Sunday, September 16, 2007

Gone to Church

This clip of Sister Rosetta Tharpe playing on her Gibson SG and singing Down By the Riverside comes from the Chicago-based TV Gospel Time, and was recorded sometime in the early sixties, well after Tharpe's career peaked in the thirties and forties. A foray into secular music alienated much of her American fan base and drove her to Europe, where her popularity continued in the fifties and sixties. She eventually rejoined the U.S. gospel circuit, and died of a stroke in 1973.

Tharpe's remarkable electric guitar rode the line between gospel and early rock and helped pioneer a sound that would influence the likes of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. The clip below of That's All and Didn't it Rain is from a Chicago Blues All-stars performance at the 1970 Berlin Jazz Festival. I love it when she breaks out on guitar. That's Willie Dixon, Walter Horton, the omnipresent yet under-documented blues pianist Lafayete Leake, Lee Jackson, and long-time Bo Diddley drummer Clifton James playing with her.

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