Betty stayed with Auntie while attending FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). She found Greenwich Village, its iconic art scene: folk artists, rock enthusiasts, models, every and anyone.

Betty Davis hit up The Cellar, a fabulous and famous club for badasses like her. And this is just the BEGINNING: 1964. Soon Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone were her peers. The Chambers Brothers gained huge popularity in 1967, for which we definitely give Betty credit (Uptown to Harlem)!

She had already been gearing up to arrange her own music for years. Four flew by as The Pointer Sisters, Sly and the Family Stone, Miles Davis and more collaborated on Betty's original tunes.

You wanna talk about making a statement? Betty wrote the book. She gave us one more album in 1976 (Is It Love Or Desire?) then reluctantly left the scene...because they didn't respect her worth at the time. But listen to us when she say that every single body of Betty's work had soul.

African-American rockers contributed entire histories without full recognition. The Metal Islands is a recent documentary about Caribbean metal.

We also know: Caribbean punks and mosh scenes were an aggressive scene of yardcore, rude boy music that combined reggae to literally rock steady.

Mosh it up = mash it up! How do you think Bad Brains came to rock? We wouldn't have punk/metal as it is without them in 1977.

King's X is a HUGELY relevant rock-metal band which started in 1979.

This powerful trio: bassist/singer Doug Pinnick, drummer Jerry Gaskill and guitarist/vocalist Ty Tabor should be given far more credit!

King's X traversed underground and mainstream popularity with albums Out of the Silent Planet, Faith Hope Love, etc.

Lord Bishop Rocks performed with King's X AND Living Colour in the 90's! Talk about metal connectivity. A network of hard-genre rockers has been forming for years.

Fishbone established themselves as one of music's best bands yet in 1979. They bring the NOISE to worldwide audiences and broke new ground in every way for everyone. Please listen to 'em and learn something about metal!