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Op-Ed written by Austin Music CommissionerJoah Spearman 
Bevis, Black, and Boundless
Bevis Griffin, a dynamic vocalist, drummer, and songwriter, spawned from the classic Texas rock scene of the early 1970s, and continuing throughout the new millennium to the present, has always been years ahead of his time. With his adventurous musical exploits and a career spanning the eras and sounds of Heavy Metal, Glam-Rock, Punk, New Wave, Reggae, Blues, and Funk, Bevis stands alone as Texas’ original missing-link to the musical genres popularized by Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone and Parliament Funkadelic and later optimized by superstars Prince, Living Colour and Lenny Kravitz. In telling the story of Texas’ modern musical history one comes across many stories of achievement, camaraderie, creativity, disappointment and, of course, Austin. Bevis M. Griffin, irrefutably the first Black man ever to become a significant force in Texas’ rock music history, but is ironically and inexplicably seldom mentioned on page one, two or three of that history, although he is perhaps the perfect embodiment of Texas’ musical growth over the last few decades since Janis Joplin’s early days in the Lone Star State. From W.C. Clark to Gary Clark, Jr., the legendary Texas’ blues scene has long-since achieved a level of notoriety seen only in Chicago and Memphis over the last half century. With Willie Nelson and Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel, and the half dozen or so times they’ve played Austin City Limits together, you learn of musical kinship fostered by a love of live music. With the more diverse sounds stemming out of Texas from Austin indie favorites Spoon and Houston rapper Bun B to up-and-coming bands all over the state pining for SXSW gigs, you see extreme creativity put through the rigors of the billion-dollar music industry. Bevis Griffin’s story is one that combines all these elements and demonstrates what Texas music has always been about a desire to share one’s creativity with others no matter what the hurdles may be.  Born in Los Angeles in 1953, the year Elvis Presley was making his first recordings and Hank Williams’ ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ was a hit, Bevis was quickly introduced to an increasingly progressive American music landscape. His father owned a barber shop not far from The Five-Four Ballroom where Bobby Blue Bland, Jackie Wilson and Ike Turner played further pushing a young Bevis along a musical path.  By the time he was learning to beautifully play the clarinet and oboe in school, he’d already become so enamored with the sounds of Detroit (Motown), Memphis (Stax) and New York City (Atlantic) that a drum set seemed a more logical and promising instrument to see the world through a musical lens. It didn’t hurt that he was in the midst of the most prolific era in drumming history with Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Mitch Mitchell, Cream’s Ginger Baker, Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, James Brown’s Jabeaux Starks, Sly Stone and the Family Stone’s Greg Ericco and Funkadelic’s Tiki Fulwood.  In the aftermath of his parent’s separation, Bevis was inadvertently relocated to Wichita Falls, TX, where he graduated from high school at the tender age of 16. Bevis then took his drum-set and musical intrigue across the U.S. as a freelance blues drummer, until arriving in Austin during the winter of 1971. 
Friday, March 20 at 3:30PM 
Austin Convention Center 
Room 13AB
Music Conference 
Spotlight: 
Deep Roots 
of Rock
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