Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Elvis Stole Black Music

Here's another thing people just made up and is probably based on something Sam Phillips said. Before he 'discovered' Elvis, Phillips supposedly said, 'If I could find a white singer who has a black sound, I'd make a million dollars.' But the fact that he said it, or thought it, shows that he recognized the racism of the record buying public, not that he himself, or Elvis, was out to loot the black sound. Music, like any creative endeavor, is always being influenced by other stuff. Brian Wilson totally copped the harmony sound of the The Four Freshmen. But the Four Freshmen got the sound, or part of it, from somebody else. It's baby steps. Nothing is created in a vacuum. You could say that The Beatles 'stole' American music. Or British Punk bands 'stole' from the Ramones. The whole notion of 'stealing' music implies some kind of plot. Like Elvis, this dirt poor white kid from Memphis, sat around and concocted this grand scheme of copying black singers in his plan to reinvent the music industry. As if.

Besides, if nobody 'stole' anything, we'd still be playing wandering minstrel songs like Allan-a-Dale from those Robin Hood stories.
Elvis liked black music and culture. He hung out in the black neighborhoods, bought his clothes at the black shops and listened to their music. And Memphis is the 1950's was the natural place for the cultures to melt together and spawn a person like Elvis.


Blogger bee enn said...

You're grossly mis/uninformed. Elvis never "hung out with black musicians for any other reason than to learn their music and STEAL it. Being influenced by music and releasing it as a unique interpretation is how music best evolves. In the case of Elvis, who never once credited the men and women who INVENTED his whole sound, he simply used their music, sound and words and played the role of some kind of rock and roller. He was a groupie at best, at a time when racism was so accepted that the true artists he stole from were not even permitted airplay on most radio stations. It was called race music for a reason. Why do you think they called it R&B if a black person sang it, and Rock and Roll if Elvis did. Not only was he an impostor, but unlike the Beatles, who "borrowed" from the original black musicians of the USA and then developed their own amazing sound and musical gifts, inept Elvis never wrote one song that he performed. Not even one. So devoid of music was he that he couldn't muster the creativity to release one song? That is pathetic. Not if he were a barroom singer. But someone given the dubious title of King of Rock and Roll? Not one original song? Not to mention he had no respect for Black people let alone artists. When Elvis said that colored's are only good for cleaning his shoes, I'm pretty sure that was a clear indication of his lack of respect for where the music he performed came from. Unlike Buddy Holly, a great rock and roller, Elvis never got mistaken for a nigger-lover. But Buddy Holly was called that. He jammed with black musicians, fell in love with the music, and played the Apollo long before it became cool or accepted. Get a clue or take a 20th century music history course at an acceptable university before you go blabbing about things you haven't a clue.
Nothing personal, of course. You're simply wrong on this. As far as the way music evolves, we're in agreement. Elvis simply isn't part of music's evolution. He only factors in as a delivery man. Yes, the Beatles, Jimmy Page, The Stones, Eric Clapton, etc. etc. all liked Elvis. But that's simply because he got the play and many other more talented and gifted SONGWRITING musicians couldn't get played due to racism. It wasn't long before the Beatles and everyone on the list of greats, dug deeper to the source of the music: LIttle Richard, B.B. King, Howlin Wolf, Robert Johnson, Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry, Son House, Willie Dixon, etc. etc. the list goes on and on. The Stones will readily admit that their catalogue simply wouldn't exist without these artists. If Elvis had within him the self-respect to properly credit the songwriters and share his royalties with them, then you could say, well he loved the music and he gave his life to it. But he was a cheap hack who didn't even have the courage to do that. Later singing songs like My Way in an ugly jumpsuit, strung out on pills and enjoying being called "the king". ?? Come, now. Elvis was a musical nothing with a soft sounding voice, but no real music within him. Have you ever been blown away by Elvis's music? Do you even believe that he is? I could go on and on with Elvis stories, but they're too widely known and too easy to point out, but I don't believe they would edify the reader. I actually don't even dislike Elvis. I just think he's irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. A paper champion. A puppet. The music he stole was so powerful, however, that he was endeared in the hearts of millions, and in that way he remains relevant and a topic of music conversation. If someone tried to embark on a career like his today, they'd get they're white sequin jumpsuit sued off of them for plagiarism.

10:47 PM  
Blogger bee enn said...

Oh. Another thing, I was checking out some of your other blog comments. I like your theories and thoughts. I appreciate you taking the time to write them and get people thinking. I think if more people talked about things civilly, we'd make much more progress. This planet, from environment to music to art to literature to media, is headed in an ugly direction with no signs of slowing down. I also dig your taste in music and totally dig John Lennon. You seem to be a real listener of music and I'm surprised you've taken the stance on Elvis that you have. Thank you for writing you blog. Take care.

10:59 PM  
Blogger John Goins said...

Thanks for the comments. Your Elvis thoughts are interesting and valid.

8:14 PM  

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