Sunday, July 5, 2009
Electric Purgatory: The Fate of the Black Rocker
I saw a great documentary the other night on Ovation TV. The doc aptly titled Electric Purgatory: The Fate of the Black Rocker consists of a series of interviews with well-known Black musicians like Vernon Reid and Questlove as well as members of unsung and underpublicized African-American rock groups like Bad Brains, Fishbone, King's X, Burnt Sugar and 24/7 to name a few. This documentary was an eye-opener in showcasing groups like King's X who toured with Jane's Addiction but never attained the recognition or success that Jane's achieved. The truth is for every Living Color there are hundred of Black rock groups like Burned Sugar who never get their due. And then there's the sublime brilliance of Fishbone. I remember seeing their mind-blowing performance on Saturday Night Live. I also remember asking myself months and years after that performance "Whatever happened to Fishbone." Fishbone like the other groups featured in this documentary were victims of the corporate robber barons of the musical industry who placed profit over originality. After watching this documentary what amazes me is that despite this slight by the music industry, which denied them the praise and recognition they obviously deserved, these musicians harbor no bitterness or defeatism and continue to play from their soul. It is these musicians who will keep the torch lit for future generations of all races who will discover their music and be inspired to create their own.