A couple of viewings of Morgan Neville’s latest documentary ‘Under The Influence’ are well recommended to any Rolling Stones fan. It’s a beautifully crafted insight into the roots of one of Britain’s greatest Rock musicians…Keith Richards.
One of Keith’s major contributions is helping wake up America to it’s own music … the Blues.
Watch this movie and you get an idea of just how ‘underground’ Black American blues used to be in years gone by. Of course, some it had filtered into the Rock ‘n’ Roll of the 50’s and of particular influence was Chuck Berry on all of the Rolling Stones.
However, British bands of the early 1960’s, most notably the Rolling Stones, became ‘music opinion leaders’ and their love of the blues, helped awake mainstream interest in the records of Muddy Waters & Howlin Wolf back in the USA.
“Under the influence” gives a clear idea of how ‘the blues’ and ‘country music’ had merged together in the 1950’s to become Rock & Roll.
BRITISH ROCK MUSIC: British R & B bands of the early 60’s spent much time re-interpreting electric guitar with all the back catalogue of an ‘underground’ guitar music known as the Blues. Maybe, it’s this love of ‘the underground’ that always helps British bands acquire such a unique, rawer and independent sound…….
CITIES & MUSIC HERITAGE: Poingnant is Keith’s visit to The Grand Ole Opry (the birthplace of country music) and a venue that has been mentioned alongside EALING by certain American Academics. Located in Nashville, the venue where Elvis Presley and many others christened their careers remains a draw to music fans. Nashville really makes the most of what it has.
Ironically, similar visits to locations in Chicago (Chess Records and Muddy Water’s old house) seem to indicate that the windy city just like London has failed to make any use of it’s own music heritage.
LONDON MUSIC HERITAGE : LONDON addresses and locations are all but absent from UNDER THE INFLUENCE. Obviously, it was AMERICAN MUSIC that switched on Keith and all other British youth of the 50’s & 60’s and this is what this particular film highlighted.
Elsewhere, Keith has remembered his homeland and his biography ‘Life’ clearly illustrates that. As part of the the promotion for his latest album ‘Crosseyed Heart’ a temporary blue plaque to celebrate the guitarist’s first ever public performance was mounted in Ealing. It remains to be seen where a permanent marker will be placed. However, Keith is far too young for a blue plaque anyway…..
It’s quite clear Ealing & West London were key in shaping his early career. These places would no doubt inspire many musicians from subsequent generations on their visits to the UK.
Finally, check out the sequence of how ‘Street Fighting Man’ was written and give a thought to other Ealing scene pioneers such as Nicky Hopkins (Born in Perivale, Ealing Borough) and the founding member of the Rolling Stones, (Ian Stewart). They were never far away from making the music.