How Prince Introduced Us to the “Minneapolis Sound”

From Polka to Punk-Funk, the Twin Cities Assimilated New Genres From Their Migrant Roots

The pop music genius Prince Rogers Nelson, better known to most of us as Prince, made his national television debut on American Bandstand in 1980. Performing “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” his first big hit in the United States, he gave the country its first taste of the Minneapolis Sound, an infectious blend of rock, R&B, funk, and New Wave that would become a significant force in American pop music during the 1980s, ’90s, and early 2000s. An astounded Dick Clark, struggling to interview the shy singer and guitarist …

How Southern Rock Reclaims Regional Identity While Facing Down Old Ghosts

By Reinventing Rebel Attitude, the Allmans and Their Brethren Forged a New Genre

The South spawned rock ’n’ roll. Some scholars pin its arrival to the first week of March, 1951, in Memphis, Tennessee. There, in the studio run by record producer, label …

Bob Dylan’s Nobel Speech Reminds Us That Songs Are for Listening, Not Reading

But the Folk Rocker, Like the Ancient Greeks, Thinks Music and Literature Can Co-Exist

“Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story.” Homer’s opening to the Odyssey is one of the most well-known lines of what we call literature—but the Greeks called song. This …

The Sweaty Serenity of a Heavy Metal Mosh Pit

A Photographer Captures Thrashing Headbangers in Their Moment of Bliss

On December 9, 1983, Jacob Ehrbahn rocked out like he’d never rocked out before.

He was 13, a suburban Dane who’d never been to a metal concert. The Scorpions—a year …

Why We Keep Rediscovering the Flamboyant Godmother of Rock

Sister Rosetta Tharpe Was Buried in an Unmarked Grave, But Now She’s a YouTube Sensation

More than 40 years after her burial in an unmarked Philadelphia grave, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, gospel’s first superstar and its most celebrated crossover figure, is enjoying a burst of Internet …