[written by Earl Douglas, Jr. (Executive Director) and Darrell M. McNeill (Director of Operations) of the Black Rock Coalition]

The BRC was formed in the fall of 1985 by Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, artist rep Konda Mason and the late Village Voice writer, musician Greg Tate as a means to fight the racist forces working within the music industry. 

Here is the BRC’s official response to the comments made by Rolling Stone co-founder, Jann S. Wenner:

The Black Rock Coalition emphatically and wholeheartedly condemns Jann Wenner’s thoughtless misogynistic and racist statements in the New York Times (“Jann Wenner Defends His Legacy And His Generation,” September 15, 2023, NYT) regarding women and Black artists. While his comments were beyond reprehensible, they are no major revelation to Black artists who’ve struggled with the White rock establishment from Day One: Wenner only confirmed and re-emphasized how mass media outlets have—and to continue to—whitewash the artistic accomplishments Black folks have made to Rock ‘n Roll and all American popular genres.

None of us should be surprised. Black people no longer have the luxury of being surprised—we haven’t for some time. It’s not like we haven’t seen these adversities that weigh down our culture before—it is an endless tape loop of aggravation and frustration that sucks away at our souls. What’s off-putting is Wenner’s presumption of normalcy and acceptability in his rationale of White, cisgender masculinity as a summit citadel, unassailable to non-White, non-male, non-binary creatives. And while we recognize and acknowledge Rolling Stone’s landmark contributions to rock culture, as one of the magazine’s co-founders, Wenner cultivated within it a culture of indifference to Black contributions to rock music, leading a coterie of rock media platforms that have fomented this attitude: CREEM, Circus, Hit Parader, et. al.

Here’s just some of the receipts:

During the magazine’s ascendence (1967-1978), Rolling Stone did cover stories on Tina Turner (the first Black artist and first Black woman to receive the honor), Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Miles Davis, Little Richard, Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Bob Marley, Carlos Santana, Donna Summer and Labelle. In the political arena, Rolling Stone gave ink to Huey Newton and multiple cover stories for Muhammad Ali.

Legends.  All of them.  But…

At the same time, there were no stories, much less cover stories, devoted to Aretha Franklin, James Brown (he finally got his due in 1989), Stevie Wonder (who wouldn’t be profiled until 1986), Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Earth, Wind & Fire, Minnie Riperton, Parliament-Funkadelic, The Jackson 5, Bill Withers, The Chambers Brothers, Buddy Miles, Donny Hathaway, WAR, The Ohio Players, Teddy Pendergrass, Betty Davis, Mother’s Finest, Joan Armatrading, Shuggie Otis, Richie Havens, Ivan Julian, Garland Jeffreys (among others), who were at their creative and commercial zenith.

The Isley Brothers—one of the founding groups in rock and roll—got one major feature in the late 70s. After putting out successive platinum and double platinum selling rock albums, they called out the White rock establishment for not getting airplay on AOR stations nor getting significant coverage, with largely feckless consideration from the magazine.

Blazing Black rock guitarists like Ernie Isley, Eddie Hazel, Jon Butcher, Tony McAlpine, Phil Upchurch, Jef Lee Johnson, Eddie Martinez and Ronny Drayton—all heirs apparent to Hendrix’ legacy—never got fair hearing.

Rolling Stone all but ignored Shirley Chisholm’s Presidential run, the historic election of Barbara Jordan to the U.S House of Representatives, Carl Stokes and Andrew Young becoming the first black mayor of Cleveland and Atlanta, and Jesse Jackson’s efforts with The Rainbow Coalition and Operation PUSH.

By the time disco, punk and hip hop emerged in the late 70s into the 1980s, Rolling Stone once again, gave little or no lip service. “Disco” was the target of a racist, sexist, homophobic fatwa imposed by the White rock establishment, which hamstrung the ability for Black artists to reach crossover markets.

The magazine couldn’t be bothered with how bands like Death, Pure Hell, X-Ray Spex, and the almighty bad brains were transforming the punk and hardcore scene. They had zero clue on how Don Letts single-handedly introduced reggae into the British punk scene. Or how, in the wake of Bob Marley’s passing, artists like Steel Pulse, Black Uhuru, Peter Tosh and Third World carried the reggae art form forward, or how heavily they influenced Rolling Stone darlings like The Clash, The Police, and The Rolling Stones.

Grace Jones, the radical link between revolutionary Black artists like Labelle and Betty Davis, and multimedia pop divas like Madonna (and, by extension, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Sia and others), never got a cover and was rarely featured.

The magazine resisted hip hop from the outset. Despite having a formidable presence on MTV for three years, it would take Run-DMC’s ‘Raisin’ Hell’ album—with their cover of “Walk This Way,” which resurrected Aerosmith’s flagging career—to totally blow up before Jann green lit a RS cover story.

Rolling Stone missed the train that saw Roxanne Shante, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, giving Black women a strong foothold in the early days of hip hop. The Ladies might have loved Cool James, but LL never got a Rolling Stone cover, yet The Beastie Boys made it three times in the 1990s (despite Cool J putting Rick Rubin, The Beasties guru, on the map).

Wenner resisted giving covers to Michael Jackson and Prince, the two biggest selling artists of anyrace, especially in the 80s. CBS Records head honcho Walter Yetnikoff had to issue similar threats to Wenner as he did to MTV in order for Rolling Stone to give Michael Jackson—who just sold 20 million units of Off The Wall—cover treatment. Prince had to endure racist vitriol and pelting from White fans opening for The Rolling Stones (documented in Billboard in December 1982) and sell 4.5 million copies of 1999 before being deemed worthy of a Rolling Stones cover in 1983.

To be fair, Rolling Stone did show Living Colour and the Black Rock Coalition some love in the late 80s/early 90s (big up to David Fricke for holding Jann’s feet to the fire), gave some dap to Tracy Chapman, Lenny Kravitz, Roland Gift, Robert Cray, and Rage Against The Machine, but it appeared more reactive that proactive.

Had Jann bothered to do a deeper dive, he would’ve discovered dynamic acts such as Fishbone, Sophia’s Toy, 24/7 Spyz, Meshell Ndegeocello, Urban Dance Squad, Kenna, Tasmin Archer, Tamar-Kali, Jean-Paul Bourelly, Kudu, Simi, Georgia Mulgrew, Stew & The Negro Problem, TV On The Radio, The Family Stand, Screaming Headless Torsos, and the late, great, sadly missed Sekou Sundiata, among many, many others.

We can go on ad infinitum, using various parts of various timelines, but the reality is the Jann Wenners of the world never gave Black excellence the consideration it demanded, because it would’ve shattered the myth of this rock n’ roll thing of ours as, frankly, a White construct. Anyone with a brain and access to Google could easily prove otherwise, but this notion has to be held up, pardon the phrase, by any means necessary.

But we know better. Again, Black people no longer have the luxury of being surprised—we haven’t for some time. Which is why we no longer have time for culturally tone deaf and vainglorious gatekeepers like Jann Wenner to validate Black excellence—they never have and they never will. If Black lives matter, then Black culture must matter. It is incumbent upon us all to elevate and support true cultural stewards who know and respect our work and its worth and call all others out on their self-serving contrivances.

To quote our late elder, Gil Scott-Heron, this ain’t no new thing. 


HISTORIC 5/24/23: The Kitchen Spring Gala @ Guastavino’s, NYC

We’re so happy to be building on this relationship again. In celebration of the partnership the BRC had with The Kitchen in our early years (the first-ever BRC Orchestra show was our Apartheid Concert there on Feb 1, 1986), we were asked to be honorary co-chairs for their gala event this year in remembrance of our late co-founder Greg Tate. The Tate Family really came through and managed to hook up a one-night-only performance with Greg’s long-time friends and collaborator Mikel Mwalimu-Banks (Women In Love, Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber) and Harriet Tubman (featuring Melvin Gibbs, JT Lewis, and Brandon Ross). It was beautiful. We are thankful.

IT’S HERE: Download RAVERS—The Black Rock Coalition Arts Magazine, SPECIAL EDITION for GREG TATE (2022)
HISTORIC 6/7 (2022): Private BRC Screening of Sign O’ The Times (NYC)

@ Alamo Drafthouse Theater, Lower Manhattan, June 7, 2022

It’s no secret…we’re Prince fans. When his rollicking concert film “Sign ‘O The Times” turned 35 we had to, not just see it again but, see it on the big screen—singing, dancing and reminiscing along with 60 of our favorite people. We also had some fun giveaways, trivia, prizes, and surprises to sweeten the deal.

A generous donor rented the space out for us, so all ticket prices went directly to the BRC, so we can keep doing what we’ve been doing over the last four decades.



“The hope for a joyous holiday season has been somberly paused as we find ourselves grappling with the sudden and terrible loss of our beloved Greg Tate by cardiac arrest. 


The light in this dark time has been found in reading and hearing the countless reflections, anecdotes, and testaments to inspiration that illuminate how Greg impacted so many lives in addition to our own. Thank you for your statements and outpouring of support. 


They have sustained us at a time of unimaginable grief.  Greg was an amazing son, brother, father, grandfather, uncle, nephew, cousin – a family man in the deepest African sense. He was also a gentle giant of Black  radical thought and creativity, an invaluable friend, and a generous mentor to many. 


We intend to honor him in a manner worthy of his legacy. Within the next several days, our immediate family will hold a private home-going service for Greg. 


In the months ahead, we will explore all the ways we can publicly celebrate his life and works. For that, we will hope for the privilege of working with many of you to help us recognize Greg in the myriad ways that he deserves, to keep his light shining on us all.” 


~ Geri, Brian & Chinara Tate

Photo of Greg Tate by Žiga Koritnik
HEARTBREAK: Friend/father/mentor/brother/galvanizer/agitator/community-builder and BRC Co-Founder Greg Tate has passed away
Greg Tate at BRC Orchestra Blaxploitation Songbook, Schomburg Center NYC, 2010

The Black Rock Coalition is shocked, saddened and absolutely devastated with the news that our brother, friend and co-founder Greg Tate made his transition on December 7, 2021. Thirty-six years to the day after the first official BRC event, Drop The Bomb.


Greg, who along with Vernon Reid, Konda Mason and other musicians, journalists, and other visionary, well informed sBlack rock n roll heads, started the Black Rock Coalition in 1985 as a means to combat misinformation about the true of this rock n roll thing of ours, confront the subtle and overt racism that has, and continue to plague the music industry, and to champion those of color who carry the banner proudly and without apology.  


Greg wrote the original BRC manifesto and the words that changed the lives and perspectives of the many women and men of color who felt like outsiders within their own culture:  

‘Rock n roll is Black music and we are its heirs.’


Greg lived this manifesto in every aspect of his life, whether as a kid growing up in Dayton, as a student at Howard University and upon his arrival in New York in 1982 as a writer for The Village Voice.  Greg led the wave of Black writers who, without apology, honored the past yet went full speed ahead into the future, giving dap to Black artists across the cultural spectrum who were not getting love within mainstream circles.  


Greg thought globally but acted locally, as evidenced by his books Flyboy In The Buttermilk, Everything But The Burden, Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and The Black Experience.  He led the badass improvisation ensemble, Burnt Sugar: The Arkestra Chamber for over decades, which honored the legacy of the late and sadly missed Lawrence ‘Butch’ Morris, and showed some of the best and baddest players from all over the world.


The footprint he left on The Black Rock Coalition is immeasurable.


Everyone here at The Black Rock Coalition sends out its deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to his daughter Chinara, grandson Nile, sister Geri, brother Brian, sister-in-law Maureen, his niece, and all those who knew and loved him dearly.  


Peace be with you brother.


Soul embodied by Felice Rosser, Nao Hakamada, and Fin Hunt. Follow the music, musings, and movement at

IT’S HERE: Download RAVERS—The Black Rock Coalition Arts Magazine, Sustaining Black Self-Determination Issue (Fall Solstice)
Historic: BRC Community Virtual Meeting
We met by Zoom and chopped it up with the meeting and then the meeting after the meeting. You know how we do. If not, we’ll be sure to do it again soon…
AVAILABLE NOW: Download Rock ‘n’ Roll Reparations, v.4

The download codes are ready for our BRC 35th Anniversary Compilation—Rock ‘n Rock Reparations, v. 4. Thanks to all the artists who’ve shared music. Now that we’ve done the hard work of picking the songs that best represent what Black self-determination, Afrofuturism, and the BRC have to offer in this anniversary year, we look forward to sharing it with you. Email with “V4 Code” in the subject and we’ll get it out to you. Hope y’all enjoy.