Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was born Rosetta Nubin in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, March 20, 1915. She grew up singing in The Church Of God In Christ, picked up a guitar somewhere along the way and went on to become one of the most popular gospel singers of the 40's, (and the first to attempt to "cross over" joining the Lucky Millinder Orchestra with whom she cut four sides in 1948). She cut a series of amazing discs for Decca, many with Sammy Price on piano, including my favorite-- Strange Things Happen Every Day. She was a flamboyant figure, fond of feathered boas and exotic hats, and she played a style of guitar that we, today, recognize as rock'n'roll (as evidenced by the clips here, she adhered to Jim Dickinson's theory that tuning was a "decadent and European" concept). After leaving Decca she recorded some good sides for Savoy (including amazing duets with with Marie Knight who just passed away) and Mercury's Wing subsidiary, among other labels, and after her popularity waned, found a second career in Europe where she was wildly popular in the sixties. Diabetes eventually destroyed her health. She had a stroke in 1970, and one of her legs had to be amputated. She died in 1973 in her adopted hometown of Philadelphia. Many early rockers including most notably Carl Perkins have sited her guitar playing as a primary influence on early rock'n'roll. These clips are really wonderful, out of tune guitar and all....

9 comments:

Nick said...

Are you searching the same YouTube I do, Hound? I can never find great clips like that.

I had a guy teach me guitar, used to de-tune my guitar a little bit at the start of every lesson. Rock 'n' roll never quite sounds right when you use an electronic tuner.

Billy said...

youtube, the gift that keeps on giving!

Someone did a book on Sister Rosetta a couple years ago. I got it from the library and was completely underwhelmed. Hers is a great story just waiting to be done RIGHT.

ONE guitar slightly out of tune is okay; anything more than that is a headache.

J.D. King said...

She was the greatest!!!

The silliest sight is a dweeb with his little digital tuner, tuning his little guitar before a show then going on to play... nothing of note.

Hail, hail the out of tune guitar! And someone who can play that thing!

The Hound said...

"Someone did a book on Sister Rosetta a couple years ago. I got it from the library and was completely underwhelmed."

She is discussed in Anthony Heilbut's The Gospel Sound (Revised Edition: Limelight Books, 1985), still the best book on the subject.

roscoe said...

Bravo and thanks Hound,

E/Roscoe

Tor Hershman said...

I started singin' in church and LOOK what happened.....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m6qC6FCiY0

Gene Casey said...

Sleepy LaBeef is another cat who acknowledges Rosetta's influence on southern white kids playing rock & roll: "all Jerry Lee Lewis was doing was playing Sister Rosetta Tharpe runs on his piano!"

garage 66 & mojo repair shop said...

she can play a mean guitar.

migliore accompagnatrici roma said...

It won't truly have success, I believe so.

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