A tribute to two Rosetta’s

On January 15, 2011 by Queasy Joe Perry

So my plan of going to bed early was rudely interrupted by a fantastic one hour tribute show to Sister Rosetta Tharpe on BBC4.

The real forbearer of rock and roll, Rosetta sang with the fire and conviction of a gospel preacher and played guitar lines that would surely make Lonnie Johnson, Chuck Berry and Hendrix weep and leap for joy. Her controversial life began as innocent young church singer, meandering into a performer of secular music and the subsequent release of many popular records, before she found her platform as a true star, bringing gospel attitude and passion into the popular mainstream. Falling out of favour with American audiences (after Elvis stole her thing), she enjoyed a second career wind across the UK and the rest of Europe before passing away in 1973 following a stroke.

She did it her way, sang it and played it her way, and blew all of our minds in the process. Her feature on BBC4 ended with a clip of her final performance, a clip which I’m not at all ashamed to say left me with a frog in my throat and a tear in my eye. That was the thing about Rosetta, she could make you stand up and shake your ass one minute, and cry the next.

When I got my first car, I sat inside, took it for a drive, trying to think of the name which should be bestowed on her. I quickly realised she was the kind of car which teetered on the edge of disaster, broke all rules of safety, didn’t give a damn which way you wanted to go, pretty much did as it pleased and challenged regular perceptions of the norm. I knew then there was only one name for her. Unfortunately my Rosetta succumbed to a fire, and has now left my life. But I can still enjoy the music and videos of the beautiful Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Many fans at the time thought crossing the line of sacred and secular just shouldn’t work

Many friends at the time thought my car just shouldn’t work

I guess both Rosetta’s proved a lot of people wrong…

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