by Marlon West (FB: marlon.west1 Twitter: @marlonw IG: stlmarlonwest Spotify: marlonwest)
Back in the fall of 1981 when I was in my first semester at Columbia College, I became friends with a fellow from a Chicagoland suburb.
He was a dyed-in-the-wool Rolling Stones fan. One afternoon their version of “Just My Imagination” played on the radio near us. I recall mentioning it was a Temptations cover, and with some level of indignation, he told me that Jagger and Richards wrote EVERY song The Stones performed.
I was shocked. We were decades away from being able to Google such matters at the moment. I was forced to leave him to the dubious opinion. I can only hope in the decades since that he’s come to know better.
Not only was that song a cover but the Rolling Stones, for better or worse, have been the heralds of Blues and R&B for generations of Americans who would rather enjoy Black music through the filter of whiteness.
Here is AfroStones, a collection of essential songs performed by Black artists that the Rolling Stones covered.
You will find Chuck Berry, Robert Johnson, The Drifters, and Solomon Burke to name a few. Throughout this collection, the original songs are presented back to back with the Stone’s covers.
Needless to say, along with touring as the opening act for Little Richard, the Stones learned a lot from these songs and built a 50-year career on them.
Mick Jagger has long acknowledged his debt to Black America, but is not a one-way street. This collection also features Black artists covering the Stones.
Sharon Jones, Musiq Soulchild, Etta James, and others. Merry Clayton, who’s featured prominently on “Gimme Shelter”, is present with her own version of the Stones classic.
I’ve also included tracks by De La Soul, Little Simz, Snoop Dogg, and others that feature samples of their music.
As Muddy Waters said in an interview, “They stole my music, but they gave me my name.” Yet he also provided them with their name when they adopted the title of his song, “Rollin’ Stone.”
And as always, stay safe, sane, and kind.
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