A Black rock timeline (feedback appreciated)


Here's a timeline that I've been working on.  On top, it includes what I consider to be key moments in Black rock.  On the bottom portion, I'm trying to juxtapose events happening in the larger culture.

I could've gone all the way back to Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, but I thought it might be okay just to start at Chuck Berry's recording of "Maybelline," which is one of three songs of his that made the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame's list of 500 songs that shaped rock 'n' roll.

My question for you all: Am I missing any key events, something that just screams out at you to be included?

Click on the graphic and it should enlarge in a new window on your browser.  Feedback will be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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33 Responses to “A Black rock timeline (feedback appreciated)” Subscribe

  1. Primus Luta January 18, 2009 at 23:48 #

    I’d expect a BRC founding date on there.

  2. Rob Fields January 18, 2009 at 23:51 #

    Thanks, Primus, but I’ve got that. Check out the bottom portion of the chart at 1985: “Black Rock Coalition forms”.

  3. ep January 19, 2009 at 14:26 #

    nice job on the timeline, Rob.

    this might sound picky, but i’d have Jimi’s performance at Monterey (1967) on there, particularly because it was the first time the American rock audience got to see him in full power. (and i’d still keep Woodstock on there, too…but Jimi’s my god, so i’m heavily biased.)

    how ’bout Prince releases “Purple Rain” (movie & album) in 1984?

    on the cultural side, would you consider MLK’s assassination, the formation of the Black Panthers/rise of the Black Power movement, and of course, Obama’s election?

    that’s all i can think of right now…


  4. ep January 19, 2009 at 14:33 #

    just thought of one more…

    P-Funk Earth Tour, 1976. George & co. land the Mothership on stage taking concert performances to a new level.



  5. darryld-az January 19, 2009 at 19:27 #

    You absolutely have to include Public Enemy’s “…Nation of Millions” release in 1988. Beyond the track “She Watch Channel Zero”, the entire album was a big influence on hip-hop and Black rockers alike.


  6. Rob Fields January 19, 2009 at 21:52 #

    Thanks, guys. I’m getting some really valuable input from you all. Likewise, Melvin Gibbs suggested that I add Muddy Waters’ “Electic Mud” (1968), Ivan Julian of Blank Generation, Little Richard (this is a must!), and Ike Turner (Rocket88 & Tina, of course)

  7. ep January 20, 2009 at 06:15 #

    just want to second Darryl’s suggestion about PE’s “Nation of Millions” — that one’s essential, i think.

    “Electric Mud” crossed my mind, too. and i agree, Little Richard is a must. what about Miles releasing “Bitches Brew”?

    (that line’s gonna get longer and longer and longer….)

  8. Rob Fields January 20, 2009 at 09:08 #

    On the next iteration, I’ve got “Electric Mud”, Little Richard and “Tutti Frutti”. For Miles, I’ve just added a note that Miles goes electric. I’m glad Darryl reminded me of “Nation of Millions,” especially “She Watch Channel Zero,” which is a great rock track.

    I realize there’s probably a whole stream that could be developed on Blacks in the punk scene, but I need to get more familiar with that.

    And, yeah, the line is getting longer. . .:-)

  9. Josh Allain January 21, 2009 at 22:50 #

    You left out the metal band God Forbid (4 Blacks & 1 White)! You should check ’em out! They’re awesome!

  10. kelli curry January 22, 2009 at 08:25 #

    hey bro…this looks great! thanks for sharing it. i would say you might want to consider including the founding of chess records somewhere in the 50’s as well as the re-emergence of tina turner as straight up rock and roll superstar in the 80’s…

    just thoughts, always love your work…happy new year!

  11. LaTasha January 22, 2009 at 09:23 #

    Hey Rob

    Looking good but I gotta say the testosterone is heavy.
    I would assume that Willie Mae’s “Hound Dog” had some significance.
    If this is not American exclusive, Skunk Anansie.
    Then to go back to maleness of things, Rick James in Canada and after Canada.
    Er Prince. Um Dead Kennedys.
    I’ll stop here.

  12. Rob Fields January 22, 2009 at 10:29 #

    I’m not familiar with them, Josh, but thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely check them out!

  13. Rob Fields January 22, 2009 at 10:35 #

    Thanks, LaTasha. You make an excellent point about the male-heaviness of the timeline. I definitely want to include more women on it. Over on Facebook, someone reminded me about Betty Davis, Labelle (even though I’ve got Nona), Grace Jones. Kelli (above) suggested Tina Turner (gotta include her!). And, you’re right, too, about Skin

    I also think that both Janelle and Santogold warrant inclusion. So, yeah, there will be another iteration of all this.

    Really appreciate the feedback!

  14. Rob Fields January 22, 2009 at 10:38 #

    So good to hear from you, Kelli! Thanks for these suggestions. In response to the request for feedback on Facebook, someone definitely suggested that I include Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, so Chess Records and Etta James makes sense, too. Tina in the 80s is definitely a good look.

    I will reach out to you separately, as I want to pick your brain on what the scene is like there in Chicago.

    Thanks so much, and talk soon!


  15. spazecrafte one January 22, 2009 at 13:19 #

    terrence trent darby
    Africa Bambatta’s early collaborations with Arthur Baker, Johnny Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten from sexpistols) plus the whole Soul Sonic Force’s garb & costuming pulled greatly from the mashed up 60’s psychedelic era..

    what Bam did for hip hop was taking all the current trends in music & mashing up… remember Arthur Baker produced a bunch of the early New Order (technically “new wave” but still considered part of the “new rock” experience).

    you gotta put Caroline “Honeychild” Colman in there too, from the black punk angle, shes a shoe in…

    hummm thats it for now, & i agree, there are not enough women in the mix, im sure there are others we are just not surfacing…

    oh yeah, come on, how could we forget Saul? williams that is… with his defamerica release with Rick Ruben…

    the toasters were kinda on that rock meets ska tip right??

    be easy!
    free digital mix tapes for everyone! subscribe!


  16. Edwin January 22, 2009 at 13:25 #

    Hi Rob,

    The dates are a great snapshot. I see the introduction of Ipod, but The introduction of MP3’s / Napster definitely created a great shift in the music industry. (Date??)

    My overall comment for the online version of this timeline is: It would be nice to be able to rollover the timeline and (at the user’s option) here a sample of the music. (Work it out with RIAA, use Imeem, etc) It would help to expose more people to Black Rock other than avid followers who are familiar with the sound.


  17. Gregory J Amani Smith January 22, 2009 at 14:00 #


    The Assassination of Malcolm X, I would also add 1968-the Psychedelic Souling of Motown. West Coast bands like Sly and the Family Stone forming. Though I’m not a big Jay Z fan, I would add his collaborations with rock bands (I can’t remember of the top of my head with who at the moment). Prince’s name change I think is one of the major signals of the Black Rock independence (and I don’t think he gets enough credit). Film moments also would be cool. There is a great book called Revolution in the Head by Ian MacDonald (Beatles in the 1960s)that has a great appendix that does a similar thing. I think that would be a good reference for you. I just started following your blog. Keep up the good work. BTW I remember you from the BRC in the 1990’s I use to do the WBAI Radio Show “Crosstown Traffic”. Stay in touch. I will reach out to you on Facebook.


  18. Darrell M. McNeill January 22, 2009 at 17:28 #

    Fishbone’s eponymous first EP drops, 1985; Jimi Hendrix Experience breaks up, Band of Gypsys founded, 1968; Billy Preston appears on “The White Album,” 1968; The Talking Heads release “Speaking In Tongues,” in 1983 with backing cast of Black all-stars, including Nona Hendryx, Bernie Worrell, Wally Badarou, Alex Weir and Dollette McDonald; Sly & The Family Stone founded, 1966; Richard Hell & The Voidoids release “Blank Generation,” 1977; Arthur Lee & Love founded in 1965; Curtom Records founded, 1968; Sam Cooke creates SAR Records, 1961; Aretha Franklin does the legendary Muscle Shoals sessions and releases her Atlantic debut “I Never Loved A Man The Way That I Love,” in 1967; Rufus’ self-titled album drops in 1973; The Isley Brothers release the single “Shout” on RCA in 1957; Stax Records is founded, 1957; Ray Charles signs with Atlantic Records, 1952; Prince releases “For You,” 1978, Nina Simone drops her US debut, “Little Girl Blue” in 1958; Nina Simone releases “Young, Gifted and Black” in 1970; The Last Poets are formed in 1968; …

    That’s enough for now, otherwise, I’ll be here all night. I echo Latasha: You need more women representin’…


  19. Rob Fields January 22, 2009 at 18:02 #

    This is great, Darrell. And I hear you guys loud and clear about the women. Stay tuned for the next iteration.

  20. Don Palmer January 23, 2009 at 11:33 #

    Rob. What about Stax records and Wattstax concert? And doesn’t Curtis Mayfield have some sort of spot here?

  21. Sandra St. Victor January 24, 2009 at 02:37 #

    Hey Rob, this is a wonderful thing you’re doing here!
    A little ‘horn tootin’ for The Family Stand. “Moon In Scorpio” was released in 1991. I like to think it has become an essential in any complete black rock collection.
    Of course I might be a bit biased.


  22. Rob Fields January 24, 2009 at 02:43 #

    You, my dear, are welcome to toot anytime you like. It’s absolutely an essential document, and I have it in version two of this, which I’ve not yet posted.

    Was talking about you tonight because I just saw a singer who made me think of you. Her name is Monica Blaire. She’s out of Detroit. She’s got a strong, clear voice and, like you, she’s not afraid to make the ugly face to get to the note she wants.

    Thanks for the feedback and stay tuned for version 2!

  23. Michael A. Gonzales January 25, 2009 at 16:35 #

    Billy Preston playing with the Beatles.

    One of my faves, Thin Lizzy and their hit the Boys Are Back in Town.

    The Bus Boys release their debut and appear on the TV show “Fridays.”

    Arthur Lee (Love)

  24. Michael A. Gonzales January 25, 2009 at 16:37 #

    LaBelle, Betty Davis, Gloria Jones, Joi, Cree Summer

  25. Kirby January 26, 2009 at 13:29 #

    Hey Rob,

    I have to agree with Michael Gonzales – gotta put Arthur Lee/Love up there. That band influenced the Doors and pretty much all LA psychedelic rock. He was on the scene in ’65 and their first record came out in ’66. “Love 4 Sail” and “Forever Changes” are two of the best rock records ever. Also, fashion and inspiration-wise, Lee influenced Hendrix.

  26. Sandra St. Victor January 29, 2009 at 05:20 #

    Thanks Rob 😉

    And a big TOOT TOOT to all the ugly-face making sangers out there!
    I gotta check Monica Blaire, does she have anything out?

  27. Rob Fields January 30, 2009 at 10:26 #

    You can check her out at

    Talk to you soon!

  28. Tavia Nyong'o February 12, 2009 at 16:30 #

    Love it! This is not so much about things to add but a musing about the format of the timeline itself. Are there any options in terms of graphical presentation that, while remaining linear, show lines of influence and connection or in some way make use of two dimensions rather than just one to graphically represent time? Sorry I’m not being clear here, but I’m thinking of stuff like Ed Tufte’s work on graphical representation of quantitative information:


  29. Langston September 9, 2009 at 13:05 #

    You may want to include the release of the Judgment Night soundtrack in 1993. All of those rap/rock pairings.

  30. Paul P. September 19, 2010 at 23:50 #

    I’m late on seeing this.
    Should Sly& the Family Stone be included w/ Jimi @ Woodstock?
    The formation of the BRC.
    Band of Gypsys? Band of Gypsys was revolutionary break even if Sly&… was the first funk rock band. (were they??)
    The first Lollapalooza? Living Colour & Ice T both played it.

  31. Ninmic7 September 22, 2010 at 12:57 #

    Michael Jackson on MTV? I don’t know if that’s rock, but I also don’t know that’s the 1st hip hop moment you have on your timeline…that’s not even the most important or 1st west coast album. what about the formation of the zulu nation? miles davis dropping…well…just pick any album from 65-70. Herbie Hancock is hired to create the music for Fat Albert and then is rejected for music being too radical. The result is the album Fat Mama Rotunda. We are the World (2 black people organized, wrote and produced…). 6 in the morning drops (Ice-T,1st real west coast hip hop single), then Straight Outta Compton takes over…I can’t decide on all the east coast hip hop moments you”ve missed. Living Colour – first all black band to reach whatever spot on Billboard since whoever…golden age of hip hop 1989 – 1994, death of Biggie and 2Pac ends violent feuding in the east/west beef. What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye convinces Barry Gordy to release the 1st black protest concept album and it becomes the greatest seller the company ever has and paves the way for more protest albums

    The point is, besides the1st moment, You’ve pretty much missed it all. Before you add on to what you have, grab a cheap record player and then hit a thrift store and buy everything you can with a black face on it. Then, get a calendar. Don’t get me wrong…at least you’re doing something, but you need to decide if you want an abbreviated timeline with the big stuff or if you wanna get into detail with a much longer one. either way, you gotta lotta work ahead of you…you’re missing huge chunks and entire genres…

  32. Honeychild8rm October 16, 2010 at 04:05 #

    I would add Arthur Lee & LOVE, The Dirtbombs, Betty Davis and Thin Lizzy

  33. wireless programmable thermost February 23, 2011 at 04:19 #

    After becoming Black Rock Shooter, Kuroi is in some sort of gloomy ….. Any feedback would be appreciated, or you could just go directly to ..

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