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10 Badass Rock And Rollers That Should Be On Your Radar Forever


1. Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Let's start at the beginning. The genesis. The very birth of rock 'n roll. Sister Rosetta Tharpe, born Rosetta Nubin in Arkansas, was one of gospel music's first crossover artists, and she was instrumental in building upon gospel and blues to create something entirely new. She's known as "the godmother of rock 'n roll" for a reason. When we think about the early days of rock 'n roll, we may think of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Elvis. But those dudes just wouldn't have had that sound without Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

For your playlist: "Didn't It Rain"

2. Phil Lynott

You can't talk about the history of metal without mentioning Ireland's Thin Lizzy, fronted by the inimitable Phil Lynott. Even if you're not a metal fan (Which.... why aren't you?), you might know the band best for "The Boys Are Back In Town." However, their take on the traditional Irish song "Whiskey In The Jar" is truly a thing of beauty.

For your playlist: "Whiskey In The Jar"

3. Death (Bobby, David, and Dannis Hackney)

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Formed in Detroit in 1971, Death consisted of brothers Bobby, David, and Dannis Hackney. You might have heard of the documentary, A Band Called Death, about the brothers and their pioneering, "protopunk" sound. Have a listen to "Politicians In My Eyes" and "Freakin Out" as it dawns on you that, yes, Death is your favorite band.

Check out: "Politicians In My Eyes"

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4. Pure Hell

The thing about Philly's Pure Hell is that they always looked like they were having a better time than you. Established in 1974, they only released one single (1!) single during their time. Luckily, there's the internet, where you can not only hear more of their music, but also can check out this short doc about the band, their music, and their style (note: lots of wigs).

For your playlist: "These Boots Are Made For Walking"

5. Poly Styrene

Born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said in England, Poly Styrene's music has encompassed a lot of different genres over the years. She's porbably best known for fronting punk band X-Ray Spex (which came about after she saw the Sex Pistols perform and thought, hell, anyone could do that.) Have a listen to her belt it out on "Oh Bondage! Up Yours!"

For your playlist: "Oh Bondage! Up Yours!"

6. Bad Brains

Mostly known as a punk band, Bad Brains originally formed in the '70s as a jazz fusion (!) band called Mind Power, and also incorporated other genres -- like reggae, metal, and funk -- into their work. Because why be good at one thing when you can be great at EVERY GOD DAMN THING? The magic of the internet lets us watch a whole set they did at CBGB in 1982. But you'd do well to start with "I Against I," which is perfect and magical and insane.

For your playlist: "I Against I"

7. Pat Smear

You likely know guitarist Pat Smear for his work with Foo Fighers and Nirvana, but he was also a founding member of Germs, a Los Angeles punk band from the late '70s chronicled, among others, in the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization. You can hear him playing a live set with Nirvana right here.

For your playlist: "What We Do Is Secret"

8. Militia Vox

Militia Vox's voice is gorgeous and powerful, and she can do amazing things with it. Just compare her cover of "We Don't Need Another Hero" to her work with her NYC-based band, all-girl Judas Priest tribute band, Judas Priestess. YES, JUDAS PRIESTESS. Here's their cover of "Electric Eye."

For your playlist: "You've Got Another Thing Coming"

9. Alexis Brown

Alexis Brown fronts the Tennessee's band Straight Line Stitch. She is like a cyclone of voice and rage and power and growls and LOOK. Check her out in the videos for "Black Veil" and "Conversion" and try not to feel too bad that you will never have the presence and the headbanging skills Alexis possesses.

For your playlist: "Black Veil"

10. Unlocking The Truth

Hailing from Brooklyn, Unlocking the Truth would routinely perform around NYC, with onlookers uploading videos of their performances online. Like this one. Because, you know. It's not every single day you see a group of (at the time) pre-teens adeptly shredding on the sidewalk. Here they are performing on Totally Biased, and here they are at Coachella in 2014, talking about how awesome they are and being correct.

Check out: "Monster"

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