I first came across the band, Redbone, when one of the Indigenous influencers I follow mentioned that this band was the most prominent Native American rock band in the 70’s, but was mostly censored here in the United States. At the same time, their song, “Come and Get My Love” is a fairly popular song and was brought back into the zeitgeist thanks to to Guardians of the Galaxy. For our Christmas Eve book exchange, my wife gifted me this biographical graphic novel.
First of all, let me just say that my mind was blown by just how connected Redbone was to the music of the 70’s. They were friends with Jimmy Hendrix. Their first drummer went on to play with the Beach Boys. And they mentored several bands that went on to have phenomenal fame. Redbone’s own rise to prominence is a classic American story. Having to overcome racist ideas about an “Indian” band, the group decided not to hide their identity but to lean into it. Especially as the early 70’s lead to the American Indian Movement and modern stand off between the Sioux nation and the federal government. Because of the prejudice against Native Americans, Red Bone’s fame came largely from Europe where their songs were at the top of the charts.
Redbone’s story is a stark reminder of just how much prejudice and racism is baked into American culture. It’s telling these stories, and not hiding them, that will help us account for the past and create a better future. I think this a great read for anyone who’s familiar with music from the 70s or who wants to learn about a band that had a lot to do with pop culture, but that most people don’t know of.