Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World

Nearing completion, Axis: Bold as Love needed cover graphics, so Jimi Hendrix was asked, “What do you want the gatefold to look like?” and he responded, “Make it something Indian!” When he first saw the completed sleeve, his reaction was “What the fuck!” because he’d been misunderstood and the cover reflected Hindu mysticism. Now I get it, because according to this documentary Hendrix was part Cherokee and had taken to wearing fringe and feathers by the time of Woodstock! Robbie Robertson, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Pat and Lolly Vegas, Jesse Ed Davis and Mildred Bailey (who was the inspiration for Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby) all jockey for breathing room in this spotlight about pioneering Native Americans and their contributions to this missing chapter in music history. “Be proud to be Indian but be careful who you tell” was the mantra up through Link Wray, who begins this revelatory account; his guitar was a smoke signal to the future that resulted in punk and heavy metal’s distorted tones.  Charley Patton whose showmanship is evident in Howlin’ Wolf and Hendrix, shook his guitar like playing a drum, which is seen as an instrument of insurrection used to organize people in opposition! Laws used to control Native people were also used to erase much of their musical contribution, beginning with The Ghost Dance Massacre which sought to make Native Americans impervious to bullets but instead gave them invisibility, so that they could pass for black and keep off the reservations. Interviews with David Fricke, Martin Scorsese, Steve Salas and John Trudell open up cultural input from the early Delta blues through the popularity of Randy Castillo playing with Ozzy and Motley Crue in this long overdue account of a culture manifest as throaty passion, volatility and rhythm which remains a force in today’s sound!