Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Mystery of the Phantom Amp

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by The Angle, Apr 14, 2019.

  1. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Meister

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    I was watching some video of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's amazing performance at Wilbraham Road RR station in Manchester, England, during the 1964 "Blues and Gospel" tour with Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Cousin Joe, Otis Spann, and the Reverend Gary Davis. That is, watching it for, I don't know, the 20th or 24th time. It's a great performance.

    While the music was playing, I was websurfing through some photos of Sister Rosetta on the station platform when something odd popped out.

    In this photo, we see Sister Rosetta and her famous white SG with an AC 30 behind her and Muddy Waters's telecaster on the chair.

    [​IMG]

    But in this nearly identical photo -- Muddy's tele is still there on the chair -- the amp behind Sister Rosetta appears to be some kind of Supro (?).

    [​IMG]

    Finally, in the film of the actual concert shot and aired by Granada TV, neither amp (and certainly not Muddy's tele) is on stage in that spot during her or Waters's performance. Something that might have been a small, Gibson-style amp or stage monitor can be seen under a bench to the right of the chair, but the video quality isn't sharp enough to be sure what it is. And it appears to be there only for Sister Rosetta; by the time Muddy comes out, it seems to be gone (but his set was after dark, so maybe it's just a trick of the changing light).

    I suspect the photos must have been taken during a sound check, and Sister Rosetta wasn't happy with either of those amps. There's nothing more to this post than that -- it just struck me as an intriguing bit of trivia from a historically significant tour, and I decided to share. But if anyone knows more about it, I'd love to hear.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
  2. Torren61

    Torren61 Tele-Holic

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    How'd you like to own that guitar?
     
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  3. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Tele-Meister

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    I wouldn't. Owning a Gibson (fragile) owned by a pioneer like her (important) leads to more responsibilities than I want while jumping off of a bass drum during a solo...... or falling off, depending on how much dust is on said drum......
     
  4. Torren61

    Torren61 Tele-Holic

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    I would.
     
  5. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    She is the main reason that I would ever consider an SG. Dang, she rocked.
     
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  6. Bergy

    Bergy Tele-Meister

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    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
  7. guitartwonk

    guitartwonk Tele-Meister

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    And this is the key to it. The one with the Supro has been altered. I reckon the Vox is the true photo because you've got two shots of the same scene from different angles.

    If you look at the bottom of the Supro you can see the same dark line as at the bottom of the Vox so that when the photo was altered, the dark bottom of the Vox amp has turned into the shadow under that precariously balanced supro.

    If you want further proof, consider that the two shots that look the same but for the amp are in fact IDENTICAL but for the amp. Every last detail down to the angle Sister Rosetta's guitar cable falls at and the shape of the shadow in her sleeve...

    Now, to shift that Vox out the way to place the Supro would've involved getting Sister Rosetta to move, which would throw off all the details in the photographer's view such that the second shot could never be the same. The same would apply if it was Supro first then Vox second.

    For some reason, someone has seen a benefit in claiming that Sister Rosetta used a Supro that day.

    As for the disappearing during the video, I can't say for sure. It's been a while since I watched it. Too long really, I should go and do that now, it's the kind of performance that sends shivers down your spine.



    Sent from my Phone using Tapatalk
     
  8. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    I agree that the picture w/ the Supro seems phonied up. Look at how natural and clear the lines of her cable are in the Vox pic (Bergy's post), vs. how blurred and drawn-in that same cable looks in the Supro pic (in second pic in The Angle's post). For some reason, someone seems to have photo-shopped in a Supro where a Vox originally was. AND for some reason, Sister Rosetta used neither the Vox nor the Supro, but, as The Angle noted, in the video anyway, that lil' thing under bench. A sound-check Vox, a phonied-in Supro, and a mystery tiny amp for the video....? Seems to be the case.

    Here's the video. Or at least a video of it. Gotta love the Sister!

     
  9. The Angle

    The Angle Tele-Meister

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    Wow, the mystery actually gets murkier rather than clearer. I agree, it appears the Supro was added to the photo after the fact with a razor blade and touch-up ink to replace the Vox. But why?
     
  10. 68tele

    68tele Tele-Afflicted

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    Mebbe for a Supro ad way back when
     
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  11. uriah1

    uriah1 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    at 1:02 looks like a champ under the park bench.
     
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  12. bladeswitcher

    bladeswitcher TDPRI Member

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    The Vox is the one that looks wrong to me. The sharpness and contrast of the Vox amp seems greater than the rest of the photo. The Supro exhibits the right amount of out of focusness to be consistent with the depth of field you'd expect. If you look at the sharpness of that amp and compare it to the bag of feed next to it, it's about the same. The Vox is in sharper focus than anything else around it.

    Logically, it makes more sense that somebody would dummy up the Vox version, since for years that was the more brand more likely to have been advertised. Wasn't the Supro brand reintroduced relatively recently. Also, if you were going to put a Supro in there for advertising purposes, wouldn't you make the image sharp?
     
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  13. bladeswitcher

    bladeswitcher TDPRI Member

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    Go watch the video, at about the 7:20 mark you can just barely make out the top of the amp sitting behind the bags of feed. It's the Supro.

     
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  14. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

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    Whoo-whee, quite the (pretty meaningless) puzzler! I see what you mean, bladeswitcher. That does look like the Supro emblem at 7:19. And Rosetta is clearly not hooked up to what's a little handbaggy-looking thing under the bench after all. Plus, her SG sounds more like it's going through a ratty Supro than a spikey Vox (said in fondness for both types of amp).

    Even so, the Supro still picture looks more faked/added in than the Vox one does. The Vox may be artificially sharp in the pic, but that cord in the Supro pic--still looks drawn in, to me. So I am officially in the "Ya got me" category.

    Either way, Rosetta was the queen!
     
  15. bladeswitcher

    bladeswitcher TDPRI Member

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    In a previous life I was a photographer. I got started as a high school kid in the '70s and shot a boatload of black and white film throughout the '80s. As a photo student, I examined generations of black and white photos. As a newspaper and magazine photographer, I processed and printed thousands of rolls of film. The grain structure and tones of black and film are burned into my brain.

    When I saw the Vox photo my first thought was that it didn't look right. That's my take anyway. I don't know jack about amps, but I'm pretty familiar with film.
     
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  16. Daddydex

    Daddydex Friend of Leo's

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    It appears the chair has been moved, too. So it is like any cluster**** gig where there is more than one act. Mayhem!!

    Dan
     
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  17. TC6969

    TC6969 Friend of Leo's

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    I was on a show one time when an amp crapped out and two crew guys ran out with another amp and had us back in the game in about 10 seconds.

    Of course that's WAY too simple an explanation!
     
  18. rocking rooster

    rocking rooster Tele-Meister

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    Problem solved. I've searched the net and found the original photo

    sister copy.jpg
     
  19. Big_Bend

    Big_Bend Poster Extraordinaire

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    This is my favorite Sister Rosetta Tharpe song

     
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  20. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Remember:

    Muddy played three or four songs at the same railway station shot by Granada TV.

    Fact, I’m almost positive I remember seeing at least a picture if not a video with both of them - Muddy might have just been watching her.

    Anyhow, the amp that isn’t a Vox - but I don’t think it’s a Supro either - is clearly visible at 2:44 . But for all those folks that do think it’s a Supro, post a link to what Supro model they think it is.

    I think it’s some Brit amp of the day (1963/64)

    (BTW, those Brit kids needed a clapping clinic before the performances)

     
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