Nearly everyone in the world can rattle off the great African-American musical forms. Jazz, blues, R&B, soul, hip-hop, house, gospel. One influential genre is always left off of the
list: a folk music known as rock n' roll. Rock n' roll was a term originally coined to market the white-friendly version of a genre that already existed; prior to 1965, the line between
rock n' roll and R&B was thin: Ike Turner recorded and released "Rocket '88' " in 1951 and, while its Chess Records release reached number one on the Billboard R&B chart, it is
regarded by many as the first rock n' roll record.
The Great Divide between R&B and rock n' roll came after the Beatles and the British Invasion decimated the Top 40 chart in 1964. Simultaneously, R&B entered a new phase, soon
to be labeled "soul," which upped the music's gospel quotient and turned its frantic twang. So somewhere in the mid to late-1960s, rock n' roll became perceived as something for
the Caucasian kids. When Jimi Hendrix and Arthur Lee made the scene, they were said to be black musicians entering into a white world. While that couldn't be farther from the truth,
that false dichotomy has existed in America's popular conscious ever since, to the point where the idea of a black rock musician is on the level with the idea of a black cowboy.