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Miller Plans to Black Out Rock N Roll

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It was reported by the Associated Press last week that Miller Brewing Company was going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rock N Roll by placing eight pictures...

... of famous entertainers who made this music great on special commemorative bottles.

They were doing this in conjunction with Rolling Stone Magazine by using the picture of Elvis Presley, Blondie and others none of which happen to be Black. This of course brought an outcry from some followers of Rock N Roll because it made no sense to leave out the musicians who invented the music.

Well the West Coast Black Publishers are no exception and they voted last Friday that this was very discriminatory on the part of Miller Brewing. They acknowledge that Miller has in the past been somewhat supportive of the Black community and wonder if the new South African ownership of the company might be the reason we are being left out of the recognition. Many ask the question, how could you celebrate the music and leave the originators out? It would be like celebrating Independence Day without recognizing the authors of the Declaration of Independence.

Now we have nothing against Elvis Presley or Willie Nelson, but how could people like Blondie, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, Eric Clapton or Joe Walsh stack up against giants like Fats Domino, Little Richard, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Lou Rawls, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson just to name a few of the crossover talent. Crossover meaning they were acceptable to the majority community. There were other Black entertainers who were high on the White youth list, but their parents would not let them listen to their music in public.

In some parts of the country, Black music was referred to as “race music” and other parts of the country it was called Negro or Black music. In the south, for example, Blacks and Whites could go to hear Fats Domino sing under the same roof as long as there was a rope down the center of the audience so the races would not mix. Sounds crazy now, but that is the way it was then. Our music was referred to as Rhythm and Blues, Soul, Boogie Woogie, Blues and Jazz. In order for the majority of Whites to accept our music, the Rock N Roll title was coined as a new music.

And now we have Miller Brewing Company and the Rolling Stone Magazine celebrating the beginnings of Rock N Roll and not even mentioning the originators of the music. This is how our Black history as been eradicated from all of our public education and points to the need for Black newspapers and other Black-owned media in America. It also points to who we should or shouldn’t do business with. Fifty years ago in 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ended segregated education.

In 1949 Fats Domino cut his first record “The Fat Man.” Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Johnny Ace, Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, The Ink Spots, Marion Anderson, Little Willie John, Bobby Blue Bland, Brook Benton, Louis Armstrong, Paul Robeson, Jackie Wilson, Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, Sammy Davis, Jr., Johnny Mathis, Harry Belafonte, to name a few, were putting the planks into place for Rock N Roll. Elvis’ Blue Suede shoes had already been recorded by Carl Perking, Pattie Page’s recording of Fever had already been recorded by Little Willie John and was a top hit in the Black community. Another Elvis hit was Hound Dog and Rosetta Thorpe had sent that dog out to pasture by the time Elvis brought it to the Ed Sullivan Show and White America.

Nationally the Black community spent in excess of $1 billion on beer and ale as take home and roughly $262 million in bars and taverns per year. According to a 2002 report from Target Market News, here in the Inland Empire we spend in excess of $34 million at home and over $8.9 million in bars and taverns.

I wonder how Miller would feel if all the beer drinkers who are Black decided to put only Budweiser, Coors, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Heineken in their refrigerators during sporting events. This is something each person must consider for themselves and in light of the fact that Miller is ignoring us, maybe we should ignore them.

To contact Hardy Brown email: hardybrown@blackvoicenews.com or call (909) 888-5040.

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