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Elvis Aaron Presley (8 January 1935 – 16 August 1977) was an American singer, musician, and actor. He was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. One of the most significant cultural icons, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King" and is the best-selling individual artist of all time.
Born: January 8th, 1935
Died: August 16th, 1977
Categories: 1970s deaths, American actors, People from Mississippi, Country singers, Songwriters, Guitarists, Gospel singers, Rock singers, Rock and roll, Pop music, Rockabilly, Country music, Blues, Soul music, Rhythm and blues
Quotes: 246 sourced quotes total (includes 1 misattributed, 1 disputed, 227 about)
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The first time that I appeared on stage, it scared me to death. I really didn't know what all the yelling was about. I didn't realize that my body was moving. It's a natural thing to me. So to the manager backstage I said, "What'd I do? What'd I do?" And he said, "Whatever it is, go back and do it again."
I think that soul has little to do with the colour of your skin or where were you born. It's the same with acting, if the actor believes in the story, so does the public, so I thank Elvis, who is one of my favourites singers in both the R&R and R&B fields, for doing the music I love the most.
If anything, it's a lot of people here right now. It's like my record collection is actually sitting in this room. I'm truly fortunate. You know, I've always loved rock & roll music. I always have. Soon as I opened my eyes and took my first breath, I was a fan. With my brother David, we listened to Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Mötley Crüe and Cheap Trick and Pyromania by Def Leppard. My oldest brother Alan, he had the Beatles and the Stones and the Kinks. My sister Hollie was like "Kool and the Gang." My sister Anna for that record collection that turned my world inside out. And my sister, Marci, who's pretty much the person who showed me Elvis Presley for the first time. Thank you so much.
Elvis did the Comeback Special in '68. He was falling in the ratings and it brought him right back onto the throne and, when you watch him sing - and "Baby, what do you want me to do" in particular, which is a cover of an R&B song by Jimmy Reed, Elvis makes it his own - you see this music is HIM, he's got every inflection, every feeling 100 per cent out there for all to see, it's so thrilling to watch, it's infectious. With singers and musicians, there's the surface of something and then real deep levels of being IT, and nobody gets close to Elvis because he gets that thing at the deepest level and it comes alive with him and everybody feels it, and it's like magic. He looked so great in his black leather, but even if he looked weird he'd still be King. Elvis is the total package, he was born for it."
''Love me tender, love me sweet, Never let me go.
"I think if I am alone on a desert island I would need something lo laugh about, apart from myself, and this I think is outrageously funny, and it's everything that when I wrote about Presley I wanted to try and capture. It shows you the warmth of the man, and the wit"
Along with the rest of "Deep Purple", I once had the chance to meet Elvis. For a young singer like me, he was an absolute inspiration. I soaked up what he did like blotting paper. It's the same as being in school — you learn by copying the maestro. His personality was also extremely endearing, his interviews were very self-effacing (and), he came over as gentle and was generous in his praise of others. He had a natural, technical ability, but there was something in the humanity of his voice, and his delivery. Those early records at the Sun Records label are still incredible and the reason is simple: he was the greatest singer that ever lived.
Presley brought an excitement to singing, in part because rock and roll was greeted as his invention, but for other reasons not so widely reflected on: Elvis Presley had the most beautiful singing voice of any human being on earth. Presley, for some fans, was primarily a balladeer. "Don't Leave Me Now" (1957), is a love song given distinctiveness by Presley's twangy enunciations, and sustained by the guitar and rhythm sections designed perfectly to complement the balladeer, filled out towards the song's end - as with so much of Presley- ,with what one conveniently calls the heavenly choir, which wafts him home but never overwhelms the country lilt Presley gives his music.
Arguably some of the most important tracks in the history of Rock and Roll, Elvis' SUN recordings demonstrate what a dynamic and talented vocalist he was; the young, raw, unadulterated Elvis whom musicologist Francis Davis once called "the greatest white blues singer”; I’m not one to argue with Mr. Davis.
So I said "Why don't we turn out all the lights so we don't see this vast empty looking studio the size of a football field and make it as intimate as we can?" We could barely make Elvis out through the glass from the control room into the studio when we cued him the backing-track. And then, Elvis started to sing. It was magic,. Next thing I know he's curled on the floor in almost a fetal position singing with a microphone next to his mouth. The hair on my arms were standing up. And that's the take that we wound up using on the soundtrack album. I did not use it in the TV show because I'm a total believer that if you're doing television I don't want anyone lip-synching. I want the real thing. And to be completely honest, as great as the sit-down shows are, had I been able to get cameras and tape him there, it would have been even greater.
In "Mystery Train" (1955), he rocks out with an astounding depth, Elvis' voice never sounding so rich, nor so pleading; best of all is his final spontaneous laugh & whoop of excitement, worth its weight in gold.
While he sings in a lower voice than ever -and what I liked about the early records was that beautifully vulnerable high voice-, he opened his Boston concert (1971) with "That's Alright Mama" (1954), singing it with enough verve to scare the unsuspecting. It was his very first record, and although it doesn't sound quite the same as when he did it 17 years ago at the Sun studios in Memphis, I was moved by the fact that he was doing it at all. It was a tour de force of theatrics, professionalism, and, happily, music. (In fact), he sings so well, the audience hesitates to press him for more, his purpose being to please himself by pleasing them, never to please them by pleasing himself.
Elvis Presley has been described variously as a baritone and a tenor. An extraordinary compass- the so-called register-, and a very wide range of vocal color have something to do with this divergence of opinion. The voice covers two octaves and a third, from the baritone low-G to the tenor high B, with an upward extension in falsetto to at least a D flat. Presley's best octave is in the middle, D-flat to D-flat, granting an extra full step up or down. Call him a high baritone. In "It's'now or never", (1960), he ends it in a full voice cadence (A, G, F), that has nothing to do with the vocal devices of R&B and Country. That A-note is hit right on the nose, and it is rendered less astonishing only by the number of tracks where he lands easy and accurate B-flats. Moreover, he has not been confined to one type of vocal production. In ballads and country songs he belts out full-voiced high G's and A's that an opera baritone might envy. He is a naturally assimilative stylist with a multiplicity of voices - in fact, Elvis' is an extraordinary voice, or many voices.
The greatest voice of all time.
The voice of Elvis Presley is perhaps the most contested acoustical phenomenon in modern culture. I can understand why some listeners may prefer the original versions (of R&B artists) to Presley’s covers, but it is more difficult to claim that these were immoral or unethical. In terms of vocal style and instrumental arrangement, Presley actually borrows relatively little, his appropriations (being) more straightforward, taking from the materials already protected by copyright: lyrics and melody. So, unless he can be criticized for not imitating an original R&B artist’s rendition, we have to reevaluate Elvis’ transgressions.
Lesson #1 is that rock music is in the fighting spirit, not in the amperage of the guitars; indeed, some of the toughest rocking has come from all, or mostly acoustic bands; Elvis presented a primer lesson from the famous Sun sessions, with a simple blues song through the most famous faux false start in rock history; he and the boys start out all slow and bluesy, before stopping the band cold and calling it out like the hippest beat poet: 'Hold it fellas. That don't... move me. Let's get real, real gone for a change'. Then they did, let it loose, turned every bit of intensity in their beings into a jumping arrangement, much faster and more rhythmically nuanced a performance than the opening. Much of the intensity is in the fast and furious, but precisely laid out detail work; there is a strong sense of spontaneity and discovery, but what ultimately makes this a hall-of-fame performance is the vocal performance; Elvis doing tricks, making sudden octave wide jumps. "If you see my milkcow..." There is a charismatic determination of spirit that Nietzsche would no doubt have recognized as the will to power; when the King got through with it, it was no longer anything to do with a high calcium drink, but about the singer's assertion of his place in the universe.
Elvis' "Love me tender" (1956), is a timeless classic that his fans return to, time and again, when choosing their favourite love song, but why is this early recording such a favourite? It could be the simplicity of the lyric, that wonderful vocal which quivers with an understated power and beauty, or the honest, pure sentiment of a song that has touched millions. Two minutes and 40 seconds have never been used more beautifully.
Baby, if I made you mad For something I might have said, Please, let's forget the past, The future looks bright ahead. Don't be cruel to a heart that's true. I don't want no other love, Baby it's just you I'm thinking of.
A well I bless my soul What's wrong with me? I'm itching like a man on a fuzzy tree. My friends say I'm actin' wild as a bug. I'm in love, I'm all shook up. Mm mm oh, oh, yeah, yeah!
I was living in France about five years ago, and that's when I discovered the Elvis Sun Sessions recordings. To me, most people know the later Elvis stuff, you know, "Blue Suede Shoes" and what he later recorded at RCA. But this stuff just has the energy and modesty and integrity of where he came from. It's his start and it was really the start of rock and roll, holding on to the roots of American music in every way, the blues, rockabilly. I think these recordings represent really the discovery of one of the greatest singers and performers of all time. It's the beginning".
Elvis is GOD!
I wanted to say to Elvis Presley and the country that this is a real decent, fine boy.
No I'm not the first king of controversy. I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley, To do black music so selfishly And used it to get myself wealthy.
A live concert to me is exciting because of all the electricity that is generated in the crowd and on stage. It's my favorite part of the business — live concerts.
In the collective memory of his fans, he reigns as the sleek musical genius who soaked up the multiple influences of America's vernacular music -gospel, country swing, rhythm 'n' blues—, and made them his own; Bob Dylan, one of pop's favorite poets, put it best: Elvis, he said, was "the incendiary atomic musical firebrand loner who conquered the western world.
"The laughing version of 'Are you lonesome tonight'"
He was a unique artist – an original in an area of imitators.
'Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't going away.'
The image is one thing and the human being is another...it's very hard to live up to an image.
Little hellions, kids feelin' rebellious, Embarrassed their parents still listen to Elvis.
Man, I was tame compared to what they do now. Are you kidding? I didn't do anything but just jiggle.
It isn't enough to say that Elvis is kind to his parents, sends money home, and is the same unspoiled kid he was before all the commotion began. That still isn't a free ticket to behave like a sex maniac in public.
I wasn't just a fan, I was his brother. He said I was good and I said he was good; we never argued about that. Elvis was a hard worker, dedicated, and God loved him. Last time I saw him was at Graceland, We sang 'Old Blind Barnabus' together, a gospel song. I love him and hope to see him in heaven. There'll never be another like that soul brother.
There are several unbelievable things about Elvis, but the most incredible is his staying power in a world where meteoric careers fade like shooting stars.
"Whether one is an Elvis fan or not there is no doubting that no church in Grimsby or any other town, possibly, has ever seen anything like it before, the most moving and joyful service I have ever officiated at. Some people used to think rock and roll was the devil's music but Elvis was a devout Christian."
It was the finest music of his life. If ever there was music that bleeds, this was it.
You have no idea how great he is, really you don't. You have no comprehension — it's absolutely impossible. I can't tell you why he's so great, but he is.
There is something magical about watching a man who has lost himself find his way back home... He sang with the kind of power people no longer expect from rock 'n' roll singers.
At Sun Studio in Memphis Elvis Presley called to life what would soon be known as rock and roll with a voice that bore strains of the Grand Ole Opry and Beale Street, of country and the blues. At that moment, he ensured — instinctively, unknowingly — that pop music would never again be as simple as black and white.
The young Elvis Presley, without any doubt.
Elvis' range was about two and a quarter octaves, as measured by musical notation, but his voice had an emotional range from tender whispers to sighs down to shouts, grunts, grumbles and sheer gruffness that could move the listener from calmness and surrender, to fear. His voice can not be measured in octaves, but in decibels; even that misses the problem of how to measure delicate whispers that are hardly audible at all.
In 1956, even the youngest of his fans knew that the 21-year-old Elvis Presley was unquestionably the whole package; and, obviously, his great three octave tenor voice, with a lower register close to bass, seemed to vibrate on the inner scale of every teenager in America; they loved the high tenor, but when he "got down" with that lower register, fans exploded; Elvis translated this into his moves on stage, so it was a 10.0 assault on the senses.
Elvis Presley`s talent as a musical artist was double barrelled and more; his voice, on the one hand, was extraordinary for its quality, range and power, as well as being a unique stage performer with instinctive natural abilities in both areas; he was the master of a wide and diverse range of vocal stylings and ventriloquist effects, from the clear tenor of his C&W heroes, to the vibrato of the Gospel singers he loved, his voice invariably possessing an aching sincerity and an indefinable quality of yearning virtually impossible to pigeonhole.
He had a musically textured rhythmic voice that had emotional intelligence; concentrate on his voice: sweet, remorseful, defiant, suggestive.
'To judge a man by his weakest link or deed is like judging the power of the ocean by one wave.'
Elvis are you out there somewhere Looking like a happy man? In the snow with Rosebud And King of the Mountain.
I'm never going to sing another song I don't believe in. I'm never going to make another picture I don't believe in.
The way she held your hand, The little things you planned. Her memory is with you yet, That's someone you'll never forget.
Elvis' early vocals, was a witches' brew of gospel swoops, falsetto shrieks, growls, howls, and scat...an anthem to human cockiness, to the healing, transcendent powers of the life-force...
Sweetheart we're alone And you are mine. Let's make this night a night to remember. Don't make our love a cold dying ember, For with the dawn, you'll be gone.
I taught him some lyrics in Spanish and he learned them. I wrote it for him the way it was sung (phonetically). He was very talented. It was very difficult Mexican music.
He had an incredible, attractive instrument that worked in many registers; he could falsetto like Little Richard, his equipment was outstanding, his ear uncanny, and his sense of timing second to none; (in short) he could sing...
Elvis was a (Gospel) singer par excellence. On "Milky White Way", (1960), he' got the strength of a bassman and the sweetness of a tenor. The heritage we have in Elvis' gospel music is a gift to the world.
But it was on the gospel numbers, such as the stunning "How great thou art", (1977) that Presley showed the awesome power of his voice. The fact that he has one of the greatest voices in popular music has been obscured by the mystique that has surrounded him.
Elvis' initial hopes for a music career involved singing in a gospel male quartet. His favourite part was bass baritone, and he himself had an almost 3-octave vocal range... Yet to posterity's surprise, such a superlative and magnetic natural talent always remained humble --perhaps too humble to keep performing forever.
In "Hawaiian Wedding song", (1960), Elvis takes particular advantage of his voice's strong lower middle and higher note registers, made particularly difficult because of the need to sing in cascading notes. Elvis meets the challenge on every occasion, his performance being absolutely meticulous, with not a hint of vocal strain.
During his rendition of "Hurt", (1976), he was in even better voice, singing in a register that gave more impact to his phrasing, and even hitting notes that could cause a mild hernia. And, after they drew a good crowd reaction, he offered them in a reprise that was tantamount to masochism.
What he actually did was take 'black' and 'white' music and transform them into this third thing; (in the final analysis), no one sang so many different kinds of music - rock, gospel, country, standards -, as well as Presley sang them, at such a high level, and for such a long time.
I am reminded of a comment made shortly after the death of Elvis Presley by a musician he had worked with. He pointed out that despite an impressive vocal range of two and a half octaves and something approaching perfect pitch, Elvis was perfectly willing to sing off-key when he thought the song required it. Those off-key notes were art.
The voice is so melodious, and - of course, by accident, this glorious voice and musical sensibility was combined with this beautiful, sexual man and this very unconscious - or unselfconscious stage movements. Presley's registration, the breadth of his tone, listening to some of his records, you'd think you were listening to an opera singer. But…it's an opera singer with a deep connection to the blues.
I suppose you'd had to call him a lyric baritone, although with exceptional high notes and unexpectedly rich low ones. But what is more important about Elvis Presley is not his vocal range, nor how high or low it extends, but where its center of gravity is. By that measure, Elvis was all at once a tenor, a baritone and a bass, the most unusual voice I've ever heard.
Elvis loved gospel music, he was raised on it, and he really did know what he was talking about; we would jam with him for an hour, and he had a feel for it and was "tickled" to have four "church sisters" backing him up; he was singing Gospel all the time, (in fact), almost anything he did had that flavour. You can’t get away from what your roots are.
Even as a young man, that's what Presley sounded, like a man. I wasn't of a culture nor a region that found Presley appealing, and I've never seen a Presley movie through but, a few years ago when in a tribute to him various modern singers covered some of his originals, followed, or enclosed by, his versions of the same songs, I was struck by how much fuller, deeper, and richer his were.
If any individual of our time can be said to have changed the world, Elvis Presley is the one. In his wake more than music is different. Nothing and no one looks or sounds the same. His music was the most liberating event of our era because it taught us new possibilities of feeling and perception, new modes of action and appearance, and because it reminded us not only of his greatness, but of our own potential.
On his live versions of songs like "How Great Thou Art" (1975), "Unchained Melody" (1976) and "Hurt" (1977), you will be able to hear how high he can go; but, it is essentially on "What Now My Love" (sang live at his "Aloha from Hawaii" global telecast, which reached 1 billion viewers when first aired in 1973), where he goes up three octaves at the end of the song, that you can really hear his true vocal power.
People will often say that opera singers sound too stiff and operatic when singing contemporary music. This is because the vowels in an operatic style tend to be more open, whereas in a rock style singers tend to thin out the vowel. There is nothing wrong, and everything right, in opening the vowel in the higher register so that the higher notes can be sustained. Elvis Presley was very open in his singing style even though he was 'the' rock and roller.
The point of Elvis Presley was that, after a dismal eight years on the screen, he returned to the stage where he always belonged and to the grinding treadmill of being on the road, which has killed so many of America's artists; he may not have pushed the boundaries of music farther but when he opened his mouth to release that baritone - the only white voice that could ever match the blues-, all you could feel was his longing and your own stirrings.
Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman's "Viva Las Vegas" (1963), was custom-written as the title song for Elvis Presley's 14th film, a rollicking tribute to the city of gambling given a spirited performance by Presley and his session musicians; strangely, it remained an underrated Presley song for a long time, finally beginning to gain some recognition from an unexpected quarter when the "Dead Kennedys" recorded it in 1980, their radical recontextualization of it helping the song to an independent life beyond its origins; on its own, it can now be appreciated as a tribute to Las Vegas that probably deserves to be the city's official anthem.
Had Presley never sung a note he might have still caused a stir, but sing he did. Watershed hits such as "All Shook Up" (1957) or, for instance, "Are You Lonesome Tonight", (1960), were eminately Presley's from the moment he put his stamp on them. His jagged, bubbly highs, and Southern baritone jump from those recordings like spirits from a cauldren. Elvis crooned romantically, then screeched relentlessly, always pouring his heart into the lyric and melody. After Elvis, the male vocalist could no longer just sing a song, especially in the new world of rock-n-roll. The "feel" of a performance far out-weighed the perfection of the take.
There comes a point when the voice starts to wash over you. You get inside of it, start to really hear what he's doing, and you realise his singing has this extraordinary, effortless quality to it. Sometimes it's like listening to a stream of honey. It's a very smooth ride, the voice of Elvis Presley. I don't think you focus on the words when he's singing. I think he's doing what bel canto singers do - you don't listen to the words, "just" to the beauty of his voice-. When I say "just", that makes it sound as if he's denying you something else but, actually, that's quite enough.
Then, in mid 1968 he taped a television special in a black leather suit, in front of a select live audience, opening with "Guitar Man" and closing with a mild social-conscience song, "If I Can Dream". But it wasn't until Greil Marcus brought out the recording of that performance for me, almost three years later, that I realized how significant it had been. Marcus has spent as much time listening as anyone who is liable to be objective, and he believes Elvis may have made the best music of his life that crucial comeback night. It's so easy to forget that Elvis was, or is, a great singer. Any account of his impact that omits that fundamental fact amounts to a dismissal.
I am indebted to Scott W. Johnson, my fellow at the Claremont Institute, for many things over the years, but not many rate higher than his "introducing" me to Elvis Presley. I came of age (i.e., reached the 9th grade), just in time for the "British Invasion" and, despite my childhood memories, soon came to think of him as the ultimate in passe; so, I was astonished when Scott told me, a year or two ago, that in his opinion Elvis Presley was the greatest male vocalist of the 20th Century; I had never thought of him in that light, to put it mildly, but that conversation caused me to realize that I had never actually 'listened'; starting then, I did - with the aid of Scott's encyclopedic music collection -, so if you have never gotten past a cartoon image of Elvis, do yourself a favor and 'listen'.
We are startled, on the amazing "Blue Moon,"(1954), by his trick of shifting, in a heartbeat, from saloon baritone to pants-too-tight wailing and by his near Hawaiian avoiding of consonants ("Ya-hoo A-know Ah can be fou'/ Sittin' home all alo'"), from "Don't Be Cruel" (1956), a song that comes close to redefining the art of the pop vocal; So, what's left? A terrific crooner who was closer, in intonation, vocal virtuosity and care for a song's mood, to Bing Crosby, than to any top singer of the rock era. Toward the end, he still had it as a Gospel ballader, the choir-soloist power of the hymn "He Touched Me" (1971) — his voice breaking poignantly at the end of the hymn, as if he had just seen Jesus — still thrills and haunts. So does his desire to please an audience of kids and grandmas, instead of comfortably occupying a niche, as almost every pop star has done since.
We can even hazard a little analysis as to what made his voice so appealing. "That curious baritone," one critic called it. Actually, that is inexact. The voice had mixed propensities, hovering between tenor and bass and everything in between. Even a convincing falsetto lay within his range. One thing he was not, ever, was "Steve-'n-Edie", the polished, professionally accomplished Vegas artistes who once pronounced on an afternoon interview show (Mr. Lawrence enunciating the sentiment for himself and his partner/wife, Ms. Gorme), "We don't really think of Elvis as a singer. But he was a star." It is only when, years later, one gets past the indignation of hearing such apparent ignorance, that the sense of the observation becomes clear. A singer is someone like Steve Lawrence rolling effortlessly (and meaninglessly) through a shlock-standard like "What Now, My Love?". More or less like doing the scales. A star is the persona in whom one invests one's vicarious longings, a being who is constantly hazarding — and intermittently succeeding at — the impossible stretches that every soul wishes to attempt but lacks the means or the will to. It's not a matter of virtuosity.
You can't be both Elvis Presley and Miles Davis."
Elvis is everywhere. Elvis is everything. Elvis is everybody. Elvis is still the King.
'There is a season for everything, patience will reward you and reveal all answers to your questions.'
I think Elvis took a huge chance in doing "In the Ghetto". It was a big risk.
I like Brando's acting … and James Dean … and Richard Widmark. Quite a few of 'em I like.
Presley was very classically orientated with his voice, and diction, and very sincere and wanting to get everything perfect.
Do you know how hard it is to fake your own death? Only one man has pulled it off — Elvis.
Q Magazine bravely attempted to name the best and worst singers ever. They did a good job, wisely going big with Elvis as the top choice.
Rock and roll is a music, and why should a music contribute to … juvenile delinquency? If people are going to be juvenile delinquents, they're going to be delinquents if they hear … Mother Goose rhymes.
Elvis was big for me, even from a very young age; That was the music that was around my house; I love that stuff, great songs and, as a singer, he was 'The Great' rock and roll singer.
I fell in love with this song, mostly because of Elvis' superior voice, not really thinking about the true meaning behind the lyrics, but rather how the title relates to the music genre I play as DJ house music.
I wanted to look at Elvis the non-saint, as well as the nature of songs from the ‘50’s, all that postwar optimism; he’s iconic, a wonderful singer with an amazing body of work, but he’s a bit like Billie Holiday, you’re not ‘allowed’ to be critical.
When in true form, he was fabulous, his voice and vocal pitch a lot more remarkable than it ever came off on record; in fact, Elvis was a much better singer than could ever be captured; you know, some singers' voices are just too big, and Elvis' was like that.
A great, obscure, bluesy ballad that builds in intensity to a powerful ending, the song remains a hidden treasure in Presley's vast catalog; in 1968, while preparing for his comeback television special, he re-cut it, and that's some indication that he recognized the song's quality and his own affinity for it.
Blues, country, pop, rock and roll, gospel, and beyond, this man could sing anything. From the rockabilly of the Sun Sessions, to the MOR of "Wooden Heart"(1960), to the later day "Burnin' Love" (1972), Elvis proved that he had the skills as a vocalist that few have, or will ever have.
In "T.R.O.U.B.L.E", (1975), his baritone was still as solid as ever, with its humorously cavernous bottom and its nasal vibrato on top. When he is putting out, reaching for the top notes and shaping phrases with the same easy inviduality that has always marked his best work, he is still the King.
From the darkest of backgrounds, Elvis' voice emerges with such realism that you could take singing lessons, his vocals so irresistible and smooth, and with such startling definition, that the clearest and most concise way I can describe the experience, is that I never felt as though I was listening to a recording.
A double voice that alternates between a high quaver, reminiscent of Johnnie Ray at his fiercest, and a rich basso that might be smooth if it were not for its spasmodic delivery. 'Heartbreak Hotel', yelps the high voice, is where he's going to get away from it all. Answers the basso: 'he'll be sorry'
Elvis' songs can be heard everywhere worldwide, which is perhaps why everyone is familiar with his voice. When you hear a deep tuneful voice with a Southern drawl in a rock 'n' roll song, it can't be anyone but Elvis (in spite of that voice actually being that of someone else "succesfully" mimicking him).
I was always mesmerized by strong, pure, beautiful voices, (and) Elvis' voice, the emotion in it, was unbelievable; I’d never heard anything like it, and I was listening to my parents’ records, like "Heartbreak Hotel" and all the ’50 s stuff, the real raw Elvis...and that's how I gravitated into Patsy Cline, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris.
The accompaniment is ornamented with bells, horns, and female choir, but it is Elvis' voice upon which the words depend for their dramatic effect. In a departure quite uncharacteristic of country music, there is a fierce, almost shocked indignation and passionate intensity in his voice, transforming a fairly ordinary song into a vehicle for savage social protest.
Elvis was a brilliant artist. As a musicologist — and I consider myself one — there was always a great deal of respect for Elvis, especially during his Sun sessions. As a black people, we all knew that. (In fact), Eminem is the new Elvis because, number one, he had the respect for black music that Elvis had.
As sound leaves the body, it needs to resonate against something specific. There are options – you can direct that flow of sound to the nose, the throat, the jaw or to the sinus cavities in the face-, but I think what Elvis did – as evidenced by his lip curl – was to aim the vibration stream right at his teeth.
I discovered the blues in a funny kind of a way, from the age of seven when I was listening to my father’s war-time collection of big band jazz. It had that thing about it – I didn’t really know what it was –, that set the pulse racing a bit; and then I heard echoes of it again, with early Elvis Presley.
This is the best way to hear Elvis the Superstar, with "Hound Dog," (1956),"All Shook Up,"(1957), "Are You Lonesome Tonight" (1960), and the ever zany "Suspicious Minds" (1969), still sounding fresh and immediate —impressive given how many times most the world has heard them —, and showing off the diversity of Elvis' singing, from the purity of his gospel falsetto to his rock and roll purr.
I don't really think Elvis' voice was significantly lower than those of any other baritones. The colour of the voice and the sense of warmth and richness of tone gave the sense that the voice was much deeper. Elvis, in fact, did not force his lower register, comfortable as he was with it, which in turn gave the impression that it was lower than those of other baritones.
He rarely over-sang when recording, delivering a vocal to suit the song. So, he can loudly accuse in "Hound Dog" (1956), rasp and rage for "Jailhouse Rock" (1957), bare his soul and beg on "Any Day Now" (1969) and sound quietly, sadly, worldly-wise on "Funny How Time Slips Away". (1970). This gift may explain why his music endures so powerfully and why his performances remain so easy to hear.
Sam Phillips used what we call 'slapback' or 'tape delay', which lent an otherworldly patina to Presley's voice. And I don't know if Sam was really conscious of it at the time, but if you listen to old pop and country records back then, the voice was always so much farther out from the music; Sam kept Elvis' voice close to the music, so, in essence, Elvis' voice became another instrument.
Oh, they can kiss my ass,” she says of critics who might accuse her of borrowing other cultures’ fixtures. It's a topic she seems interested to discuss. “I’m not appropriating anything. I’m inspired and I’m referencing other cultures. That is my right as an artist. They said Elvis Presley stole African-American culture. That’s our job as artists, to turn the world upside down and make everyone feel bewildered and have to rethink everything.”
I was about 10 years old, the first time I heard Elvis Presley's voice, pouring from my father's car radio, in East St. Louis, Illinois; I can't recall the song, whether it was a ballad or a rocker (but), what I remember is how his voice, that smoldering rumble of a voice, made my skin tingle; I don't know why, but I just loved his voice, his sound just did something to me.
Elvis was one of the prime architects of rock and roll music. As such, he influenced several generations both musically and socially. The urgency in Presley's voice is just one part of the equation, and the ease with which he swings tells the rest of the story. Equal parts balladeer and rockabilly king, Elvis played both sides of the fence. He was both tender-love-man and hard-hitting rebel. As this collection proves, his genius was in the way he made it work.
Elvis' lowest effective note was a low-G, as heard on "He'll Have To Go" (1976); on "King Creole" (1958), he growls some low-F's; going up, his highest full-voiced notes were the high-B's in "Surrender" (1961) and "Merry Christmas Baby" (1971), the high-G at the end of "My Way" (1976 live version), and the high-A of "An American Trilogy" (1972); using falsetto, Elvis could reach at least a high-E, e.g, as in "Unchained Melody" (1977), so, it was very nearly a three-octave range, although more practically two-and-a-half.
Each singer (of the so-called folk variety), is recognized as much from its characteristic sound, as from what they actually sing or play, and they manipulate tone colour with a virtuousity that owes nothing to either the classical, or the Tin Pan Alley tradition; one thinks, for example, of the voice of Elvis Presley, an expressive vehicle, shifting from high to low tones, groaning, sluring, and producing breathless changes of rhythm; to many listeners, the voice may have seemed crude, but its folk inmediately resided in its crudeness.
Even in his laziest moments, Presley was a master of intonation and phrasing, delivering his rich baritone with a disarming naturalness. And when he caught a spark from his great T.C.B. Band, Presley could still out-sing anyone in American pop. You can hear it here on inspired versions of Muddy Waters' "Got My Mojo Working" (1971), Wayne Carson's "Always on My Mind"(1972), Chuck Berry's "Promised Land" (1975), McCartney's "Lady Madonna" (1970), Percy Mayfield's "Stranger in My Own Hometown"(1969), Dennis Linde's "Burning Love" (1972) and Joe South's '''"Walk a Mile in My Shoes" (1970).
Listening to these songs today, their most remarkable feature is Presley's voice itself. He takes the Platters' Tony Williams's techniques, and any other predecessor's, to new, uncharted pinnacles. For a singer who was only just encountering widespread popularity, his singing resonates with amazing fortitude and confidence, especially on "Heartbreak Hotel," (1956), where Presley alternately shouts words with full lungs, then gulps the following back, as if under water but without missing a beat. In "Loving you" (1957), Presley's baritone on this, the ultimate slow dance number, is almost too powerful, virtually rumbling the floor...
Elvis Presley was an explorer of vast new landscapes of dream and illusion. He was a man who refused to be told that the best of his dreams would not come true, who refused to be defined by anyone else's perceptions. This is the goal of democracy, the journey on which every American hero sets out. That Elvis made so much of the journey on his own is reason enough to remember him with the honor and love we reserve for the bravest among us. Such men made the only maps we can trust.
It was just before Christmas 1962 and as I was driving from El Paso to the East Coast, I began forming the idea that would become this song; not very long afterwards my long-time friend Bob Johnston invited me to Nashville, and we finished this one together; Bob did a demo on it and when Elvis came to town, he picked it up and held it for almost a year in what was then called his portfolio; so, anyway, he recorded it and it was by far the biggest thing that had ever happened to me in my life.
But it is Presley's singing, halfway between a western and a rock 'n' roll style, that has sent teen-agers into a trance; they like his wailing in a popular song like "Blue Moon" or such western tunes as "I'll Never Let You Go", but they go crazy over the earthy, lusty mood of such rock 'n' roll numbers as "Money Honey"; and the reason is simple enough: Presley sings with a beat; and you can be certain that there'll always be music with a beat and that, whether you like it or not, there will always be an Elvis Presley.
Without preamble, the three-piece band cuts loose. In the spotlight, the lanky singer flails furious rhythms on his guitar, every now and then breaking a string; in a pivoting stance, his hips swing sensuously from side to side and his entire body takes on a frantic quiver, as if he had swallowed a jackhammer; his loud baritone goes raw and whining in the high notes, but down low it is rich and round. As he throws himself into one of his specialties— "Blue Suede Shoes" or "Long Tall Sally", his throat seems full of desperate aspirates or hiccuping glottis strokes, but his movements suggest, in a word, sex.
But the last side, recorded during rehearsals for his 1968 television special, is another treat, as fine and tough and overflowing with heart and soul as any of his 50's recordings. Playing an electric guitar, rather than his customary acoustic model, he traded fluid rhythm and lead parts with Scotty Moore, their interplay almost telepathic. And with his original drummer, D. J. Fontana, stoking the fires, this music moved, from the ferocious version of Rufus Thomas's Sun Records label blues "Tiger Man" to Jimmy Reed blues shuffles, to smoldering New Orleans triplet-style blues-ballads like "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" and "One Night". This is rock and roll as good as it gets.
He closes with a song called "If I Can Dream," a late contribution from vocal arranger Walter Earl Brown -- a plea for peace and understanding that in the murderous year of 1968 had a timely urgency --; dressed all in white, planted before his name in lights forty feet high, he folds his body into the song as if in pain, a pain he means to kill with hope; it is as raw and real as any performance I've ever seen, the beginning of the last phase of Presley's career and, if much of what followed look like decline, it was also an apotheosis; he had only nine years to live.
Elvis Presley's incendiary vocal performance of "Baby, let's play house" (1955), hails from rockabilly's formative era, when the rules hadn't yet been cast in stone, and Elvis was still experimenting in overdrive, searching for the compelling sound that would catapult him to icon status in little over a year. Presley's slapback, echo laden hiccuping - briefly rendered "a cappella" before the snarling low end guitar of Scotty Moore enters -, segues into an irresistibly lascivious declaration of lust, and a not-so-subtle hint of violence. Both of Scotty Moore's immaculately conceived, and executed solos were monstrously influential to the rockabilly idiom, copied by countless Southern axe-wielding teens. And Bill Black slaps his thundering upright bass so percussively, that no drummer was necessary.
He never understood the artistic claims that were made for him, probably thought very little of the nature of his appeal, or his music; yet, as author Greil Marcus points out in "Mystery Train", it is possible to see (all that) as a positive factor; Presley viewed "rock and roll" as for the body, not the mind, so he recorded and performed accordingly; and, if much of his rock music sounds superficial, it was thanks to his undoubted vocal talent and extraordinary charisma that, at least, it was all gloriously superficial and celebratory; he knew better than to take it seriously and, in doing so, he become the consummate rock figure, one that defined its spirit by delighting in its very limitations.
Arguably the finest recording found in all the Sun sessions, "Trying To Get To You" (1955), is a song that Presley made his own due to his hugely committed vocal, and the simple carefree abandon with which he performs it; at first, it feels like a classic country song with simple, elegant lyrics; but it is at the bridge - where Elvis really lets fly -, that the song is transformed from a lovely country lament, into deep blues; although the 1955 version is magnificent, Elvis manages to better it on his "1968 Comeback Special", in which he sings the song with so much intensity, it prompted critic Greil Marcus to exclaim "this is probably the finest rock and roll ever recorded.
That the prime exponent of this new style of music should be a singer who possessed no prior professional experience was an anomaly; (in fact), not only were most of the mannerisms that would define his vocal style present at the creation — from the sudden swoops in register to the habit, derived from gospel singing, of starting his lines with a throat-clearing "well" that gave whatever followed the feeling of a retort, but what was even more impressive was the extent to which his first professional recording was marked by the trait that has characterized every great popular singer: the absolute assertion of his personality over the song; from this, it might be concluded that Presley was simply a "natural.", but the truth, as ever, was more complex than that.
Heartbreak, jealousy, loneliness-, Elvis Presley gave luxuriant voice to these less than cheerful emotions, but did you ever think of him as a balladeer of the unbearable bleakness of being, of the horror of existing without purpose in a godless universe? In the improbably vivacious London-born production of "Woyzeck", vintage Elvis recordings provide much of the background music for Daniel Kramer’s adaptation of Georg Büchner’s great, prophetic drama of existential emptiness from the 1830’s. Dolly Parton and, more predictably, Beethoven, make aural guest appearances but it’s the voice of the Pelvis that sets the rhythm of life. And if the "wedding" of Presley and Büchner is more shotgun marriage than natural love match, at least you leave the theater feeling less suicidal than you normally do, after two hours with one of the grimmest heroes in Western literature.
Take My Baby LeftMe (1956) by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, the black Mississippi sharecropper whose That's All Right had literally been Elvis' first recording, in 1954. Crudup kept his blues in a bucket; Elvis put the lid on, and cooked; bar by bar, the song comes together; first comes D.J. Fontana's rapped-out drum riff, then a top-to-bottom run from Bill Black's stand-up bass, then the controlled gallop of Scotty Moore's lead guitar; then, last of all, Elvis singing in that imperious velvet growl of his, "Yes, my baby left me! Never said a word"; it is the most underestimated song in the canon; there is lightning in that bucket, and it could drive a train, any train. It literally took us into a new age. Endow a university! Elvis was a university. Whoever those mystics are who teach that the universe began with sound could use him as their full curriculum"
Elvis Presley caught the public's imagination through two things: his unique ability to synthesize all American music styles and his fantastic interpretive qualities as a vocalist; that he managed to keep the public's attention after the music began to suffer, is due to his remarkable charisma, an unparalleled force that was stronger than any ten other men in his peer group; (while) it's the charisma that allowed him to get away with covering substandard songs like "A Little Less Conversation," (1968), it's his musical ability alone that elevated it to a status it didn't deserve, creating something so endearing that the simplest of remix jobs could make it sound contemporary, a quarter-century after his death; he may always be a punchline to some people, but the continuing evolution of our fascination with the King has to do with his ability to reinvent himself every time he's heard; even, apparently, from beyond.
The headline news of "Platinum", which can be appreciated by fans, scholars, critics and religious fanatics alike, is the inclusion of a newly discovered 1954 demo of the unsigned Elvis singing a lilting wisp of a pop song called "I'll Never Stand in Your Way". His unsophisticated performance is mesmerizing; clearly indebted to the style of the "Ink Spots", Elvis' airy tenor floats delicately above his own guitar accompaniment, aching and somewhat pinched in its feeling; you sense the singer itching to cut loose, to really swing the lyric, open it up; it is in those moments, when the pentimento of the blues vocalist reveals itself, that the melding of styles that soon would change the course of popular music is on fleeting display; it's rare when a single song can be said to make a pricey box-set worthwhile, but this particular "Rosetta stone" of a rare cut, does precisely that. Big time.
I spoke to over 140 songwriters whose work Presley recorded, and most remarked about his uncanny ability to capture the essence and make it his own; like a musical geneticist, he drew from every strand of DNA in a songwriter's work, which ultimately helped shape his own distinctive personal interpretation; just listen to the wide stylistic swath of genre-hopping material he recorded during his career - from Junior Parker's amphetamine-paced rockabilly classic "Mystery Train" and the poppin-perfect panache of Otis Blackwell's "All shook up", to the down and dirty blues swagger of "Reconsider baby" and the operatic grandeur of "It's now or never"-; and then there were more controversial and socially conscious anthems ("If I can dream" and "In the ghetto"), and introspective 70's fare like "Separate ways" and "Always on my my mind"; right away, you can hear the breath of a master stylist who breathed new life into every song he cut"
But the core of the album, and perhaps the core of Elvis' music itself, are the soulful gospel-flavored ballads. Well, it's often seemed as if Elvis bore more than a passing resemblance to soul singer Salomon Burke. The way in which he uses his voice, his dramatic exploitation of vocal contrast, the alternate intensity and effortless nonchalance of his approach, all put one in mind of a singer who passed this way before, only going the other way. And here he uses these qualities to create a music which, while undeniable country, puts him in touch more directly with the soul singer than with traditional country music. It was his dramatic extravagance, in fact, which set him apart from the beginning, and it is to this perhaps, as much as anything else -- to the very theatrics which Elvis brought to hillbilly music --, that we can trace the emergence of rock & roll.
From the first quavering notes of the song, it was obvious that there was something different about him -- you could detect his influences, but he didn't sound like anyone else. There is a quality of unutterable plaintiveness as Elvis, in 1953, sings "My Happiness", a pop hit,in 1948, for Jon and Sandra Steele, and a sentimental ballad that couldn't have been further from anyone's imaginings of rock-and-roll. It is just a pure, yearning, almost desperately pleading solo voice reaching for effect. The guitar, Elvis said, "sounded like somebody beating on a bucket lid," with an added factor of nervousness that Elvis must surely have felt. But even that is not particularly detectable -- there is a strange sense of calm, an almost unsettling stillness in the midst of great drama. When he finished, the boy looked up expectantly at the man in the control booth. Mr. Phillips nodded and said politely that he was an "interesting" singer. "We might give you a call sometime."
In the early going at the Charlotte Coliseum, there were scattered notes here and there that made you wonder if finally he was gonna do it but, always, he would pull up short, rely on the grins, the charisma and the legend, until finally a little before 10:45, he came to the gospel classic, "How Great Thou Art"-. And that was it. As he came to the part where he belts out the title, he sounded like Mario Lanza with soul, cutting loose a series of high notes that would tingle the spine of even the diehard skeptic; but crecendo came on a song called "Hurt"; it's an old song that Elvis didn't record until a couple of years ago, and the key ingredient is its range, an awesome collection of notes that could leave a normal set of vocal chords in shreds; he finished in what seemed his most potent style, but wasn't satisfied, and mumbled to the band, "Let's do that last part again."; he did, and if there was anyone among the packed-house crowd who had thought Elvis was a fluke, they no doubt came away converted.
It is a weakness of the mind to preconceive a judgment of your thought, before the act is done. Despite the acid hemlock stirred by "The Las Vegas Sun" , Mr. Presley will survive and live to sing some more. Perhaps this cat should have studied grand opera, or the fiddle (but), I don't join that school of thought. You see, he's a natural and any dope knows what a natural is. His vocal is real and has a hep to the motion of sound, with a retort that is tremendous. Squares who like to detract their imagined misvalues can only size a note creeping upstairs after dark; this cat can throw them downstairs, or even out the window, with a depth of tone that can sink deeper than a well. He can wilt into a whisper faster than a gossipmonger can throw down a free drink and he really makes them cry. Presley's voice is that of American youth looking at the moon and wondering how long it will take to get there, something new coming over the horizon, all by himself, and he deserves his ever-growing audience. Yep, this boy's sails are set and he's got wind. Good luck and the best of everything. I hope they hold you over! After all, ten million cats can't be wrong.
As a vocalist, Elvis Presley possessed the rare ability to give the melodramatic a genuine authenticity; it's easy to take Elvis Presley for granted and yes, we all know that Elvis had a huge role in defining rock in the beginning, but few of us really know what that means; but then there's that voice, which Elvis uses to cut through to the most complex meaning of the song — the meaning that the song's writers might not even know exists — and lay it bare. On "From Elvis In Memphis", he takes the longing sentiment in "Any Day Now" (1969), his voice lending it a certain buoyancy that most artists would never even think belongs, and in doing so he embeds a deceptively simple pop song with depth and mystery, all through inflection; a craftsman at heart, his experimentation didn't manifest itself in innovation, but in refinement of his already incomparable technique; as a result, "From Elvis In Memphis" documents what happens when an artist who instinctively personalizes the songs he sings decides to get even more personal; the outcome is raw, stripped of all pretense, and dedicated to the idea of the song, his voice bringing with it a grave amount of weight; if you want an indication of why Elvis deserves a place in current pop culture, pick up "From Elvis In Memphis"; the music speaks for itself; authenticity never goes out of style.
I mean, they treat me like I’m Elvis there, they really do.
Tonight, I want to introduce the greatest entertainer of all time. Mr. Elvis Presley.
Elvis Presley changed my life. He was like nothing on Earth: nothing in my world anyway.
I'd like to wake up in the morning and hear on CNN that Elvis lives again
The only thing black people can do for me is shine my shoes and buy my music.
Elvis changed the country music scene quite a bit; he almost put country music out of business.
... I just know that, right now, … the biggest record selling business there is is rock and roll.
I’ve always loved Elvis, how he entertained, how he performed, so that’s where I try and take inspiration from
His was the one voice I wish to have had, of all those emanating from singers in the popular music field.
I feel like I'm not the only rapper here, Elvis was like a rapper, wore fancy clothes, he drove a Cadillac!!"
Elvis was a hero to most but he never meant shit to me. Yes, he's a straight-out racist. The sucker was simple and plain.
Nobody ever asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and all I wanted to be was Elvis Presley. But listening to Elvis was not allowed.
You feel like an impostor, when someone says something you know you're not, like you're a prophet, or a saviour. Elvis, yes, I could easily want to become him.
He’s really the only white man who can sing the blues. He's got a real feeling to it, which comes from the contact he had as a child with negroes
Elvis was singing "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky". The sound went straight up your spine. The way he sang, the singer sounded black, but something about the songs was really country".
Et Charles de Gaulle prenait le pouvoir, promettant les milles-et-une-nuits au pieds-noirs, et la Bastille en a tellement vu, qu'on ne l'y reprendra jamais, jamais plus, et la voix d'Elvis chante "Good rocking tonight"
So you were an artist. Big deal! Elvis was an artist. But that didn't stop him from volunteering for the military in time of service. And that's why he's The King, and you're a schmuck.
My biggest influence because of his charisma and sheer, pure talent was Elvis Presley. He still influences me today, actually, and with the help of the internet I can watch videos of him performing live anytime I want.
When I think about my family, I listen to André Rieu, a violinist and conductor who is very popular in Europe ( but), when I think about living like it’s my last day on earth, I listen to Elvis Presley
Presley’s long-time manager admitted it to me, over tea, that the real reason why my attempts to bring Elvis to London had failed, was his own uncertain immigration status. Parker was an illegal and didn’t want to risk leaving the US – so it was him, not Elvis,”
And as Charles de Gaulle made it into power, promising the colonial population in Algeria "the 1,001 nights", and even as the Bastille seemed like it was never, ever to be taken again yet, in spite of it all, the voice of Elvis kept singing "Good Rockin tonight"
I put Elvis Presley up there with Jolson and Sinatra, and I’ll go one step further: Elvis was the greatest pop entertainer of the 20th century. Like Al Jolson, he gave his all when performing: He sang from his heart, his body, the very essence of his total being, when sharing what he felt."
Critiques of the [Ed Sullivan] programs assumed that the Presley appeal was strictly telegenic—not vocal. His vocal style, in fact, was every bit as mobile as his hips. Since most of the journalists on the Elvis beat denied him any artistry, his two-and-a-third-octave range was never mentioned and the music itself was rarely analyzed
This is an event. I mean that sincerely. Just look at the age group he encompasses, my two kids are here. He's got longevity. They said what would a rock and roll singer be doing at thirty. Well, that's what we are going to see, what he does, at that age. He's an institution.
He had gone through the divorce with Priscilla, but he was definitely there to work. And this guy could do anything vocally. He could croon with Sinatra or scream with Little Richard. And what (I) admired the most about Presley -- then and now -- was his intelligence. especially when it came to human emotions.
Elvis was the thing. Whatever people say, he was it. I was not competing against Elvis, Rock happened to be the media I was born into. He was the one, that's all. Those people who picked paint brushes like Van Gogh, probably wanted to be Renoir, or whoever went before him. I wanted to be Elvis.
We got to meet Elvis on May 11, 1974. He'd been the one who'd done so much for so many, setting everyone alight and flighting right under the radar with all of this black music, doing numbers by country blues artists like Arthur Crudup and Sleepy John Estes. It was unbelievable. He was one of us.
Elvis had the biggest impact on me, he captured and embodied the whole thing. He had that rockabilly, rock and roll, pop and ballad thing. He was all wrapped up into one for me. I loved listening to “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Don’t Be Cruel,” and I just looked forward to each and every new song that came out.”
Teenagers dominated the mid-20th century, the term being invented only in the 1930s, and no one gave them more visibility than Elvis Presley, who began his own career at 18, embodying the teen desire for liberation from their parents’ culture and mirroring their more open sexuality, as he gave youth everywhere in the world music to call their own.
When at last I made my journey to the land of the blues, I never dreamt for one minute that I'd actually become friends with the guys who were my mentors, heroes and my cultural icons. (Witherspoon's) voice held a great mysticism for me, like when I first heard the voice of Elvis Presley—you knew it was coming from the source.
I don’t know of anybody that doesn’t like Elvis or heard anybody say, ‘Oh, I don’t like his singing.’ Everybody loved Elvis, and I just think that’s incredible. He was so different in every way — his voice, his style, the way he moved, the way he looked. He just had this charm and charisma and a lot of sex appeal.
That night at the "Eagle's Nest", I remember, he was playing a D-18 Martin acoustic guitar and he was dressed in the latest teen fashion, but the thing I really noticed though, was his guitar playing. Elvis was a fabulous rhythm player. He'd start into "That’s All Right" , with his own guitar, alone, and you didn't want to hear anything else.
He valued his fans and he treated them with respect. If anybody had a reason to be arrogant it would be him, but it’s a great lesson for other musicians and people in general and that is the better you get, the more humble you should be. His music resonated with everyone and that’s what made him so special, like Elvis Presley or Mozart"
I never understood his records at first, and then many years later, I thought, "God this guy is good". He had that wonderful sexuality about him, and energy, he was a star, you know, he was bigger than life. Anyways, because I'd met him a couple of times, singing with him was kind of easy, it felt like our spirits were kind of touching...
I think it’s a little harder to churn out interfaces with sociology. When I was a kid and Elvis broke through it was a sociological phenomenon that lasted through the Beatles and even a bit through Fleetwood. I grew up in Atherton, California, with my two older brothers, one of whom, Jeff turned me on to Elvis. Without Jeff, I probably wouldn’t be here today, so damn you, Jeff!!!.”
Yes, life has thaught me not to leave anything for tomorrow. I've made a list, some are personal, intimate, others are places I have to visit before I die, like going to Japan, which I did two weeks ago. And, it all actually started when I was at the intesive care unit, and all I kept thinking was that I wasn't going to make it to see Elvis' house LOL
For me, he was always "Saint Elvis" , so when I had the chance to sing in las Vegas at a luxury hotel and as back up to the Smothers' Brothers act, I immediately rushed to the Hilton, where he was appearing. Just his entrance was out of this world, indescribable and peerless, and, as singer he always pushed the envelop, an amazing performer all the way to the end".
Elvis Presley trascended his being called the King of Rock and Roll, even the music he made famous, in favour of his later becoming one of the XX Century's greatest cultural icons. But it is his versatile voice and his unusual delivery of numerous musical idioms, as well as the attraction he held, physically, and sexually, that led him to his being the greatest solo artist in the history of popular music.
I have plans to sing an Elvis song on stage soon. I was a huge fan of Elvis. In fact, I was in town until today and bought a compilation LP of the man. Soon you will hear me sing “Don’t” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight” – but not at the plate. My voice is too deep, with 20,000 cigarettes leading my tone of voice three to four notches down too far.
The sound quality was terrible, but the X-ray records felt like the real thing to (Soviet) rock-starved kids. When doing national service in Berlin, I came across a couple of bedraggled teenage Soviet soldiers who had just climbed over the fence. "Why did you want to take this risk?" I asked them, as they could so easily have been shot. ‘Because our officer won’t let us listen to Elvis Presley,’ one of them answered.
When you looked into my eyes, I stood there like I was hyp-notized. You sent a feeling to my spine, A feeling warm and smooth and fine. But all I could do were stand there paralyzed. When we kissed, ooh what a thrill, You took my hand and, ooh baby, what a chill. I felt like grabbin' you real tight, Squeeze and squeeze with all my might. But all I could do were stand there paralyzed.
After I'd seen through Christianity, I was still influenced by the elegance of the living world, what appeared to be intelligent design. And that was reinforced when I discovered that my great hero, Elvis Presley, had done a religious album, called Peace in the Valley. Elvis was kind of a minor God to me and my companions, so when I discovered that he was religious, it felt like a call from heaven. This is Elvis, personally calling me.
After his show, Sammy Davis Jr said he would arrange for my wife Joyce and I to see the best entertainer in Las Vegas which, considering Sammy´s fame, was quite a compliment (Once at the show), the audience was enthralled as the singer sang songs of every genre. And that evening I became a fan of Elvis Presley. Even today, particularly on Sundays when we do not get to church, Joyce and I listen to Elvis singing gospel songs.
I'm a very non-religious person. I think everybody has the right to believe in any religion they want. Whatever makes you happy is absolutely fantastic. That's a perfect question to say 'no comment' to, because I don't really wanna hear anybody else's opinion, and I don't think anybody should wanna hear my opinion, because it's very, very personal. And nobody knows anything anyway. So it's, like… If I had to choose a religion, it would be the Elvis Presley religion.
Intensity of communication, emotion, how the fusion of poetry is related to me as a listener. I’m disappointed by the bland and perfect vocal accomplishment, which I hear on so many recordings. Which is not to say that classical singers shouldn’t try to become vocally masterful. I take my cue more and more from good pop singers. The other day I was looking at an early concert of Elvis Presley. It was fascinating to watch, the body language, the vocal suppleness
Recently, someone asked the question of who had been the one individual who'd helped save the most money in the US healthcare industry in the last century. The answer – surprisingly – is Elvis Presley. On October 28, 1956, Elvis got a polio vaccination on national TV. That event was responsible for raising immunization levels in the US from 0.6% to over 80% in just 6 months. No other single individual has had that kind of impact on healthcare in the US.
I'm a big Elvis fan, so I went to see him when he was playing in Las Vegas and, after the show, I was invited up to his room to meet him. I was very excited so I blurted out: "Why did you make all those stupid movies?" I couldn't believe I've said that and felt so embarrassed but Elvis just said, "Last thing I remember I was driving a truck LOL" So now every time I say something stupid, I think of Elvis."
Vocally is where I see him as this great synthesiser of American traditions; his voice is something of a shape shifter, it can sound high and mournful and soulful, and he can also sound like a preacher, or be quite gruff, or be a sweet crooner; it’s not the tone, it’s the technique, like he had to adopt all these other techniques and put them together to make something extraordinary; the reason there are so many Elvis impersonators is because the voice is undoable – it’s a mystery.
I played piano at a very early age, it got me attention and I liked it, but music wasn’t my dream until I discovered Elvis Presley in 1957. I was sitting in the little barbershop in our village, waiting to have my hair cut, and I saw this picture of Elvis. He looked like an alien — really weird but amazing. And by coincidence, my mom brought home a copy of “Heartbreak Hotel” that week. How weird is that? And after I saw Elvis and heard his music, there was no going back.
I really got interested when I got into high school, about grade nine. I heard "Heartbreak Hotel" by Elvis Presley and I went and bought a guitar and so did a friend of mine. We both bought guitars and we practiced Elvis impersonations, way back when we were 15-years-old. And that was how I learned how to play the guitar. Elvis Presley has a great recording of my song "Early Morning Rain". He did such a good job on it too, and it was probably the most important recording that I have by another artist.
The biggest thing Elvis had was the command he had on stage, how he could control the crowd and the band. There’s a performance on the Ed Sullivan show where he does ‘Hound Dog and at the end he slows it down, and - to me - it looked like an improv moment, not like something they rehearsed. It was like Presley saw girls in the audience freaking out and said to himself: ‘Watch me slow it down - and then really go nuts.’ And he slows it down at the end and then starts his little dance, and he had them.
The reasons for honouring Elvis are not sentimental but political. I don't own a single Elvis album but he was a champion for those amongst our people who turned against our country's Soviet-backed Government in October 1956. And although the revolution was quashed, Presley saluted the uprising in January 1957 during his last appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show and performed "Peace in the Valley" , a gospel standard, as a tribute to our plight. At his request, Sullivan solicited the TV audience to donate towards our relief efforts, raising US$6 million ( the equivalent of US49 million in 2012 dollars), or about 26 million Swiss francs.
I remember that all my music listening had to be from the single family wireless receiver, which was built like a piece of furniture and took up an entire corner of the front room. It was from this Ekco set that I first heard Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel". It was a musical epiphany for me. His moody syncopated delivery was astonishing, daring, disrespectful. My father came in while I was listening and he asked, "Something wrong with the set?". He was going to check the valves at the back but I told him that it was Elvis Presley and that he was meant to sound like that LOL.
I have to say I had some very good scenes with him in "Loving you", but I found myself going to every shot, every scene in which he sang because I was competely taken by listening to him sing. I couldn´t believe the charisma. Incidentally, my uncle was the opera star Mario Lanza (married to my dad´s sister Betty) and I knew what it was like to encounter not just an actor or a singer, but somebody that you knew was going to be a legend. Mario was going to be the next Caruso and Elvis, I thought, ´he is in that class´. This man is going to live forever because that voice is not just for us, but for the people of God.
I’ve got so many vivid memories of being a kid in Liverpool. Like everyone I suppose, I have millions of memories of those days. I remember John and I going up to the airport on our bikes to watch the planes. It makes me smile to think that they named the airport after him. So then I think back to getting the bus with George, going to school. And then the memories go beyond that, to getting the bus to "The Cavern" or the "Grosvenor Ballroom". And then the memories go beyond that and beyond that, and I have to remember that I was one of the guys that all that was happening to. You have to pinch yourself and say ‘did that REALLY happen?’. Did I REALLY meet Elvis?”
At his big New Year's Eve party, I got to sit and talk with him and it was just great. He was the voice of my generation and I had a million questions to ask him, but all he wanted was to talk about that session of 'Kentucky Rain,'. "More thunder on the piano, Milsap,' he had said when we recorded it. I then asked him if he would like to get up and sing and added that we knew all his songs. 'No, I want to sit here with my friends and not have to worry about singing". He knew we did know how to play his songs, and all, but he didn't want to get up and sing and that was fine with me. It was his party.
In the mid fifties, Presley initiated a new phase in the popularizing of African American vocal techniques, combining them with influences fron country music to create a unique style full of hiccups, between the beat accents, and strking register shifts, from chest voice baritone to falsetto. First, when writing about the echo effect in his early SUN recordings, Richard Middleton, in his "Studying Popular Music", says the effect is largely used to intensify star presence, in fact, Presley becomes larger than life. Conversely, as Henry Pleasants noted in his book "The great american Popular singers¨¨, Presley was said to dominate a vocal style appropriate to different generic contexts, thereby developing a vocal multiplicity, a sound for country, a sound for gospel, a sound for ballads and a sound for R&B.
Elvis made a great many major recordings, and no matter what jaded undergraduates think, few rock and rollers of any era have moved with such salacious insouciance. But it's my best guess that rocking or romantic, young or old, thin or fat, innocent or decadent, inspired or automatic, Elvis touches the millions he touches most deeply with that ineffable chestnut, the grain of his voice; from the pure possibility of ´"Mystery Train" and "Love Me Tender", to the schlock passion of "In the Ghetto", no singer has ever duplicated his aura of unguarded self-acceptance. The very refusal of sophistication that renders him unlistenable to Sinatraphiles is what his faithful love most about him. (In fact), listeners with looser standards in cultural articulation have a clearer pipeline to the meanings that voice might hold.
"Bob King's", the nightclub, was packed and it was filled with anticipation. Even a seasoned musician like Sonny Burgess knew the vibe in the club was different that night. As Elvis Presley stepped onto the stage and the band started to play, his hips began to move and as sang "Good Rocking Tonight" the crowd was whirled into a frenzy. Burgess has witnessed hundreds of musicians and bands and played before millions of fans throughout the United States and Europe during his long career that has spanned more than 50 years, but the guitarist has never experienced the energy and emotion he felt the night he heard Elvis play that tune, back in 1955."Boy, he was different," Burgess told The Jonesboro Sun. "As soon as he walked into the building you could feel his energy. He had the looks, the songs and the charisma. Whatever a star has, he had it — more than anyone else."
It has something for everyone, except perhaps Irving Berlin, who attempted to get Elvis's recording of "White Christmas" banned from radio play, deeming it "vulgar and disrespectful". And it was, which is part of the reason why the drastically rearranged tune is so memorable, as the then-young singer masticated the contemporary classic, adding his idiosyncratic dynamics and trills ( the so-called educated yodels of one's vocal chords); equally irreverent and just as riveting is the King's gritty take on Leiber and Stoller's "Santa Claus Is Back in Town", one of the most sexually suggestive holiday tunes ever, and his rollicking "Here Comes Santa Claus". And who can forget the song that changed the hue of Yuletide, "Blue Christmas", or his wistful, definitive version of "I'll Be Home for Christmas", which cemented his reputation as pop's top dreamboat. Along with Phil Spector's "Christmas Gift for You", this is arguably the finest Rock & Roll Christmas album of all-time, a seasonal yet essential recording belonging under any Christmas tree".
I was ushering here in Los Angeles at the "Vogue Theater" , that's how I supported myself before I started acting, and about ten o'clock one night a Merceded Benz 600 Limo bigger than this room, with Elvis in it, pulled up. And I guess at one point in his life Elvis must have made a deal with God, that God would let him be Elvis if Elvis promised he never let anyone forget seeing him.(LOL) And I say this because when he got out of the Mercedes he was decked out in such a way that, you know, Priscilla Presley is a beautiful woman, right? And she was standing next to him, right? Well, I never saw her. LOL I didn't see anybody (LOL), and there were 24 people with him (LOL). As I was telling you earlier, I was in show business since I was a kid and I was never thrown by any celebrity, but when I saw him walking towards me, I went limp. I froze. And all I could say was "It's the King, It's the King, It's the King, the King's here".(LOL). And he said, "Thank you very much..."
Growing up during the pre-rock ‘n’ roll era, I fell on the ground when I heard “Heartbreak Hotel" in 1956. I thought, ‘Man this is happening. Years I met him while rehearsing for his ’68 Comeback Special. Our road manager was Jerry Williams, a promoter who knew Elvis so one June evening Jerry asked us to go down and see him. When we arrived between 9:30 and 10 o’clock that night, Elvis decided to take a break. He came out right on Sunset Boulevard, standing on the sidewalk leaning against the building. Jerry exclaimed, “You can’t stay out there!” And this is Elvis Presley, right? He looks like Elvis Presley. Elvis replied, “Look, nobody is gonna believe it’s really me”. It was the truth. We’re just rapping back and forth. People came by, and they’d do a double take—‘Nah it can’t be Elvis’—and they’d walk on. Nobody will ever be like him. I would have given anything to have seen him at the Overton Park Shell [renamed the Levitt Shell] in Memphis when he was about 20 years old. Elvis rocked harder than almost anybody. If he’s in heaven right now—and I’m sure he is—he’s probably smiling as he looks down and says, “Look how many people are trying to do what I did”.
Designer Peter Blake worked with The Beatles to stage the cover of the "Sgt. Pepper's" album, which was filled with life-size cardboard likenesses of famous figures including Mae West, Bob Dylan, Marlon Brando, Edgar Allen Poe, Fred Astaire, Sonny Liston, Dylan Thomas, Laurel and Hardy and Karl Marx. John Lennon even requested the inclusion of Hitler and Jesus in the artwork, but he was turned down. (As to ) Elvis, he did not appear on the album cover because it was felt by the Beatles he was too big an icon to be included.
Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun didn't think much of my songs. He produced some great records, no question about it, like Ray Charles, Ray Brown, just to name a few. But Sam Phillips, he recorded Elvis and Jerry Lee, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. Radical eyes that shook the very essence of humanity. Revolution in style and scope. Heavy shape and color. Radical to the bone. Songs that cut you to the bone. Renegades in all degrees, doing songs that would never decay, and still resound to this day. Oh, yeah, I'd rather have Sam Phillips' blessing any day.
In 1959 (during his time in the Army), he came under the weather and military doctors diagnosed tonsillitis and suggested that the vocalist, then the biggest performer in the universe, have his tonsils removed. Presley, already more trustworthy than most modern performers in his pleasant acceptance of military duty, agreed. The problem was that no doctor nearby wanted to risk operating on the star, fearing that malpractice would leave him without his golden voice and either a lawsuit or an an angry fan could ruin any medical career and/or life. They gave him penicillin instead and fortunately everything worked out.
The success of posthumous duets is often indirectly correlated to the respect with which the dearly departed is treated: the higher the pedestal, the less convincing the result. Wisely, the female country stars on “Christmas Duets” try to match Elvis Presley’s mood, whether it’s Carrie Underwood’s tenderness on “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (1957), or Wynonna Judd’s brawn on “Santa Claus Is Back in Town.” (1957), On a wild eight-minute “Merry Christmas Baby,” (1971), Gretchen Wilson saunters up to the song, full of attitude, before giving in; it sounds as if she’s flirting with Mr. Presley just across the bar.
In Elvis, you had the whole lot; it's all there in that elastic voice and body. As he changed shape, so did the world. His last performances showcase a voice even bigger than his gut, where you cry real tears as the music messiah sings his tired heart out, turning casino into temple. I think the Vegas period is underrated. I find it the most emotional. By that point Elvis was clearly not in control of his own life, and there is this incredible pathos. The big opera voice of the later years -- that's the one that really hurts me.
He treats the song as a private meditation, full of pain and the yearning to believe. Though the lyrics speak of hope, Elvis turns them into a cry, as if reaching for one last sliver of light in engulfing darkness. 'I am alone', he seems to be saying. But maybe, just maybe, we can find someone or something to cling to. In his case, it's God. But each of us, hearing him, reaches for our own salvation; if great art needs nakedness (then), those few minutes of Elvis alone at the piano amount to the most naked performance I've ever witnessed.
If Rock and Roll were a religion, Elvis was its most prolific disciple, responsible for more converts than anyone before or after him; if it had been country, Elvis was a Founding Father and his lyrics were the documents of freedom that helped to birth the nation; if it were a sickness, Elvis-itis would be the most potent and contagious virus known to man, infecting victims who just looked at his image, heard his voice or saw him perform in person or through a recording. But since Rock and Roll is music, we’ve all decided the world over to just call Elvis…the King.
"Ever since I was a kid, I was just glued to the record player. I would save allowances to buy Elvis records every week and still remember when I first heard "It's Now or Never". I thought that was the greatest rock 'n' roll record I ever heard. It just blew my mind. But it blew my mind even more when my mom showed me it was actually an Italian aria (O Sole Mio, which remains part of Malo's performance repertoire to this day). It was like, 'There you go. There is a connection with all of this music.' It all started from there."
When he turned it on, Elvis sang with the spiritual fervour of one who spoke in tongues, not so much communicating with the listener, as communing. Our continuing fascination with Elvis is a testament to both his charisma and his voice . The details are secondary. To paraphrase the literary critic and poet Al Alvarez, all that matters is that you hear the voice. When this happens, Elvis Presley doesn’t just hold a mirror up to nature, he creates an eternal moment, leaving the sound of his voice on the airwaves as distinctly as Leonardo Da Vinci forever fixed the Mona Lisa smile in time.
He got even more maturity in his voice as he got older; I was often amazed at his range, just as one singer listening to another. He could sing anything. I've never seen such a versality, and in fact I don't see it today. Usually a voice can sing one way, but he had that ability about him, and he helped me to learn the importance of communication with an audience. He had such great soul. He had the ability to make everyone in the audience think that he was singing directly to them. He just had a way with communication that was totally unique.
So what it boils down to was Elvis produced his own records. He came to the session, picked the songs, and if something in the arrangement was changed, he was the one to change it. Everything was worked out spontaneously. Nothing was really rehearsed. Many of the important decisions normally made previous to a recording session were made during the session. What it was was a look to the future. Today everybody makes records this way. Back then Elvis was the only one. He was the forerunner of everything that's record production these days. Consciously or unconsciously, everyone imitated him. People started doing what Elvis did.
Elvis had a center of gravity that was low, but also set back and deep; his sexiest moves – legs lolling back and forth, smooth like jelly, hips rolling and tossing everywhere – were performed as if there were a paperweight on a string tied around his waist, and hung from his lower back; with his own weight adjusted to the back, he could free one leg to twist, pop, and jerk while maintaining perfect balance; Elvis’ glory was in the shifting of his weight; when he gets going fast, the force of the shifts make his shoulders jerk so hard he looks like he is being electrocuted.
My uncle Perry came in, when I was six and started to create this character in the mirror. Because he was putting on this show, all my family were in the act so I was head of security, wearing this little official gold jacket, and suddenly there are all these screaming people, and my uncle - who has a moustache, a birthmark on his face and no hair - becomes Elvis and he's amazing. When the show was over, it felt like this weird emotional storm had taken over our house and sometimes when I try to figure out why I'm acting, I figure that had to be it.
He would probably be considered a baritone, but he could reach notes that most baritone singers could not. Much of his abilities emanated from a very intense desire to execute a song as he wanted to do it, which meant that he really sang higher than he would normally be able to. When the adrenalin is going, and the song is really pumping, you can get into that mode where you can actually do things, vocally, that you couldn’t normally do. So he had a tremendous range because of his desire to excel and be better, and that’s why he could do a lot of things that most people couldn’t.
Presley's voice was remarkable in the sense that, through it, he touched people in a way only great artists can do. (In fact), the people he touched are as diverse as humanity itself and, because of that his popularity has transcended race, class, national boundaries, and culture. There is no simple answer about why that is so, all I can say is he had that magic. When Elvis Presley was first popular, many people said that he did not have a good voice. Almost everyone, today, knows that he did, but more people today should see him not simply as a performer, but as an artist with a great soul.
Riding a streamlined rock-and-roll beat, the singer's vocal swoops, slurs, hiccups, moans and growls added up to a new pop singing vocabulary that was instantly memorized by scores of imitators. The antithesis of a relaxed conversational crooning, Presley's style was fraught with tension and animated by an attitude of self-conscious melodrama, woving the whole unwieldy spectrum of pop singing - country-blues, Italianate crooning, Gospel, soul shouting, and honky-tonk yodeling - into an integral personal style. His crowning touch was to accentuate the spontaneously exuberant humor that had always been an ingredient of country, and the blues, but singing it in a way that seemed to poke fun at his own accomplishment.
After months of neglect, the U.S.S. Potomac was in poor condition and had to be cleaned up for the ceremony. A few days before the event, in early February of 1964, Presley's people contacted the Long Beach Port authorities asking how much it would cost to have the boat cleaned up and painted for the dedication, the answer being that it would take at least three days and $18,000 to make it presentable. There wasn't that much time, so then it became a question of how much it would take to just paint the side that faced the dock and the international press waiting therein? It was $8,000 so they did it"
A singer, at work, is usually thinking only about making it through the song without flubbing it. Look what's involved:breathing plausibly, remembering the lyrics, nailing the high notes, staying with your band or chorus, maintaining a soulful facial expression and looking good. You might also be whacking a guitar. And -- because Presley did -- you also have to move, oscillate, arm-wrestle with the microphone, throttle it, skid across the stage on your knees, fling your head back and spread your arms; and then you want to salt it with what you possess of art...he flings his voice up beyond the grip of gravity, and then surrenders, like a skater in a leap.
With the way he was marketed, he didn't even need to be able to sing the way he could. But Elvis had talent, plain and simple. The guy had a thousandth-octave range, and a variety in his vocal styles and approach, he could make more vocal tones, with just his voice, than a guitar player with 50 pedals and gadgets. If you never even saw the guy, you could plain feel, not just hear, the emotion and passion in his voice, and you are immediately taken in, one hundred percent. On the merit of vocals alone, he had more talent in the barbecue stuck in his teeth than the singers who sell millions of records do today.
I believe he was already assured of his ability as a performer since he had been perfecting his style on the road for more than a year. If you look at that first appearance on Stage Show, you'll witness a young confident singer with his own unique style. He would enhance his popularity with five more appearances on Stage Show (February 4, 11, 18; March 17, 24) and would become a superstar by the end of that year. On that historic television debut of January 28, 1956, the spotlight was first shown on the two people who had made it happen - the promoter and the performer - disc jockey Bill Randle and the new singing sensation, Electric Elvis.
Entertainment-wise Elvis Presley played a big part for me because I'm out kicking my foot across the stage, but Elvis Presley did the same thing I do. He can get away with it. (It) kind of opened the door for me, along with B.B. King and all the guys who have come before me (Chuck Berry, Little Richard) who set a trail for me to come through the door. Now I'm one of the top five who are left to do this and I thank God for putting me in this position. I never thought that I would be an icon as the leading role of the blues cats, man, especially the black blues cats. I never thought I'd be here.
It is when Guralnick shows how young Elvis made his way through this cultural briar patch, that we get what we need. He got voluptuous phrasing and ecstatic self-confidence from gospel, wit and menace from the blues, homespun sincerity from country and, from what we can now call gay theatrics, he got glamour and self-parody. He played the outlaw and the good son. How he flirts with his audiences, first being casual, fervent, sneering, then inviting us to laugh at, or with him. ¨As you desire me¨, he is saying, ¨so shall I be¨. Was he a great performer? Yes and yes again. He galvanized rock-and-roll and made you feel the fun and the risk and all the contradictions. That's self-invention, and that's entertainment.
For me, it all started with Elvis. I must've been six, maybe seven years old when I saw him on the Ed Sullivan show, wasn't supposed to be watching, raised as I was in a strict Catholic family, and Elvis the Pelvis was sin. But like most Catholic parents, they watched to see just how sinful Elvis was. He was shot from the waist up, I could see that from my hiding place behind the couch. But Elvis' music and energy ignited my first desire to rock 'n roll. My father was a professional magician with a love of movies, and that’s where my childhood creative energies were directed. In fact, through my entire teen life my dream was to be a rock and roll rebel.
I might be the biggest Elvis fan you’ve ever met. I mean, I’ve seen it all. And I just loved him. I don’t know what it was. I mean, probably the same reason everybody loved Elvis. Cause he was electric. He was just electric, the greatest entertainer I’ve ever seen, and I think the reason why was because — and I heard him say it many times in interviews — , he always did what he felt. Genuinely did what he felt. It wasn’t choreographed. It wasn’t, OK, well, I’m gonna do this move at this time. It was coming up from inside of him, and it was coming out. That’s what it was, and that’s why people connected with it. Cause it was the real deal.”
In the end, though, it is his voice above all, that lives on; from the very beggining as a bright and eager youngster capering around the SUN studios, exitedly hammering together two musical styles to create an unforgettable allow, all of his own, right up until the later years, spent booming out ballads in the massive auditoria that were his domain during the seventies - even during the frequently written-off Hollywood years-, his voice never let him down; it is impossible from this perspective to imagine a world without Elvis, his voice booming out from radios and computers, from spaceships circling the further reaches of the galaxy, his voice echoing back; (in fact), it is almost inconceivable that any single individual could have made such a mark.
While in Italy, my brother Ira got a guitar and visited a teacher for an introductory lesson. He saw the teacher’s long nails on his right hand and was told that he would have to practice classical music. Absolutely not, said Ira, I want to be Elvis Presley. So then I volunteered to take his place and had an instrument custom-made, just to know that it was something personal, that I wasn’t sharing it with other kids, like a piano, and that impressed me. It was something I could cradle and caress. When you hold a guitar, it becomes part of you. You can feel the vibration. I was a shy kid. So being able to play something that wasn’t loud and bombastic, it expressed my own feelings.
It's our responsibility as musicians to keep pushing each other, to keep competing with each other. It's a really great competition. I see here artists like Beyonce and Alicia Keys and Rihanna and Chris Brown and Chris Martin, all in the same room, and we're going to push this music to the point where it was like in the 1960s and '70s, when the talk was about Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix, and the Beatles. We (all) will be the new Beatles. We (all) will be the new Hendrix; (in fact ) in any other industry, they'll tell you that you're supposed to do better than those in the past, so when you say, 'I want to be Elvis,' they say, 'What's wrong with you?' Well, I wanna be Elvis.
Perhaps the only other voice to touch me (Luciano Pavarotti's voice being the first), was the voice of Elvis Presley; to watch him perform as I did along with Carl (Palmer), and Keith (Emerson), both in 1971 and again later in 1976 was an absolutely awesome and breathtaking experience; like Pavarotti, Presley had the power to reduce most people to tears very quickly and indeed to move them to think very carefully about their inner spiritual beliefs; as far as singing is concerned, the human voice is a matter of the expression of passion in the understanding of the human condition and, upon seeing both of them perform, I very quickly came to realise that they were each capable of expressing more feeling, with their voices, than I had ever thought possible.
I’d done my show (in 1955), and I was back in a room. My daddy was in there with me, and we’re hearing screaming, and it was kind of scary. Daddy said, ‘Well, heck, there might be a fire or something. I’ll go check. You get your purse and stuff gathered up. So I did, and daddy left. And in a few minutes, he came back, stood there in the doorway and said, ‘Wanda, you’re not going to believe this. You’ve got to come see it for yourself.He took me to the wings of the stage, and I look out and here’s Elvis doing all these gyrations and all these girls around the stage screaming and reaching for him and crying, and I thought ‘What in the world?’ That was a first for me.
Elvis invited me out to the studio, it was at 20th Century Fox,and I went out and he recorded 'Love Me Tender'. I was standing about five yards away from him, and he was singing into a microphone and I couldn't hear him. I thought how strange it was. And then he asked for a playback and his voice came out and I thought 'Wow!' I knew so little about music, it was a different world to me, that he could be actually recording something that would come out that clearly, and yet I was like in touching distance off him and I couldn't hear his voice. I showed him around Hollywood and we got to know each other pretty well for the two weeks. He was a very sweet and innocent naive kind of guy.**
Elvis Presley did more to change the course of popular music and youth culture than any other entertainer in the twentieth century, beginning with his meeting Sam Phillips in 1954, at the Sun Records label, in Memphis. In 1956, for Presley's first single at RCA, producer Steve Sholes was adamant that Phillips' sonic treatments be adhered to, as closely as possible. So, in attempting to recreate the Sun echo sound, Sholes relied on the ambiance of RCA's then-cavernous recording studio in Nashville, rather than the tape-delay method; the major problem facing Sholes was Presley's tendency to get carried away with the music and wander away from the microphone; so, rather than spoil the singer's fun, Sholes decided to position three microphones around Presley to capture his quivering voice, no matter where he strayed; the results were breathtaking
Elvis Presley, for example, became a key supporter of Father Don Mowery’s work, having grown up in Lauderdale Courts, one of the many Memphis housing projects well served by Youth Service during this period. Interestingly, Elvis’ donations always came with a catch, namely that they never be put into the general-operating fund, but instead set aside for “special projects.” By 1985, Memphis-style programs were operating in dozens of cities all across America, father Mowery’s concept generally considered the most innovative social-service effort developed between the military and civilian sectors in the late-twentieth century. And although no one knew at that time how much of an impact Elvis’ contributions would have on the future of the organization, much of the funding for this national expansion came precisely from that “special projects” fund that Elvis Presley had supported in the 1960s.
Number one for me and no one else comes close; ignore for a second that Presley was the most beautiful human being of all time and that he was easily the most electric performer ever; in his prime, he could sing anything (rock, opera, metal, soul, blues, country – no problem); all the wonks will tell you he did his best work at Sun Records, but for me his immense '50s RCA output is so explosive that it puts everyone else to shame; it’s not just that Elvis had an amazing instrument, no one ever had so much fun putting it to use; whirling back and forth from low to high, from raspy to angelically pretty, the only singer ever that could take any song and transform it into something that sounded like it came from somewhere else, a galaxy or two away.
The first time I saw Elvis in person I knew he was special. Number one he was the prettiest man you ever saw in your life, he was really beyond handsome. There was something electric about him. Coming along when he did, moving the way he did, jumping around the way he did, plus the fact that every woman was totally mesmerized by him. Everything came to standstill when you saw Elvis. This was when he was 19 and again when he was 30. I saw him at both instances and there was the same reaction both times. You couldn't have wiped the smiles off their faces with a hand grenade. He knew what he could do and what he had and he played on it. He came along at a time in the Fifties, him and James Dean, it was the two of them. They were everything.
The first line of the record is sung without accompaniment, punctuated at the end by two beats, two chords on the piano. Exquisite. And this pattern is repeated through the verse, a cappella singing, piano crash, more a cappella singing; and then Elvis sings the chorus backed only by the beautiful, lonesome sound of a walking electric bass. The risk —only a great voice can hang out there that naked — is impressive and the payoff is phenomenal. None of which would matter, I suppose, if it weren’t that the voice that this perfect and daring bit of accompaniment supports is nothing short of awesome; spirit is walking throughout this recording, just put it on the phonograph, and the room fills with ozone. Darkness and gloom drip joyfully from every rafter. This “Heartbreak Hotel” voice is an instant old friend; it intimately and unforgettably announces the arrival of something big.
I'd like to thank the Jaycees for electing me as one of their outstanding young men. When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero of the comic book. I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie. So every dream I ever dreamed, has come true a hundred times... And these gentlemen over here, these are the type of people who care, they're dedicated, and they realize that it is possible that they might be building the kingdom of heaven, it's not just too far fetched, from reality. I'd like to say that I learned very early in life that "Without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain't got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend — without a song." So I keep singing a song. Goodnight. Thank you.
Certainly the most famous performer to be attached to a tongues-speaking fellowship was Elvis Presley; shortly after the Presleys arrived in Memphis, from Tupelo, a First Assembly of God bus swung through their rundown neighborhood, so they climbed aboard and became regulars of Pastor James Hamill's congregation; Hamill remembers Elvis attended Sunday school and was exposed there to the best in Pentecostal music; in 1957, after he achieved international acclaim, Presley said 'We used to go to these religious sing-ins all the time, and there were these perfectly fine singers nobody responded to, but there were also these other singers who cut up all over the place, jumping on the piano, moving every which way, and all of which the audience liked, so I guess I learned from them'; uninhibited Pentecostalism gave young Elvis ideas about music and performance and, from then on, he was sometimes called the "Evangelist" by his inner circle of friends.
There was no model for Elvis Presley's success; what Sun Records head Sam Phillips sensed was something in the wind, an inevitable outgrowth of all the country and blues he was recording at his Union Avenue studio; enter Presley in 1954, bringing with him a musical vocabulary rich in country, country blues, gospel, inspirational music, bluegrass, traditional country, and popular music -- as well as a host of emotional needs that found their most eloquent expression in song; his timing was impeccable, not only as a vocalist, but with regard to the cultural zeitgeist: emerging in the first blush of America's postwar ebullience, Presley captured the spirit of a country flexing its industrial muscle, of a generation unburdened by the concerns of war, younger, more mobile, more affluent, and better educated than any that had come before; (as such), the Sun recordings were the first salvos in an undeclared war on segregated radio stations nationwide.
In any case, there's something beautifully uncomfortable at the root of the vocal style that defines the pop era, the simplest example coming at the moment of the style's inception, i.e. Elvis Presley: at first, listeners thought that the white guy was a black guy and it's not too much of an exaggeration to say that when Ed Sullivan's television show tossed this disjunction into everyone's living rooms, American culture was thrilled by it, but also a little deranged, in ways that we haven't gotten over yet; ultimately, the nature of the vocals in post-Elvis popular music is the same as the role of the instrumental soloist in jazz; that's to say, if it isn't pushing against the boundaries of its form, at least slightly, it isn't doing anything at all; so, we judge popular vocals since 1956 by what the singer unearths that the song itself could never quite, and (this) explains why Elvis is always rock, even when singing "Blue Moon.
In his heyday, when he was really hot, there was an explosion of energy between Elvis and his audience. I wasn't a wild fan of Elvis's, but put the man onstage doing his music, and you got something more powerful than the sum of its parts. You got magnetism in action. Maybe it was sexual, I don't know, but if ever a performer could get up onstage and turn a crowd into crashing waves of energy, it was Elvis. Yet Elvis couldn't really whip up a Las Vegas dinner-show crowd on a regular basis. I went to see Elvis one night on the Strip and I slipped in at the back of the room and listened a minute and thought: what is going on here? There was Elvis up there working his ass off, and the crowd was just kind of politely exhausted. They clapped and whistled, but you couldn't feel them giving anything back. I felt like jumping on top of a table and yelling, "Hey everybody, that's Elvis Presley up there! You should be jumping and screaming"
I’ll never forget it. We were in the rehearsal hall, and all of a sudden, we heard this commotion coming down the hall and there was this entourage of people coming into the room, When Elvis walked into the room, my mouth dropped. I’m like, Wow, I now understand why this guy is the biggest star in the world. He had magnetism. He filled the room. He really did. And to be able to sing with him for about a year and a-half of my life was an amazing experience. He was just a great singer. When you listen to Elvis’ records, back in the day when he recorded, everything was recorded analog. There were really no computers to tune your voice or anything. He just had a natural talent. And he recorded in a recording studio just like he sang onstage. He held a microphone in his hand. He walked around the recording studio, and it was like he was doing a live performance. And he hardly ever shaded a pitch. He was just so talented, he really was.”
Elvis manages to pull off exponential, seismic shifts in energy, unleashing hoards of it through his voice whilst, within the space of a second, racing up the highest, most absolute vocal intensity; it's almost voyeuristic to see a single performer put so much energy; you look around to see if it's really possible; the voice just becomes a big tank panzering through the screen, punching in chorus after driving chorus and it is insanely, inexplicably thrilling seismic TV, bigger than the moon landing, a one-man volcano of energy; he makes it seem so damn effortless and, despite all the waiting and expected attention during the solo numbers, he always puts in an on-performance, the three unflagging takes of "If I can Dream" all intense, committed; and he does this through vocal performance alone, not moves; this is probably one of the few times where the vocals mattered most to him, and it shows; after days of intense singing, he hardly even loses his voice; I challenge any current pop singer to match this three-day heavy intensity, this sheer rock and roll energy.
When one studies the properties of atoms one found that the reality is far stranger than anybody would have invented in the form of fiction. Particles really do have the possibility of, in some sense, being in more than one place at one time. Thus, and essentially, anything that can happen does happen in one of the alternatives which means that superimposed on top of the Universe that we know of, is an alternative universe where Elvis Presley is still alive. This idea was so uncomfortable that for decades scientists dismissed it, but in time parallel universes would make a spectacular comeback. This time they'd be different, they'd be even stranger than Elvis being alive. There's an old proverb that says: be careful what you wish for in case your wish comes true. The most fervent wish of physics has long been that it could find a single elegant theory which would sum up everything in our Universe. It was this dream which would lead unwittingly to the rediscovery of parallel universes. It's a dream which has driven the work of almost every physicist.
When healthy and serious, he was flat-out the world's greatest singer. In his voice, he possessed the most beautiful musical instrument, and the genius to play that instrument perfectly; he could jump from octave to countless other octaves with such agility without voice crack, simultaneously sing a duet with his own overtones, rein in an always-lurking atomic explosion to so effortlessly fondle, and release, the most delicate chimes of pathos. Yet, those who haven't been open (or had the chance) to explore some of Presley's most brilliant work - the almost esoteric ballads and semi-classical recordings -, have cheated themselves out of one of the most beautiful gifts to fall out of the sky in a lifetime. Fortunately, this magnificent musical instrument reached its perfection around 1960, the same time the recording industry finally achieved sound reproduction rivaling that of today. So, it's never too late to explore and cherish a well-preserved miracle, as a simple trip to the record store will truly produce unparalleled chills and thrills, for the rest of your life; and then you'll finally understand the best reason this guy never goes away.
Sam Phillips originally drafted Elvis to replace an absent ballad singer but, after pairing him with ambitious guitarist Scotty Moore and his upright bass-playing friend Bill Black, the music quickly veered in another direction entirely; the SUN Sessions began as an impromptu jam, the absence of drums being purely incidental given it was a small studio, but the light echo the producer used to compensate, inadvertently had an effect on Presley’s own voice which was far more interesting; Elvis himself was a raw talent, but his singing prowess was immediately apparent, with a vocal range of roughly three octaves, perfect control and ability to jump between bass, baritone and tenor with the greatest of ease; over fifty years after the fact, we can see that what teenagers saw in him, was a genuinely brilliant vocalist that could just as easily convey a soft ballad, as it could a wild rock song; as a rule, the importance of an album is completely separate from its actual quality but, invariably, albums this influential are influential because they’re genuinely great recordings, and "The Sun Sessions" , though not formally compiled until 1976, were certainly great, great classic recordings.
Steve Sholes, who produced the session, said, “Roll the tape.” And I said, “But I haven't heard the song yet!” And he said, “Roll the tape, Bill!” and I look and the studio is totally black out there. I can't see a thing. I said, “You're kidding!” He said, “No, roll the tape!”. So, I roll the tape and I don't know what's going to happen. And a guitar starts off, and then a bass comes in, and Elvis starts singing. And I still can't see a thing in the studio. And I'm afraid to turn any mikes off because somebody may come in and start playing. All of a sudden, Elvis stops singing and just starts talking. And I say to myself, “This is awful!” because you don't normally put a lot of echo on dialogue. And I thought, next take I'll just turn it down, so we just did the take all the way through. If you listen to the dialogue, the echo matches the effect, because he says, “And the stage is bare, and I'm standing there…”. Later, I said, “How about that echo?”. Sholes said, “Screw the echo, that's a hit!”. And it was done in one take...
During my long career in broadcasting, I’ve had the chance to interview lots of famous people; it was late summer in 1976 when I was sent out to the Arena to cover some sort of special announcement from manager Bob Kunkel, whose look, as soon as we entered the room, told us that this was no hunting and fishing extravaganza he was promoting but an Elvis Presley concert; before leaving, I cornered him to ask about helping arrange an exclusive interview; he laughed and said, 'Good luck with that'; so, instead, I managed to get six tickets, at 15 dollars each, with each of our daughters having to come up with five bucks each, on their own, to help cover the cost; the show itself was memorable for the music, and his voice was strong but he looked tired and not well. A few months later, Elvis was back; this time, his voice was even stronger but he looked worse; two months later, he was dead and that's when my family and I went to see him, one last time, in a memorable trip where we and thousands of others, walked slowly through those gates to view his grave. That 'show' was for free...
My father, who was at the time Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and worked at the White House, often took me for lunch there where top dogs were allowed to have delicious meals, served by Navy Mess NCOs. We saw many famous people there, but one day, roughly three years before I myself started working there, he leaned towards me confidentially and said, “If you saw Elvis Presley in person, would you recognize him?” “I think so,” said I. “Well, look behind you.” I swiveled my hairy head around, and to my total shock, there was Elvis Presley eating with President Richard Nixon’s Chief of Staff, Bob Haldeman, a much feared but extremely pleasant and smart man. I got up, made my excuses to Mr. Haldeman, and said to Elvis, “Sir, everyone in the world is your fan, but I am your biggest fan.” In a voice and with a phrase that is incredibly famous, he simply said, “Thank yew ver’ much.” I was dazed. But I did not forget. And if you were to ask me to cite a lesson from it, it would be a line from a great Joan Didion novel called "Play It As It Lays: “You can’t win if you’re not at the table.” “Connections are golden.” Well worth remembering.
Then, in 1954, Elvis happened. The influence that the softly spoken Mississippi native had on popular music - and in particular rockabilly - is incalculable. First billed as 'The Hillbilly Cat' (again a nod towards black and white influences), the boy with the seemingly rubber limbs sang both blues and country songs infused with elements of this new rockabilly movement to the bemusement of a music industry not yet aware of the significance of what they were listening to. They didn't know it at the time, but the music establishment had just changed forever.Two years later he signed with RCA and the ensuing exposure he received on national television introduced rockabilly to its widest audience yet and, like fire to kindling, there was no stopping its spread. Other labels swooped to sign up any artists who sang even vaguely similar to Elvis and there was a bona fide musical gold rush underway and record executives and studio bigwigs fell over themselves to capitalise on this musical trend which was now sweeping the nation - ultimately playing a big part in rockabilly's eventual downfall, as more and more people tried to make money from it, (thus) watering down its raunchiness as they tried to make it appear to as large a market as possible, and (finally) taming its sound beyond recognition.
In the mid-60s, when Elvis was making those godawful movies and my friends and I were buying albums by the Stones and the Yardbirds, a mate and I would always go to see Elvis on the big screen; we knew the formula and always used to laugh about them afterwards, but what I also remember is what used to happen in the cinema: not long after the opening credits the audience would start talking and laughing through the dialogue - but the second Elvis sang everyone would stop and listen; Elvis’ voice had that effect, even when he was considered as a joke by a generation grown up on tougher music and rock musicians who seemed much more rebellious, dangerous and innovative; so, for me, it has always been about the music and even when he was all but lost to us, in those final years, you can still hear that raw passion flare up; and I defy anyone, knowing that he had just separated from his wife and was heartbroken, to listen to "Always on my Mind" and "Fool", and not be moved; you can hear a man whose heart is breaking; listening to the best of his music, whether it be raw rock’n’roll or those genuinely heart aching ballads, confirms for me that Elvis has never left the building.
I'd never thought much about rock 'n' roll until that moment, when I both caught the Elvis fever and kicked off my love of music. And I never got rid of it. There was a huge crowd, the biggest crowd I've ever seen in the streets of Ocala and then, I swear to God, a line of white Cadillacs pulled in, and I was standing up on a box to see over everyone's head, because a big roar started up when the cars pulled in. Guys in mohair suits began bounding out of each car. Is that Elvis?, I muttered every time. He finally stepped out radiant as an angel. He seemed to glow and walk above the ground. It was like nothing I'd ever seen in my life. At 50 yards, we were stunned by what this guy looked like, and then he came walking right towards uncle Earl, aunt Ellen and little old me!!! I still don't know, to this day, what he said to us, because I was just too dumbfounded. And then he went into his trailer. The day after, I learned all of those early Elvis songs and having that kind of background in rock 'n' roll, of where it had come from, has served me to this day. It became an invaluable thing to have. So for that, I thank him.
I came late to the Elvis party. I never grabbed on to his shooting star in the ascendancy of his career. I was more into groups. And then a strange thing happened. Either Elvis changed or I did. Almost two decades ago, I began my oldies show on Thursday nights on WSRK in Oneonta and this is where I had the epiphany that Elvis Presley possessed one of the best male singing voices to ever climb the charts. Deep, passionate, powerful, no frills, no twang, no screaming. Classic. In the 1950s, nobody knew what he was. Still, it is the voice. I’m in awe of it and am a little embarrassed that I jumped on the bandwagon so late. But now that I am on it, I’m in the front seat, cheering all the way. Elvis is the King, let nobody doubt it. And if you are still a parade straggler, take my suggestion. Find yourself a copy of “An American Trilogy” (1972). It was recorded live before a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden. This is Elvis’ magnum opus. As he slides from “Dixie” to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” you will be swept away. The orchestra provides the fanfare, the urban sounds of the background singers will mesmerize you and Elvis’ vocals will lift you up. This one performance can actually be transformative. It is powerful yet sensitive, subtle yet bombastic. I don’t know how, but it all works. And his voice was never better than on this song. “American Trilogy” is a Master Class. By a truly great artist.
He always wore his affinity for Elvis Presley like a batch, covered "Trouble" on his eponymous band's Thrall-Demonsweatlive EP in 1993 and most recently, filmed a Danzig Legacy concert video that stylistically recalled Presley's '68 comeback special, playing in the round with guitarists from throughout his career and singing in front of his name lit up in red. Although he credits director Mark Brooks with the theme for the film, he said he loved the idea himself and is even in the midst of recording an LP of Elvis covers. "Elvis is actually how I got into music, since I was a kid, I was cutting school pretending I was sick and I would lie at home watching old movies, and "Jailhouse Rock" came on and I was like, 'I want to do this. This is great.' And that's how I veered to music. But the thing that has connected all of his sessions is his desire to record new versions of Elvis songs for the upcoming Danzig Sings Elvis LP. "I'm stripping some of the stuff down to the bare bones, very old-school Fifties echoey slap-back vocals," he says. Every time I go back into the studio to work on a new Danzig record, if we have time, I'm like, 'Let's do another Elvis song.' So I keep adding and we'll see what ends up on the record." Some of the songs he has recorded, he says, include "Home Is Where the Heart Is" and the Faron Young–composed "Is It So Strange?"It's a connection that has been a part of him for years. "We have been stopping by Graceland and Elvis' grave since my days in [goth-punk group] Samhain," Danzig says. "Just, you know, hanging out."
Having watched Elvis onstage during his entire career, I was always amazed how Elvis was able to adapt to his audience and always rise to the occasion. Elvis was the most exciting stage performed who ever sat foot on a stage. He never allowed his music to be "manipulated" and his "light show" consisted of a handful of color lights masterfully choreographed by Lamar Fike. He had the vocal mastery to take a contemporary iconic song such as "Bridge Over Troubled Water"´ ( starting in 1970), and make it is his own. As of 1971, for instance, he would pour out his heart out onstage and could go from the buildup of "2001 A Space Odyssey" to "Johnny B Goode", to the gospel song "How Great Thou Art" and, before the audience could recover from the emotional experience of hearing/seeing Elvis perform these songs with vocal excellence, he would turn to singing one of his hits such as "Suspicious Minds". He surrounded himself with the best of the best, pertaining to the orchestra to the band, to the backup singers etc., and everyone who worked with him has confirmed that Elvis' vocal range has never been equalled. Even when Elvis' health problems were the most dramatic (i.e. visually, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.), he sang his heart out and if you listen to the "CBS 1977 Concert", which aired after Elvis died sadly, Elvis' talent and vocal range is almost a "spiritual experience", touching something wonderful inside of our soul and leaving its imprint for all time. Hence, our ears after hearing the exceptional talent of Elvis' voice long for the time when Elvis sang live and/or put out a new album, and hearing him sing was a true blessing. (In fact), not a day goes by that I don’t' miss Elvis Presley as a performer - as a Father to his daughter - and as a charitable man - and as a beloved friend surrounded by lifetime friends (i.e. Marty Lacker, Red West, Sonn y West, Lamar Fike, Billy Smith, etc.), leaving us three decades of exceptional music. Elvis Presley took the talents that God gave him and shared them with the world, gave us his time and did so with grace. These are lessons that all of us can learn from and celebrate from generation to generation.
It had been a sensational interview and I knew I had everything I needed for an excellent story for Rolling Stone. I truly felt a real connection with Paul Rogers and his new band Band Company which gave me the courage to do what I did next: invite the singer to see Elvis Presley, who was performing on the night of May 11, 1974 at the Inglewood Forum. And I knew Rodgers was a huge fan, even trying to sneak into Graceland one time back when he was with his previous band Free. As we made the 45-minute drive to the Inglewood Forum —a huge 20,000-seat arena where the Los Angeles Lakers played— Paul couldn’t stop talking about finally seeing Elvis. We parked and I handed Paul his ticket. He looked at it like it was the Holy Grail itself. We walked inside, found our seats and from the moment Presley took the stage, Rodgers could barely contain himself, screaming, shouting and jumping up and down like a kid, acting the way I did when I first saw his previous band, Free, so many years earlier when they opened for Blind Faith. Watching Paul while he watched a then-34-year old Elvis do his thing felt like an out-of-body experience. It was like some perfect circle. When the lights came up and as everybody was exiting the arena, Paul saw various members of Led Zeppelin along with Peter Grant, who by then managed both Bad Company and Led Zeppelin, going backstage. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go there myself, but I didn’t really care, all I wanted was for Paul to get to meet his hero. However, we were stopped by a pair of burly bodyguards guarding the backstage entrance. I tried to explain to them that this was Paul Rodgers, but they weren’t bulging. Eventually, we had a message relayed backstage and when Peter finally came back out, he told Paul he couldn’t get him in. If Paul was hurt by being treated so selfishly —it felt as if Led Zeppelin wanted an audience with the King all by themselves— he didn’t show it. Paul was still jubilant so when we returned to the hotel, that's when Paul told me, “I’ll just tell my friends I talked to him anyway. LOL" He had purchased a souvenir booklet and would use that as evidence though Paul and I would always know the truth.