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The Big Black Guitar Book: 20 Black Guitarists In America

Oscar Jordan's forth coming book: The Big Black Guitar Book: 20 Black Guitarists In America tells the stories of 20 African American guitarists and their struggle for wisdom, self-expression, and a place within the music world. While white guitarists typically endure fewer obstacles in the pursuit of creating music in genres ranging from country to metal, black guitarists have been historically ushered toward blues, R&B, and jazz.

The indelible image tattooed upon our collective consciousness of white guitarists like Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Steve Vai, and Jack White, are still the go to “types” when casting rock guitarists for television and print advertising. Conversely, blacks are usually relegated to playing bass in non-rock groups. This stereotype is humorously parodied in the animated series South Park when the character Cartman says to Token, “You’re black, you can play bass!”

This strange juxtaposition of image and reality is in contrast to the historic truth of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Ike Turner. With the exception of Slash of Guns N’ Roses (Who is biracial but perceived as white) and Prince, the contributions of Vernon Reid, Tom Morello, and Lenny Kravtiz, aren’t strong enough to shake the stereotype of the rock guitarist.

The Big Black Guitar Book is also about the musical hybrid formed when hard rock and metal is seen through the lens of soul, funk, and R&B. Geared toward music fans and musicians of all ages, The Big Black Guitar Book is a potpourri of personal insights and anecdotes that delves into a corner of musical culture never before discussed. The book includes a brief history of noteworthy black guitarists beginning with 19th century classical composer Justin Holland, and ending with the jazz, funk, and rock contributors of the 1970s. First-person interviews with contemporary African American guitarists from diverse backgrounds, discuss their relationship with the guitar, influences, and career successes.

Written by Vintage Guitar Magazine contributing writer Oscar Jordan, The Big Black Guitar Book is an illuminating look at how the barriers of race are no match for hard work, determination, and a dream. 

Pre-Order The Big Black Guitar Book for $20.