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Why Is Everyone Always Stealing Black Music?

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Aug 18, 2019 - 9:45:44 AM



563 posts since 4/12/2004

Below is a link to a great piece in the New York Times about the culture of music.

Why Is Everyone Always Stealing Black Music?

Aug 18, 2019 - 2:59:54 PM

1014 posts since 11/17/2018

I think the callout on the side of the article explains it...

For centuries, black music, forged in bondage, has been the sound of complete artistic freedom. No wonder everybody is always stealing it.

Aug 18, 2019 - 5:43:08 PM
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959 posts since 8/7/2017

The words "theft" and "music" in conjunction make me cringe. I would be proud, not angry, if my musical efforts inspired others to add or subtract or embellish. And I hope the artists who inspire me are pleased.

Aug 18, 2019 - 5:58:47 PM



45594 posts since 10/5/2013
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I always thing of Big Boy Crudup ....

“Crudup’s royalty checks rarely amounted to more than an occasional $10-$15 check. As was common at this time, Melrose listed himself, as well as, Crudup and also received a publishing royalty from the music. Melrose arranged a publishing contract for Crudup with Melrose’s Wabash Music Publishing Company.

Despite successful record sales of Crudup’s songs, Crudup would give up his music career due to financial instability. After unsuccessful attempts to obtain royalties from Melrose, Crudup would go back to manual labor, after recording for other labels, under other names. Many of his songs were successful and were being covered by other blues artists, including Bobby “Blue” Bland, Big Mama Thornton and B.B. King, but he was still not receiving royalties.

In 1954, when a young Elvis Presley recorded Crudup’s “That’s All Right”, Crudup again received national recognition, but still was not receiving royalties. Eventually, Presley would record three of Crudup’s songs; “That’s All Right”, “My Baby Left Me” and “So Glad You’re mine”. Many of Crudup’s songs would become blues standards after being re-recorded by the biggest names in blues and rock n roll, like Johnny Winter, Paul Butterfield, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Canned Heat, Elton John, Rod Stewart among others.’ -  American Blues Scene

Edited by - chuckv97 on 08/18/2019 18:02:09

Aug 18, 2019 - 8:14:03 PM
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102 posts since 1/2/2019

Really? I guess Marion Anderson, the great black American opera singer was "stealing" European culture and music.

The irony is most blacks today want nothing to do with blues. It was whites who kept it alive, Stones, Clapton, SRV, etc. I grew up loving blues and still play fingerstyle today. i don't know, music is music - if it moves you, go for it, learn it. Albert King was my idol - no one plays like him - thought SRV tried. Albert King, Freddie King, BB King, Muddy Waters - they struck a chord in all people, regardless of color.

Aug 20, 2019 - 7:04:05 AM

Banjo Lefty


1743 posts since 6/19/2014

The problem was never that white performers were stealing black music. Culture is common to all people, and music is music, regardless of the source. The problem was (and still is) that white performers steal black musicians' MONEY.

In 1949, the top of the charts was the single "Tzena, Tzena," an Israeli folksong performed by the Weavers, which at the time included Pete Seeger. On the B side of that record was a performance, again by the Weavers, of "Goodnight Irene," which had been written by a black man, Huddie Ledbetter. The Weavers made plenty of $$ from that single; Leadbelly made none.

"Hound Dog" was a smash hit for Elvis, and contributed in no small way to his fortune; Big Mama Thorton, who had originally recorded the song, made only a fraction of the amount.

How much did Flatt & Scruggs pay Charlie Jackson's estate for "Salty Dog?" I don't know, but I'm betting it was zero.

Aug 20, 2019 - 7:10:51 AM
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70675 posts since 5/9/2007

We're all just "Earthlings" making music.

Aug 21, 2019 - 5:59:38 PM

4641 posts since 9/5/2006

mayhem and pillage are what we're good at ,,, can't help it.

terry m

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