Many post here that his talent is overrated. Talent and style is a matter of taste and opinion. But the fact that he is the single most important figure in rock history is not opinion. Pick the group from the 1960s or 1970s you think is the most influential and read about them. You will find they were inspired by Elvis. Is Elvis my favorite, no. I like Joe Cocker but look it up Joe Cocker says Elvis is the greatest bluesy Rock singer. The Beatles well everyone knows John said “before Elvis there was nothing”. Paul always played it cool and did not hero worship as much but go youtube the video where Paul plays the “Elvis Bass” and you will see what he thinks. Led zeppelin- google Robert Plant talks about Elvis. Google the stones on Elvis. Google Springsteen and Elvis. Bob Dylan worshiped Elvis and kissed the spot on the floor where Elvis recorded at Sun studio. Jimmy Hendrix managed to watch an Elvis concert from a mountain overlooking a stadium when he was young (10 or 11). The next day in school he drew pictures of Elvis and wrote every song he heard at the concert. Then he went a bought a guitar. These pictures are at the Rock Hall of fame. Keep googling: CCR, Elton John, Paul Simmon, Tom Jones, Cher, Roger Daltrey, Bono........ If your favorite singer was not inspired by Elis he was inspired by someone that was.
Elvis’s style was developed because he was colorblind. He would sneak out of his mother’s church to sing in the choir of a black church. He did not segregate himself. If you read about him you will find he felt as comfortable in the black community as he did in the poor white. Rather than accusing him of stealing black music, the black community should embrace the truth: that they produced him. But then again go listen to his early music. It sounds as much country as blues. He was the first to admit he could not sing like Curdup or Fats Domino. He lamented “I try but I can’t do it”. His music was what he is a fusion of poor black and poor white culture. Read the story of how he came up with the recording or “That’s all Right Moma”. They tried for hours and he tried doing his version of every other white singer that came before him. But when they gave up he started messing around and just sang for fun as the guys were packing up. Then it happened. In the early days he only got it right when he stopped trying and just let it happen.
Any one that claims by not speaking up against racism Elvis was complicit does not know what he is talking about. Yes like Ray Charles he did play some all-white venues. But he was a simple man and felt he had no place trying to tell others how to live and when it came to business he rarely went against the colonel. Pick any one of your heroes in civil right and you will find many places where they could have done more. But YouTube what Elvis's black backup singers have to say. When he was told to leave them behind when he performed at the Houston Astrodome he refused to preform without them. And when he entered in a covetable they were in the car with him. He also refused to stay in hotels that refused them service.
He did not write any of his songs. But in the 1968 comeback special he was supposed to end with a Christmas song but he wanted to end with an important song. He loved Martin Luther King and would often recite the “I have a dream speech”. When he insisted on ending with a new and socially relevant song in 1968 they asked Walter Earl Brown to write a song that was reflective of a conversation that Elvis had with the produced about his feelings about MLK. In one version of the story I heard Brown went in a talked to Elvis and included Elvis’s thoughts and some words in the song. This is one of the few times Elvis went against the Colonel who was afraid of the controversy. He released in the Ghetto not long after that. Was that all he could have done, no. But these songs were both in support of civil rights. List me how many civil rights songs you favorite performer recorded. Heck Tiger Woods played in tournaments at country clubs that were segregated and did not allow women. And this was in the 1990s when everyone would have supported him. In the 1960s people like Bobby Kennedy and MLK were still getting shot for supporting civil rights.
to the writer of
"@Rjk Chuck D wasn't slandering Elvis he was simply pointing out the fact that white artist tend to get more credit than blacks i mean even today all i hear about is the beatles, led zeppelin, rolling stones, but what about the people who they were "
I have to add support to you comment on Adelle. It is sad she is so popular and Beyonce can sell a CD or get play time on the radio.
Oh what is that Adelle does not out sell Beyonce.
Hold on what is going on it up not down it left not right.
Dude check your decade before you start your rant
People that call Elvis a racist due to his "inaction" are just casting they personal guilt on to him. In the 50s south a white person (especially) could be harassed or even beaten for associating to closely with black people. The fact is as a kid he used to sneak out of his white church to go sing in the choir of a black church. He frequently attended the local amusement park on all black only nights. I think he just looked past race and did his thing. He was not a racist he felt more at home in the black church than he did in the white one. I wish he had used his success and brought Little Richard or Chuck Berry to join him on stage and show more appreciation for their contribution to his success. But once he opened the door they found their own success and did not need him anymore. Frankly, he was a simple country boy that did what his momma told him to do and transferred this simple obedience to the Colonel when he became his manager. He was different than everyone growing up because his momma loved him no matter how he acted so he developed his own style. The one time he did sneak off behind the Colonels back and do a charity show it was for a black children’s hospital. Every black musician or the 50s that has spoken out admits that Elvis treated them with respect and that they owe much of their success to the fact that Elvis got white America to love their music.
When Elvis did self-funded demo’s to try to get Sam Phillips attention he sang like the white crooners of his time and was just trying to be commercial. Sam gave him a chance and put him with Scotty and Bill and they tried several songs. But Elvis was singing like Dean Martin, Hank William or a number of other white crooners because he thought that would sell. It was not until they gave up and Scotty and Bill were putting up their instruments that Elvis stopped trying, got out of his own way and started goofing off and having fun. He ripped out “that’s all right mamma” in a style that was his own. Sam, Scotty and Bill were shocked and went back and jumped in. They knew what Elvis did not know and probably never figured out. His success was that integrated background and his willingness to cut loose and just be himself. In an account of Elvis meeting Jim Morrison in the Arizona desert when Morrison was a 15 year old boy, you find Morrison thinking Elvis was idiot savant. Morrison could, see at that age, that Elvis had something everyone wanted and that would change the world but Morrison thought that Elvis himself could not see it or understand it.
To claim Elvis stole “Black” culture or music implies planning and a deliberate act. But when Elvis was deliberate he was trying to steal Dean Martin’s gig. He was not successful until he got out of his own way and turned loose the talent that was a product of a mix cultural upbringing. It would be better if black people accepted Elvis the way they took Bill Clinton in as the “first black president”. Elvis did not steal their culture; he was a product of it. White people should stop projecting they own guilt for past racism onto him ad stop trying to twist his story in to one of racism but in fact hold him up as an example of the product of an integrated upbringing.
To say he stole black culture is a racist statement in itself and one who says it should be ashamed of the hidden racism of that statement. “that’s all right” was 40% rhythm and blues (black), 40% county and 20% Dean Martin. In general Elvis’s career is a mix of country, R&B and crooners (like Dean Martin and Caruso). He had a voice that could do it all. So to say he stole black music is to give in to the racism of the time and say “normal music” is white and the “different” stuff is black. If there had been no racism black music would have been as acceptable as white and everyone would have thought R&B was as “normal” as country and crooners. Then when they heard Elvis’ early stuff they would have heard all these influences and not call it black music. But because Elvis ignored the race line that defined our country at that time he blended all the music genres of that time into one sound that lit the country on fire. Anyone who only hears black in his music is a racist. Those who did so back then fought it because they knew acceptance of black music and culture would lead to integration. Those who still can’t hear the blending of styles in his music need to seriously look at themselves and ask why!
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