Rock and roll music has its roots in the black music tradition, but by the end of the 1970s, the color of the music changed. It’s a commonly held belief that the more prominent bands in the genre are not diverse. When asked to name a non-white artist, many would probably name solo musicians Jimi Hendrix or Prince. However, a number of influential rock bands have had members and frontmen who were racially diverse. Keep reading to find out the which of these bands had the biggest impact on music.
A punk rock group composed only of African-Americans, Bad Brains stood out for their blending of styles and lightning fast speed. They brought together metal, reggae and hardcore with punk rock and somehow made it work. They also stood out for their positive music in a genre that was mostly about discontent and hateful lyrics. Their work and existence not only broke racial barriers, but smashed the boundaries of rock music, inspiring bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers along the way.
Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine was a band known for its political activism, including support for immigrants. Its sound, combining rock and rap, was pioneering. As were its members. Tom Morello, the band’s guitarist, was born to a white mother and Kenyan father in New York. Vocalist Zack de la Rocha was born Zacharias Manuel de la Rocha to a Mexican father in California. His father was both Mexican and Jewish, making him one of the more prominent musicians to come from a racially diverse background.
Love the Band’s music was also ahead of its time and is credited with influencing many bands that came after. The iconic black musician Arthur Lee was its frontman and brought his influence to Shack the Band after he left Love. Love can be credited as one of the 1960s most influential bands, and also inspired other future greats like Jim Morrison with their original sound.
The lead singer of Killswitch Engage for 10 years, Howard Jones, is a hardcore metal rocker who so happens to be black. He’s also led the Blood Has Been Shed metalcore band with his fellow Killswitch Engage musician. This artist is known for his amazing vocal range and is consistently rated as one of the best metal vocalists of all time. His ability to produce both a powerful scream or melodic tones as the song requires is a skill very few can boast of possessing.
Guns N’ Roses
Slash from the long-running hard rock band Guns N’ Roses comes from musical parents. His mother was African-American and his father was British. This musician has been recognized as the most accomplished guitarist, not just in rock, but in all music genres. His part in the GN’R hit “Sweet Child O’ Mine” is listed in the top guitar riffs of all time. His contribution to the song also helped place it in the list of most influential songs ever made.