Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Back At The Armory

It must have been about 1961. My mom took me to the armory in Tampa again to see a rock'n'roll show. It was the Sam Cooke Show. On the bill with Sam was LaVern Baker, Marv Johnson and Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. What a show! I like to think that I never had any racial prejudice of any kind. We all do.

When Sam took the stage in a white jacket the young black girls screamed, wept and tore at their hair. It had never occurred to me that the African American culture had their own separate sex idols. Of course Sam was part of the beginning of all this. The music business had attempted to keep it safe with the first rock'n'roll stars. Fats? Loveable, no threat. Little Richard? Beautiful, less threat. Chuck? He teasingly toyed with us but always played it sly.

Now Sam had put together his own brand of lurid appeal during his gospel years. Thanks to Mr. Guralnick's exhaustive research we know all about that.

Oh, the white girls loved him, too, but he just burned right through those young black girls' hearts. Lotta' wet seats in the armory that night and it wasn't just tears.

That show changed my perception of rock'n'roll and it altered my views on equality. Sam would have loved that.


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