Written by Gordon Roberts, NCB Radio, UK
Bevis Griffin was at the very forefront along with an exclusive, select few of pioneering renowned black musicians who took the ‘white’ music of The British Invasion and its American counterparts and put an undeniably definitive Afro-centric cultural stamp on it, effectively and irreversibly reclaiming the music’s original heritage.
The cultural wind was carrying…no, not just carrying…but hurtling black music like a hurricane to new, exciting, previously undiscovered places at a time when black musicians were firmly ensconced in the musical genres of jazz, blues, and R&B. In Texas, Bevis rode and tamed that vortex, helping lead the way to those new undiscovered musical places and, in doing so, played an important role in demolishing the predictable black musical stereotypes.
In December 1970, Marc Bolan took the stage of the venerable UK television show Top of the Pops wearing glitter and make-up to perform, “Ride a White Swan”. This was to be a seminal moment in British music history, when what was to become known as ‘Glam Rock’ was born.
A few days later, 4,000 miles away in Austin, TX, a classically trained woodwind musician now turned rock drummer…a streetwise, precocious, and talented beyond his seventeen and a half years African-American, opened his weekly imported copy of the English music paper NME (New Musical Express) and read about Marc Bolan’s television appearance. It confirmed for Bevis Griffin, what he’d been sensing and thinking over the past few months. This was the new trend in music that would begin to define the decade of the early 70’s.
Bevis immediately began to turn the premise of the title of the Tyrannosaurus Rex album, “My people were fair and had sky in their hair but now they were content to wear stars on their brows”… on its head, to “My people were black and had sky in their hair but now they were confident to wear stars on their brows”.
In England, “Glam Rock” had sprung from the psychedelic and arts scenes and Blue Chip University graduates of the late sixties…improbably and with a unique Afro-American raw rock and roll energy and voice, “Glam Rock” in the states was given birth in Texas by a trendsetting, exciting young musical maverick named, Bevis Griffin.
To be Glam you had to be Big, Loud, and Brash and above all: A STAR! …and Bevis was undoubtedly all of that! …with a big plus…he was an incredibly talented, intelligent musician. With Bevis, there are no half measures….as his approach to music (and life) so vividly, viscerally and without question, illustrates.