Etta James was a pioneer. Through a career that spanned more than six decades, James' raw, unharnessed voice crossed genres, with Fifties hits such as "The Wallflower" and "Good Rockin' Daddy" cementing her role in the genesis of rock and roll alongside Chuck Berry, Ray Charles and Little Richard, and her soulful pop and blues explorations of the Sixties ranking with the works of Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday. She continued to make her mark through 2011, with a string of award-winning, critically acclaimed releases that showcased her unique style.
James was born Jamesette Hawkins in Los Angeles in 1938. Although brought up in the church singing in the gospel choir, she was drawn to rhythm and blues, and rock and roll, and by her mid-teens had formed a vocal trio named the Creolettes that worked up an answer song to Hank Ballard’s “Work With Me Annie” entitled “Roll With Me Henry.” The trio caught the attention of bandleader Johnny Otis, who arranged for the group to record “Roll With Me Henry” (retitled as “The Wallflower”) for Modern Records. Released with the group renamed the Peaches, "The Wallflower" topped the R&B chart for four weeks in 1955 ...
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Solomon Burke was called the “king of rock and soul” only a few years into his career, and decades later his title remains unquestionably valid. A true musical pioneer, his voice was one that brought what we now call rock and roll to the masses, bridging the gap between races, musical genres and even geography. It’s with deep sadness that we now mourn his loss, but his musical legacy will never be forgotten in shaping American history and influencing generations to come.
Related: Solomon Burke: biography, timeline, song clips and photos
As the guiding force behind the British punk pioneers and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren played a key role in changing the course of rock and roll music. McLaren was an expert at creating over-the-top events that would grab the media’s attention, and he used that expertise to make the Sex Pistols a household name in England. And the band, with its raw, aggressive, minimalist style, put punk rock on the map, popularizing a style of music that was in stark contrast to what had been popular at the time.
Read more about the Sex Pistols, listen to song clips and more on the bands' inductee bio page.