20 Incredible Black Artists In Rock

February 1, 2019
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Rock first originated from the blues, the genre, like many musical genres came from the heart and souls of African Americans. For many music fans, popular black artists in rock are usually centered around Jimi Hendrix, Prince and Chuck Berry. But we wanted to shine a light on several other black rockers both past and present whose musical impact continues to shape rock n' roll as we know it.

1. Jimi Hendrix

As far as fans, fellow musicians, and even his contemporaries are concerned, Hendrix is and always shall be the GOAT of rock guitarists. With songs like "Purple Haze," "Hey Joe," and "Foxy Lady," as well as playing the "Star Spangled Banner" at Woodstock, and even setting his own guitar on fire, Hendrix do doubtly cemented himself as one of the first of many rock icons.

2. Chuck Berry

Hailed by many as the true father of rock n' roll, Chuck Berry's musical contributions started as ripples but turned into waves as he served as a major inspiration for many artists to come like the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

3. Slash of Guns N' Roses

Who could forget a character like Slash? The giant tophat, big sunglasses, hair covering his eyes, and a true guitar hero. Slash's guitar playing style is one that helped forge the iconic sound of Guns N' Roses: hot and firey like a blazing pistol, yet beautiful and melodic with a little sting like a rose.

4. Prince

As if being a cultural icon who could move seamlessly through musical genres like rock, pop and r&b was hard enough. Try doing it all in high heels! Prince's musical catalogue is so enormous that it is believed that his vault contains hundreds of hours of unreleased music.

5. Fats Domino

Throughout the 1950s and early 60s, Domino would dominate the R&B and Pop charts approximately 122 times, and he sold more records than Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Little Richard put together. The only other artist to outsell Domino at the time was Elvis Presley, who held him in high regard by calling him the "real king of rock and roll."

6. Little Richard

Known for his high-energy and charismatic showmanship, Little Richard was another major influence to rock n' roll in the 1950's. Aside from rock, he was also an inspiration for many future r&b and rip-hop artists. He was officially inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

7. Lenny Kravitz

The seemingly ageless Lenny Kravtiz continues to forge a path made from his own unique style of rock, funk, r&b, soul and reggae. Plus, he can hold his own on the guitar next the Prince!

8. Gary Clark Jr.

He's one of the greatest guitarists of this generation and he really knocked it out of the park with his cover of "Come Together" by the Beatles for the Justice League film. Gary Clark Jr. first caught audience's attention with his 2012 song "Bright Lights," and has spotted sharing the stage with musical greats like Eric Clapton. Now he's creating waves with his politically-charged single "This Land."

9. RUN DMC

Other than being the faces of hip-hop in the '80s, Darryl McDaniels, Reverend Run and Jam Master Jay fused rock into many of their songs like "King Of Rock," "Rock Box," and "It's Tricky" as well as playing half of one of the greatest duets of all time in their collaboration with Aerosmith for "Walk This Way."

10. Tina Turner

Widely regarded as the "Queen of Rock and Roll", Tina Turner's solo career skyrocketed after separating from her abusive husband Ike Turner. She continued to find great success with songs like "What's Love Got to Do with It," "Proud Mary," "The Best," and "Private Dancer."

11. Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust

Lead singer of the alt-metal group Sevendust, Lajon has been recognized as one of the top 100 rock vocalists of all time by Hit Parader. One part soul, one part wrath-filled fury, Witherspoon's voice helped fuel the band's success from the late '90s on.

12. Bad Brains

They were loud, wild and volatile. An unforgettable voice in the DC hardcore punk scene that put on equally unforgettable live shows. It's no wonder how they became a major influence for Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl!

13. Bo Diddley

You can place Bo Diddley next to Chuck Berry as one of the early innovators in rock. Besides for his songs "Hey Bo Diddley," "Who Do You Love," and "I'm A Man," Bo Diddley was also known for playing a signature rectangle-shaped guitar that he built himself!

14. William DuVall of Alice In Chains

Following the death of Layne Staley, DuVall was recruited to be the band's new co-vocalist and guitarist in 2006. Since then the band has released songs like "Your Decision," "Black Gives Way To Blue" and "Check My Brain." 

15. Tommy Vext of Bad Wolves

Vext first emerged into the mainstream eye after serving as Five Finger Death Punch's touring vocalist when frontman Ivan Moody briefly left to enter a rehabilitation facility to receive treatment for his ongoing battle with substance abuse. Vext currently serves as the lead vocalist for the hard rock/metal supergroup Bad Wolves, who recently released a cover of "Zombie" by The Cranberries that was planned to feature the vocals of Dolores O'Riordan before her untimely death.

16. Body Count

One part rap. One part metal. All parts loud and badass. Fronted by Ice T, Body Count has been rocking stages since the early '90s and much of the band's lyrical content speaks from a commentary on modern social issues.

17. Living Colour

Known mostly for their hit song "Cult of Personality," the members of Living Colour have never shied away from biting their tongues on taboo topics in the news while throwing incredible live shows with their own unique blend of alternative metal, funk, rock, punk and jazz. Although the band faded from the public eye in the '90s, they reformed in 2000 and continue to tour the country to this day. 

18. Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy

The Thin Lizzy frontman often regarded Jimi Hendrix as a major musical inspiration and even wrote "Song For Jimi" on the 10th anniversary of the guitarist's death. Thin Lizzy also remains as one of the largest snubs to not receive induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

19. Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave and Prophets of Rage

The son of an Italian/Irish mother and a Kenyan father, Morello founded Rage Against The Machine with frontman Zach de la Rocha in 1991. Aside frm being a very talented guitarist, Morello is a very passionate political activist. 

20. Fishbone

Much like their funk/rock counterparts Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction, Fishbone rose to success out of Los Angeles with their satisfying mixture of punk, ska and reggae and songs like "Everyday Sunshine" and "Ma & Pa."