Little Red Rooster

We can start an interesting conversation here about the British people’s colonization of  African-American musical styles. It would be relevant, as the debate still rages about where to mark the delineations between influence, homage, and outright theft. No group did more than The Rolling Stones in bringing what Americans used to call ‘race music’ into widespread popularity. Of course, it was the Stones’ own distinctive take on blues music that became wildly popular, while real blues music remains a niche market. There are critics who think the popularization of blues by the English was a mercenary act of appropriation. There’s a wide range of opinions on who the most egregious offenders were; some people consider Led Zeppelin guilty of plagiarism but give the Stones a pass. Others think the opposite. Personally, I think the Rolling Stones should be applauded for championing the original artists – something they have never stopped doing. And as far as I know the original artists themselves – Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon in this case – were entirely delighted to share their works and wisdom with eager young acolytes. Not to mention the publicity boosted their own profiles immensely and led to career opportunities they had previously been denied. As for comparative quality, that’s a wholly subjective judgement best left to individual tastes. Purists may prefer the originals and decry the inauthenticity of white people trying to play blues. Others accept the blues as performed by The Rolling Stones as a natural step in the ongoing evolution of a living art form.


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