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The Band Redbone was the First Successful Rock Group Formed by Native Americans.

While our European counterparts may argue otherwise, rock and roll is a uniquely American invention. Many of the genre’s most successful artists were born and raised in the United States. But have you heard of Redbone?

The first successful Native American rock band was Redbone, who performed the 1970s hit “Come and Get Your Love,” which was repopularized by “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

The History of Redbone

Pat and Lolly Vegas founded Redbone, an American funk rock band, in 1969. During their commercial peak, all band members were of Mexican American and Native American heritage, reflected in their songs, stage costumes, and album art.

The term redbone is a Cajun term for a mixed-race person, and the band used it to represent their mixed ancestry. The Vasquez-Vegas brothers had Yaqui, Shoshone, and Mexican ancestors. The band frequently alluded to Cajun and New Orleans culture in their lyrics and performance style. Because “their agent told them that the world was not yet ready to embrace a duo of Mexican musicians playing surfing music,” the brothers began performing and recording surf music as the Vegas Brothers.

Pat and Lolly performed on the Las Vegas Strip throughout the 1960s, first as the Vegas Brothers and then as the Crazy Cajun Cakewalk Band.

Pat and Lolly released an album called Pat & Lolly Vegas at the Haunted House in the mid-1960s before forming Redbone.

Six of the album’s twelve songs were written by the Vasquez-Vegas brothers, earning them early success. Pat and Lolly also appeared on the hit show Shindig! in the 1960s. Repeatedly, eventually becoming regular performers From 1961 to the mid-1960s, they also released several singles, including “Robot Walk” / “Don’t You Remember” (Apogee Records A-101), which helped them establish a name for themselves.

According to Pat Vegas, Jimi Hendrix, who was part Cherokee himself, inspired the musicians to form an all-Native American rock band. In 1969, they signed with Epic Records as “Redbone.” Pat Vegas, Lolly Vegas, Peter DePoe, and Robert Anthony Avila, a Yaqui-Mexican American better known as Tony Bellamy, were band members at the time. Redbone, their debut album, was released in 1970. (Source: Indian Country Today)

Come and Get Your Love

Maggie, their first single on Epic Records, became a regional hit in September 1971. Then came The Witch Queen of New Orleans, which peaked at #21 in the United States and #2 in the United Kingdom. This success paved the way for their 1974 mega-hit Come and Get Your Love. Come and Get Your Love was a catchy pop song with a solid Latin beat.

It also featured a string section and a decisive lead vocal performance by Lolly Vegas, who also wrote the song. Even today, Come and Get Your Love can fill a dance floor with many people doing the cha cha cha. The music is still very popular among Mexican-American baby boomers.

On April 13, 1974, the song peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It spent 18 weeks in the Top 40 and finished in 1974 as the fourth most popular song on the Hot 100. On April 22, 1974, the RIAA certified the single as gold, indicating that it had sold over a million copies in North America. The song is Redbone’s highest-charting single and one of the band’s two Top 40 hits.

Come and Get Your Love gained popularity again in 2014 when it was included on a mixtape created for the protagonist Peter Quill in the Marvel Studios film Guardians of the Galaxy. (Source: Indian Country Today)

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