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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  • I’d expect a BRC founding date on there.

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

  • ep

    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…


  • ep

    just thought of one more…

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



  • 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.


  • 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)

  • ep

    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….)

  • 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. . .:-)

  • Josh Allain

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

  • 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!

  • LaTasha

    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.

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

  • 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!

  • 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!


  • 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!


  • Edwin

    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.


  • Rob,

    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.


  • 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’…


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

  • Don Palmer

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

  • 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.


  • 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!

  • 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)

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

  • Kirby

    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.

  • 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?

  • You can check her out at

    Talk to you soon!

  • 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:


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

  • Paul P.

    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.

  • Ninmic7

    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…

  • Honeychild8rm

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

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

  • Joseph Scott

    Hi Rob, all the known rock and roll recordings made before mid-1949, such as “Rock The Joint” by Jimmy Preston, “Rock And Roll” by Wild Bill Moore, and “Man Eater” by Jay McNeely, are by black artists. As of 1949 (and to a lesser extent 1948) the rock and roll sound was a fad sound on the black national charts, as heard in e.g. the top ten chart hit “Boogie At Midnight” by Roy Brown. Erline “Rock And Roll” Harris was using that nickname publicly in print when she made the rock and roll recording “Jump And Shout” in 1949. _Billboard_ magazine used the language “rocker” and “instrumental rocker” to describe black rock and roll music in 1949 (e.g. called the rocker “Hole In The Wall” by Albennie Jones a “rocker” in its review of it). The black jazz musicians Red Tyler and Buddy Tate when interviewed a few decades later recalled that quote “rock and roll” became popular in about 1949 (because it did). Wynonie Harris said he considered himself a rock and roll musician (because he was).

    Rock and roll by artists who weren’t black basically started in the year 1950, e.g. “Oh Babe” by Kay Starr, which was a top ten hit on the pop charts in 1950. The Dominoes (“Sixty-Minute Man,” also a hit on the pop charts) were described in print as “Rock and Roll performers” in 1951. Leroy White’s Detroit show “Rockin’ With Leroy” was playing rock and roll years before Alan Freed got interested in rock and roll too in 1951. The black poet Al Young recalled black parents not approving of White’s show (paralleling what happened later when a significant number of white kids got interested in rock and roll too). In the ’50s, the country musician Merle Travis made a reference to Bill Haley making R&B — which made perfect sense, because rock and roll was a kind of R&B (only invented in 1946 or 1947), and Haley started recording that kind of R&B, mixed with some country, in 1951. (Rock and roll mixed with country became known as rockabilly, and the earliest example of rockabilly I know of is Hardrock Gunter’s “Birmingham Bounce” on the Bama label in 1950.)

    Much of the mythology that’s been written by so many about rock and roll somehow starting in roughly 1954 has been because of interest in Elvis Presley — which is ironic because Presley said repeatedly to the press that black artists made rock and roll way before he did. Sam Phillips’ and Little Richard’s self-serving stories have also confused people. Sam hadn’t even opened his studio, and Richard hadn’t yet recorded anything, when e.g. “Rock The Joint” by Chris Powell came out on the major label Columbia in 1949.

    There are far more rock and roll recordings by black artists from 1950-1953 than is generally realized. Some examples:
    “We’re Gonna Rock This Joint” The Jackson Brothers
    “Honey Hush” Big Joe Turner
    “Please Don’t Leave Me” Fats Domino
    “Hard Rock” Red Prysock
    “Rockin’ Is Our Bizness” The Treniers
    “Rock H-Bomb Rock” H-Bomb Ferguson
    “Have You Gone Crazy” Earl King
    “Move On Down The Line” Earl Hooker
    “How About Rocking With Me” Piney Brown
    “Strange Kinda Feeling” Elmore James
    “Where Did You Stay Last Night” Arthur Crudup
    “Drag Race” Joe Houston
    “Boogie Bop” Pee Wee Crayton
    “I’m Gonna Rock Some More” Piano Red
    “Bootleggin’ Baby” Roy Brown
    “Better Be On My Way” Larry Darnell
    “I’m The Fat Man” John Greer
    “Cherry Wine” Jimmy Lewis
    “Play Girl” Smiley Lewis
    “We’re Gonna Rock This Morning” Doles Dickens