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 Racism in rock-a-billy

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Minnesota Fats

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PostSubject: Racism in rock-a-billy   Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:55 am

man. i know this may go wrong in the worst way but i must ask my people here a question. do you think that there is a racist undercurrent in rock-a-billy music? i know that when i went to the stray cats concerts in the mid 1980's i was definately the odd man out. i took alot of stick for liking the music of that scene. anyone here have a comment? i am absolutely not trying to be provocative, i am just asking the question.
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Guitarmaniac

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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:08 pm

Are you thinking about the music, or the Rockabilly scene in general?
I know some people who think that the rockabilly scene has a racist background, because people wear the southern rebel flags and other stuff like that but personally, being a "Rockabilly" myself have never met any other Rockabilly in person who showed any sign of racism, at least in public, exept one single girl which I completely ignore because of what she said, which I don't want to post here.
Of course there are always some fags on the internet posting their dumb shit, but from what I know those are not the people the rockabilly scene generally consists of...
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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:47 pm

Fats, I don't think there's a big racist "thing" in the rockabilly scene. IMO it's impossible to be a racist and a rock'n'roll/rockabilly fan. Had it not been for the black influence, this music would simply not exist.

That said, there are rotten eggs everywhere, and some people join sub-cultures just because they want a certain look. I've met a few jerks through the years, but in fact, I think it's a smaller problem in the rockabilly scene than in other, similar sub-cultures.

However, I live in Norway, and the rockabilly scene over here is small, so it might be different other places...


Anders
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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Tue Mar 31, 2009 1:03 pm

gretschoholic wrote:
Fats, I don't think there's a big racist "thing" in the rockabilly scene. IMO it's impossible to be a racist and a rock'n'roll/rockabilly fan. Had it not been for the black influence, this music would simply not exist.

That said, there are rotten eggs everywhere...
Anders

Perfectly said Anders, I am with you here.
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Rickabilly

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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:11 pm

I think there may be a racist element in some aspects of rockabilly's history, in part because of the time and place from which a lot of the music was born. The Southern US in the 1950s wasn't exactly the most enlightened place on earth. Segregation, Jim Crow laws, and other racially divided constructs were quite commonplace in that region of the country. And yet, rockabilly, like rock and roll, was a form of music that rebelled against the establishment. There's no denying the rural hillbilly roots, but it still borrowed heavily from gospel, blues and r&b, leading its detractors to condemn rockabilly (as well as rock-n-roll) as "nigger music."

So if the racist adults hated rockabilly, could rockabilly be considered a racist genre of music? I don't think so. Were there racist rockabilly artists? Undoubtedly. Lee Denson had several songs that carried racist undertones, including "The South's Gonna Rise Again." It could be argued that Lee was celebrating the Southern states, sharing the view of many White Southerners who still harbored a nostalgia for the Confederacy.

Many people cite the iconic use of the Confederate flag in rockabilly circles, even in 2009, as being overtly racist. Others, especially from outside the US (where rockabilly enjoys a greater popularity in some countries) claim it as a symbol of rebelliousness, as it is often referred to as the "Rebel Flag". Hank Jr., Lynyrd Skynyrd (what's left of them) and others will tout it as a symbol of Southern Pride. Brian Setzer used it in one of the more popular marketing pieces for the 2005 Nashvillains European tour, invoking the rebel spirit of the Sun rockabillies without a hint of racism. In the artwork, "Setzer" had a bandanna sporting the "Rebel Flag." There was indeed quite a discussion on this forum about the appropriateness of the use of it at the time. Subsequent versions of that piece have had an American flag and now a more traditional red bandanna design.

Rockabilly music has always struggled for popularity, even back in the 1950s. I think the hillbilly aspect of it kept it from gaining a bigger audience. Many records floundered with regional distribution, only gaining widespread recognition on reissues many years later. Back in the 50s, many of the artists came from poor, rural, working class backgrounds. The socioeconomic disparities can lead to prejudices approaching those based on color as well. People who were considered "Crackers," "Hillbillies," and "Poor White Trash" endured their share of scorn and prejudice as well.

Other more urban genres like rock-n-roll, doo-wop, and rhythm-n-blues flourished. Even country music tried to be more cosmopolitan in the late 50s and early 60s, with artists such as Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Eddy Arnold, and others producing more polished recordings than their honky-tonkin' predecessors. So maybe there's a socio-economic divide as well.

When I hear people arguing that rockabilly music is inherently racist, they will ask me to name a Black rockabilly artist. I can't do it. I'm sure they're out there. But it's tougher than naming a Black country artist (other than Charley Pride) in the days before Darius Rucker. Where I see diversity in rockabilly is in the Latino community. It is hugely popular in the LA/East LA area, with cats like Big Sandy leasing the way. Before I continue to talk out my arse on this subject, I'll defer to the SoCal rockabillies on the board who can attest to the Latino presence in the rockabilly scene, including the great Irish-Australian philosopher, TV the Wired Turtle.

I can't explain why there isn't an abundance of rockabilly fans or artists in the Black community. (Black as opposed to African American, seeing as how rockabilly is perhaps bigger outside the US than inside the US.) I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the perception of it having a white, rural, Southern, and possibly racist history. If it's being dismissed out of hand because of those perceptions, that's a shame, because there's some really great music being overlooked.


As usual, lots of words, and nary a point to be found within them.


The Other White Rick(abilly)
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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:16 pm

Guitarmaniac wrote:

Of course there are always some fags on the internet posting their dumb shit, but from what I know those are not the people the rockabilly scene generally consists of...

I'm going to presume by "fags," you must mean "cigarettes," Rolling Eyes because on a thread where we're touting rockabilly as a non-racist genre of music, it is decidedly bad form to use homophobic slang to help make your point.

Enlightened Ignoramus-billy
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Andi

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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:18 pm


Stray Cats, 14 Karat Soul, "I Won't Stand In Your Way." They toured with them and performed on Saturday Night Live.

As for black rockabilly artists, there's Ray Sharpe and a few others, but I reckon we overlook Chuck Berry all too often.

I don't think there's room for racism in modern rockabilly, it's huge in Europe, Japan, Mexico... and as Rickabilly mentioned, the Latino contingent in SoCal is massive. I have to admit I miss that here in Aussieland!

EDIT: Another black rockabilly singer, Big Al Downing, is in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame:
http://www.rockabillyhall.com/bigal.html
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Minnesota Fats

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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:33 pm

great answers there people. love it. i'll say there is some real smart folks on this forum. i appreciate the input. i really do. man, i will tell you that the rebel flag had NEVER been a bother to me. i always loved the spirit of that flag. to me it's rock and roll! no problem there. i suppose i asked the question because i know so many people here in the midwest who still think i oughta be parking their 56 chevy or something. there is ALOT or racism around me (and my American Indian friends) here in the Twin Cities. it hurts man, but it don't ruin my day.

hey, i like the comment that without the blues music, there would not be anything like rock-a-billy. you got that straight as a flying arrow baby! it all came from my (our) forefathers. big bill broonzy, robert johnson, muddy, the wolf.....

thanks 'yall. very cool replies.
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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:42 pm

There's no doubt in my mind that the original rhythm and blues songs were dirtier, grittier, and generally more rockin' than the covers by Elvis and Bill Haley and the like - for me, that's some of the best damn music ever made. Wynonie Harris and Big Joe Turner rank right up there among my favourite artists of all time. My dogs are named Rhythm and Blues in honour of those guys, not the stuff they call r&b today.

Matter of fact, gonna go listen to some Wynonie right now. Thanks for the inspiration, Sherm!
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Rickabilly

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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:47 pm

Damn, girl! I got "Bloodshot: The Best of Wynonie Harris" in my CD player right now!

Git To Gittin' Baby-billy
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Brett

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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:04 am

I`m sure there are some stupid racist in the Rockabilly scene (here in Europe),
but also in the Bikerscene and and in the Hardrock-Scene as well.

You will find everwhere stupid people.
My way is very easy, i don`t care for color, extraction (is it the right word?), language, Haircolor, Brand of the bike, the car, or whatever might be important for some people.
If somebody is a good guy, fine. I could be a friend for ever,
if somebody is an idiot i will tell him if necessary.

But one thing is for sure:
HDV Board Member and Brian Setzer Fans aren`t stupid and so you wonīt find any f***ing racist in this board. Cool

Cheers

Brett
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Kelley



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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Wed Apr 01, 2009 1:21 am

...


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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Wed Apr 01, 2009 5:13 am

Rickabilly wrote:
Guitarmaniac wrote:

Of course there are always some fags on the internet posting their dumb shit, but from what I know those are not the people the rockabilly scene generally consists of...

I'm going to presume by "fags," you must mean "cigarettes," Rolling Eyes because on a thread where we're touting rockabilly as a non-racist genre of music, it is decidedly bad form to use homophobic slang to help make your point.

Enlightened Ignoramus-billy

I'm sorry, I wasn't aware of the background this word has, I thought it was used like "jackass".
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Kid Setzer

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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Wed Apr 01, 2009 6:16 am

I think some people (especially younger people that don't understand the origins of a word) use that type of slang they don't realise what it actually means.. Like when a kid might say 'Man that class was so gay', they don't realise what it even means because it's been desencitized so much.. even before that, to be gay was to be happy and joyful! I think this is what has happened in guitarmaniac's case, as the word has been desencitized so much that it has been given a new meaning and definition.. The word 'fag' gets used alot by young people to describe people acting like idiots and disrespecting others, I don't think alot of young people actually know what it means and how the word has been used in the past.
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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Wed Apr 01, 2009 6:57 am

You got it Kid. I must have heard it on some TV show, probably Southpark or something like that pale
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Rickabilly

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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:42 am

Kid Setzer wrote:
I think some people (especially younger people that don't understand the origins of a word) use that type of slang they don't realise what it actually means.. Like when a kid might say 'Man that class was so gay', they don't realise what it even means because it's been desencitized so much.. even before that, to be gay was to be happy and joyful! I think this is what has happened in guitarmaniac's case, as the word has been desencitized so much that it has been given a new meaning and definition.. The word 'fag' gets used alot by young people to describe people acting like idiots and disrespecting others, I don't think alot of young people actually know what it means and how the word has been used in the past.


So you're calling me old? You age-ist whipper-snapper! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy


Now where did I put my Depends?


Prune-a-billy
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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Wed Apr 01, 2009 9:49 am

...


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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Wed Apr 01, 2009 1:59 pm

I'm not really sure about my comments but as far as I've seen in a couple of docummentaries, I must say that in its originis (R&R, R'billy) were racists, not in the lyrics, but in what concers musicians. I've heard that many hit songs reached No 1 just because they were re-recorded by white artists, when the original performes were black. I wouldn't say this is "racism" at all but one of the reasons for that re-recording is said to be that people would be thrilled if they discovered that the original artists were black.

Am I right?? Anyone has any idea about this??
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Kid Setzer

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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:31 pm

Rickabilly wrote:
So you're calling me old? You age-ist whipper-snapper! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

Hehe I was just letting you know from someone on the inside Razz Lots of these kids don't even know the power some of those words have behind them.. I must say when I was still in high school and every year I went up a grade a new tribe of year eights would enter from primary school - the larger the gap between my age and the new year eights that arrived each year the worse they got! Seriously those kids have the WORST mouths on them!.. I think they swear so much that the words lose their meaning, can you imagine saying some of those words 50 years ago?!.. It annoys me that some very vulgar words have been desencitized and overused and are no common in every day conversations between young people.. some words that just hearing them makes me feel very uncomfortable and I'm definately not going to repeat them here, but I'm sure you know what words (and one word in particular) that I'm talking about.
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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Wed Apr 01, 2009 5:17 pm

Kid Setzer wrote:
I think some people (especially younger people that don't understand the origins of a word) use that type of slang they don't realise what it actually means.. Like when a kid might say 'Man that class was so gay', they don't realise what it even means because it's been desencitized so much.. even before that, to be gay was to be happy and joyful! I think this is what has happened in guitarmaniac's case, as the word has been desencitized so much that it has been given a new meaning and definition.. The word 'fag' gets used alot by young people to describe people acting like idiots and disrespecting others, I don't think alot of young people actually know what it means and how the word has been used in the past.

Don't forget that English isn't Chris's first language. His English is that good, you tend to forget that fact.
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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:26 pm

Slim Jon Phantom wrote:
I'm not really sure about my comments but as far as I've seen in a couple of docummentaries, I must say that in its originis (R&R, R'billy) were racists, not in the lyrics, but in what concers musicians. I've heard that many hit songs reached No 1 just because they were re-recorded by white artists, when the original performes were black. I wouldn't say this is "racism" at all but one of the reasons for that re-recording is said to be that people would be thrilled if they discovered that the original artists were black.

Am I right?? Anyone has any idea about this??

Hmm...interesting point. I don't think the performers were racists, per se. However I do think that the success of the white recording artists, above and beyond that of the black recording artists was just a sign of the times back then. Remember that segregation in the U.S. did not end until the 60's, and most of the early rock and roll happened in the mid to late 50's.

The whole story depicted in "Hairspray", (dancing with the "black" kids during detention, and the whole story line involved with that) was closer to the truth than some people realize. My mom lived in that whole era, and the stories that she can tell are amazing.

But as far as current Rockabilly folks being racist...my experience is that most of the people I've met are genuine people. Of course, there's always the "posers", but I think they're easy to spot and to avoid.Cool

Interesting discussion topic!
hrg
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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:23 pm

I loved the original Hairspray movie-Divine was wonderful in it Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:39 am

Guitarmaniac wrote:
You got it Kid. I must have heard it on some TV show, probably Southpark or something like that pale


Man, you donīt have to ground yourself now. It is just an expression. You did nothing wrong.
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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:34 am

Actually, what he said was wrong, but it was a mistake, and not intended to hurt anyone. He has explained the misunderstanding, and we're all moving on.

I completely understand the misunderstanding, but that particular word was especially inappropriate on this thread, and I felt I needed to point it out, in case there was something lost in translation.

I would highly recommend the non-native English-speaking members of our community avoid learning their English from "South Park."

Mr. Hankey-billy
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PostSubject: Re: Racism in rock-a-billy   Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:01 am

Rickabilly wrote:

I would highly recommend the non-native English-speaking members of our community avoid learning their English from "South Park."


Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing


You are right.







They should actually learn it from "The Simpsons".
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