House of Rock

House of Rock

House of Rock is dedicated to all the rock bands that have rocked the world. Here you will find information about rock music, the origins, the various genres and also information on bands, their lyrics, pictures and interviews. Do enjoy your stay here and do come back often… ROCK NEVER DIES!!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Life Journey: My self

My Life Journey: My self


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Interesting People

Interesting People


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Beatles

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The Beatles were an English music group from Liverpool who continue to be held in the highest esteem for their artistic achievements, their huge commercial success, their groundbreaking role in the history of popular music, and their contributions to popular culture. Although the band's musical style was rooted in the sounds of 1950's Rock & Roll, The Beatles explored many different musical styles, such as Ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, Classical, Indian, Hard Rock, experimental, Psychedelic, and abstract art pieces. The innovative music and style of John Lennon (1940–1980), Paul McCartney (1942—), George Harrison (1943–2001), and Ringo Starr (1940—) helped to define the 1960s.

The Beatles were one of the best-selling popular musical acts of the 20th century. In the United Kingdom alone, they released more than 40 different singles, albums and EPs that reached number one. This commercial success was repeated in many other countries: EMI estimated that by 1985, the band had sold over one billion records worldwide.[1] The RIAA has certified The Beatles as the top selling artist of all time based on U.S. sales. [2]

Their early material fused elements of American rock 'n' roll and R&B into a new and influential strain of popular rock 'n roll. With Lennon and McCartney penning most of the band's songs, the band established a prototype for the "self-contained" rock group, which split with the long-established practice of producers, composers and arrangers writing the songs for popular music acts. The Beatles, were a major force behind the so-called "British Invasion" of U.K.-based rock 'n' roll bands in the United States in the mid-1960s, inspiring what the media was to term "Beatlemania" (see below). They helped to pioneer more advanced, multi-layered arrangements in both rock and pop, and were instrumental in the development of some of the dominant musical styles of the 1960s, notably folk rock, hard rock and psychedelia.

The Beatles' impact extended well beyond their music. Their clothes, hairstyles, statements, and even their choice of instruments made them trend-setters throughout the 1960s (see The Beatles' influence on popular culture), while their growing social awareness — reflected in the development of their music — saw their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s

History of Beatles

Formation and early years
In March of 1957, John Lennon formed a skiffle group called The Quarrymen (fleetingly known as The Blackjacks[3]). On 6 July of that year, Lennon met Paul McCartney while playing at the Woolton Parish Church Fete. In February of 1958, the young guitarist George Harrison joined the group, which was then playing under a variety of names. A few primitive recordings of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison from that era have survived. During this period, members continually joined and left the lineup; Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison emerged as the only constant members.

The Quarrymen went through a progression of names -- Johnny and The Moondogs, Long John and The Beatles, The Silver Beetles, The Beat Brothers -- and somehow eventually decided on "The Beatles." There are many theories as to the origin of the name and its unusual spelling; it is usually credited to John Lennon, who said that the name was a combination word-play on the insects "beetles" (as a nod/compliment to Buddy Holly's band The Crickets) and the word "beat"[4]. He also later said that it was a joke, meaning a pun on "Beat-less". In Cynthia Lennon's book "John" she suggests that John came up with the name Beatles at a "...brainstorming session over a beer soaked table in Renshaw Hall bar...". In addition to being a fan of the Crickets, Lennon is paraphrased as having said: "if you turn it round it was "les beat," which sounded French and cool".[5] Lennon, who became famous for giving multiple versions of the same story, also once claimed in Mersey Beat magazine, with tongue in cheek, that a man appeared to him on a "flaming pie" and instructed him to "call the band, The Beatles -- with an 'a'".

In May of 1960, The Beatles were hired to tour the north-east of Scotland as a back-up band with singer Johnny Gentle,[6] who was signed to the Larry Parnes agency. They met Gentle an hour before their first gig, and McCartney referred to that short tour as a great experience for the band. For this tour the chronically drummerless group secured the services of Tommy Moore, who was considerably older than the others.[7] The band’s van (driven by Gentle) had a head-on crash with another vehicle on their way back from Scotland and Moore lost some teeth and had stitches after being hit in the mouth by a guitar. Nobody else was seriously injured.[8] He left the band shortly after, feeling the age gap was too great and went back to work in a bottling factory as a fork-lift truck driver, on the advice of his girlfriend.[8]

Norman Chapman was their next drummer, but only for a few weeks, as he was called up for National Service. This was a real problem as their unofficial manager, Allan Williams, had arranged for them to perform in clubs on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany. (Paul McCartney has often said that if any of The Beatles had been individually called-up for National Service - had it been extended for just a few more weeks - the band would never have come into existence, because of the different ages of the key members at this crucial period. [9])

In August of 1960, McCartney invited Pete Best to become the group's drummer, after watching Best playing with The Blackjacks [10] in the Casbah Club. This was a cellar club operated by Best's mother Mona, in Hayman's Green, Liverpool, where The Beatles had played and often used to visit[11].

While in Hamburg, The Beatles were recruited by singer Tony Sheridan to act as his backing band on a series of recordings for the German Polydor Records label, produced by famed bandleader Bert Kaempfert. Kaempfert signed the group to its own Polydor contract at the first session in June 1961. On 23 October Polydor released the recording "My Bonnie (Mein Herz ist bei dir nur)", which made it into the German charts under the name "Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers".

Upon their return from Hamburg, the group was enthusiastically promoted by Sam Leach, who presented them for the next year and a half on various stages in Liverpool forty-nine times[12]. Brian Epstein, manager of the record department at NEMS, his family's furniture store, took over as the group's manager in 1962 and led The Beatles' quest for a British recording contract. In one now-famous exchange, an executive at Decca Records turned Epstein down flat and informed him that guitar groups were on the way out[13].

Epstein eventually met with producer George Martin of EMI's Parlophone label. Martin expressed an interest in hearing the band in the studio; he invited the quartet to London's Abbey Road studios for an audition on 6 June. Martin had not been particularly impressed by the band's demo recordings, but he instantly liked them as people when he met them. He concluded that they had raw musical talent, but said (in later interviews) that what made the difference for him that day was their wit and humour in the studio: They were very likeable, and slightly cheeky, young men. When he asked them if there was anything they did not like, Harrison replied, "I don't like your tie". The remark typified the slightly surreal blend of wry humour and irreverence toward authority that eventually became the band's in-joke with a global audience. That day, however, their audience was a single person: a detail-oriented, slightly stuffy-looking Parlophone executive who had never before worked with a rock 'n' roll band. Fortunately for the band, Martin, whose background was in comedy and novelty records, appreciated the joke. He offered the band a contract.

Martin did have a problem with Pete Best, whom he criticised for not being able to keep time; he then privately suggested to Brian Epstein that the band use another drummer in the studio. Best had some popularity and was considered good-looking by many female fans, but the three founding members had become increasingly unhappy with his drumming and his personality, and Epstein had become exasperated with his refusal to adopt the distinctive hairstyle as part of their unified look. The Beatles let Best go on 16 August 1962, leaving it to Brian Epstein to tell him. They immediately asked Ringo Starr (real name: Richard Starkey), the drummer for one of the top Merseybeat groups Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, to join the band. The Beatles had met and performed with Starr previously in Hamburg, having gone so far as to privately cut a record with him. Starr played on The Beatles' second EMI recording session on 4 September 1962, but Martin hired session drummer Andy White for their next session on 11 September, 1962.

Their recording contract was probably one of the worst at the time, as they were paid one penny for every single sold, which was split among the four Beatles. This amounted to less than one farthing per Beatle. They were paid half of one penny (split between the whole band) for sales outside of the UK. Even George Martin said later that it was "pretty awful".[14] Their publishing contract with Dick James Music (DJM) was not much better; they only got 50% of the money received, while James took the other 50%. Epstein also took a percentage of Lennon and McCartney´s share.

The Beatles' first recording session, in June 1962, was unsatisfactory to Martin, but a second in September 1962 produced a UK hit, "Love Me Do", which charted. ("Love Me Do" reached the top of the U.S. singles chart over 18 months later in May 1964.) This was swiftly followed by the recording of their second single "Please Please Me". Three months later they recorded their first album (also titled Please Please Me), a mix of original songs by Lennon and McCartney with some covers of their favourite songs. The band's first televised performance was on a program called People and Places transmitted live from Manchester by Granada Television on 17 October 1962.

Although the band experienced huge popularity in the record charts in Britain from early 1963, Parlophone's American counterpart, Capitol Records (owned by EMI), refused to issue the singles "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me" and "From Me to You"[15] in the United States, partly because no British act had ever yet had a sustained commercial impact on American audiences.

Vee-Jay Records, a small Chicago label, is said by some to have been pressured into issuing these singles as part of a deal for the rights to another performer's masters. Art Roberts, music director of Chicago powerhouse radio station WLS, placed "Please Please Me" into rotation in late February 1963, making it possibly the first time a Beatles' record was heard on American radio. Vee-Jay's rights to The Beatles were cancelled for non-payment of royalties.[16]

In August 1963 the Philadelphia-based Swan label tried again with The Beatles' "She Loves You", which also failed to receive airplay. A testing of the song on Dick Clark's TV show American Bandstand resulted only in laughter and scorn from American teenagers when they saw the group's Beatle haircuts. The famous radio DJ, Murray the K (Kaufman) featured "She Loves You" on his 1010 WINS record revue in October, to an underwhelming response.


In November 1963, The Beatles appeared on the Royal Variety Performance and were photographed with Marlene Dietrich who also appeared on the show. In early November 1963 Brian Epstein persuaded Ed Sullivan to commit to presenting The Beatles on three editions of his show in February, and parlayed this guaranteed exposure into a record deal with Capitol Records. Capitol committed to a mid-January release for "I Want to Hold Your Hand",[17] but a series of unplanned circumstances triggered premature airplay of an imported copy of the single on a Washington DC radio station in mid-December. Capitol brought forward release of the record to December 26, 1963.

Several New York radio stations — first WMCA, then WINS and WABC — began playing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on its release day, and the Beatlemania that had started in Washington was duplicated in New York and quickly spread to other markets. The record sold one million copies in just ten days, and by January 16, Cashbox Magazine had certified The Beatles record number one (in the edition published with the cover-date January 23).

This contributed to the hysterical fan reaction at JFK Airport on February 7, 1964. A record-breaking seventy-three million viewers — approximately 40% of the U.S. population at the time — tuned in to the first Sullivan appearance on February 9. During the week of April 4, The Beatles held the top five places on the Billboard Hot 100 (see The Beatles record sales, worldwide charts), a feat that has never been repeated.

In mid-1964 the band undertook their first appearances outside of Europe and North America, touring Australia and New Zealand (notably without Ringo Starr who was ill and was temporarily replaced by session drummer Jimmy Nicol). When they arrived in Adelaide, The Beatles were greeted by what is reputed to be the largest crowd of their touring career, when over 300,000 people — about one-third of the population of the city — turned out to see them. In September that year baseball owner Charles O. Finley paid the band the then unheard of sum of $150,000 to play in Kansas City, Missouri.

In 1965 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II bestowed upon them the MBE, a civil honour nominated by Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The award, at that time primarily given to military veterans and civic leaders, sparked some conservative MBE recipients to return their awards in protest, which was widely reported in the British press and was even the lead item on the BBC television news. The first two were returned in June, before The Beatles received theirs in October 1965.[18]

On August 15 that year, The Beatles performed the first stadium concert in modern rock, playing at Shea Stadium in New York to a crowd of 55,600.[19] The band later admitted that they had been totally unable to hear themselves play or sing, due to the screaming and cheering. This concert is often considered the point at which their disenchantment with performing live began.

Backlash and end of live performances

When The Beatles toured the Philippines in June of 1966, they unintentionally snubbed the nation's first lady, Imelda Marcos, who had expected the group to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace. When presented with the invitation, Brian Epstein politely declined on behalf of the group, as it had never been the group's policy to accept such "official" invitations. Unfortunately for the group, this apology was never printed. After the snubbing was widely-broadcast on Philippine television, and radio, all The Beatles' police protection disappeared, and they and their entourage had to make their way to Manila airport on their own, with the authorities throwing up every road block they could to harass them as much as possible. At the airport, roadie Mal Evans was beaten and kicked, and The Beatles themselves were pushed and jostled about by a hostile crowd. Once the group boarded the plane, Brian Epstein and Mal Evans were ordered off, and Mal Evans said, "Tell my wife that I love her..." (showing how seriously he thought the danger was of them both being shot). Epstein was forced to give back all the money that the band had earned while they were there, before being allowed back on the plane (Anthology).

The next month, a comment from an earlier interview[20] launched a backlash against The Beatles from religious and social conservatives in the Bible Belt of the US. Lennon had offered his opinion that Christianity was dying when interviewed by a British magazine on the decline of Christianity and that the group was "bigger than Jesus" (by which he meant that the group was more popular with youngsters), something that he referred to as a topic that caused concern and consideration. Beatles records were banned and burned in many cities and towns across the United States (primarily in the South) and from countries such as South Africa. Under pressure from American media, Lennon apologised for his remarks at a press conference in Chicago, on the eve of their first performance of what would turn out to be their final tour.

The Beatles performed their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on 29 August 1966. From then on, they concentrated on recording music.

The Beatles' situation took a turn for the worse when manager Brian Epstein died of a drug overdose on 27 August 1967, at the age of 32, and the band's business affairs began to unravel. Just two months earlier, on 25 June 1967, The Beatles became the first band globally transmitted on television, in front of an estimated 400 million people worldwide. The Beatles were a segment within the first-ever worldwide TV satellite hook-up — a show titled Our World. The Beatles were transmitted live from Abbey Road Studios, and their new song "All You Need Is Love" was recorded live during the show.

At the end of 1967, they received their first major negative press criticism in the UK [1] with disparaging reviews of their surrealistic TV film Magical Mystery Tour. The film was also panned by the public, although the vast majority of viewers saw the film in black-and-white, when colour was such an integral part of the film. Moreover, even if the film had been shown in colour, relatively poor picture quality and even poorer sound reproduction would have negatively affected it. The film's soundtrack is notable, since the song "Flying", written especially for the film, is one of The Beatles' only instrumental tracks.

In 1968 the group spent the early part of the year in Rishikesh, Uttar Pradesh, India, studying transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Upon their return, Lennon and McCartney took a trip to New York to announce the formation of Apple Corps; an initially altruistic business venture which they described at the time as an attempt at "western communism." The latter part of 1968 saw the band busy recording the double album The Beatles, popularly known as The White Album due to its stark white cover. These sessions saw deep divisions opening within the band.

McCartney gradually took greater charge of their own production, growing dominant in that role. Internal divisions within the band had been a small but growing problem during their earlier career; most notably, this was reflected in the difficulty that George Harrison experienced in getting his own songs onto Beatles' albums, and in the growing artistic and personal estrangement between Lennon and McCartney. Lennon also had problems getting songs onto albums, as he once complained; "Give me my three tracks on an album, and I'll be satisfied; that's all I want..."[citation needed]

On the business side McCartney wanted wife Linda Eastman's father Lee Eastman to manage The Beatles, but the remaining Beatles wanted New York manager Allen Klein to represent them. All Beatles decisions in the past were unanimous but the four could not, and would not unanimously agree on a manager. Lennon, Harrison and Starr felt the Eastmans would look after McCartney's well-being before that of the group.

Their final live performance was on the rooftop of the Apple building in Savile Row, London on 30 January 1969, during the difficult Get Back sessions (later used as a basis for the Let It Be album). Largely due to McCartney's efforts, they recorded their final album, Abbey Road in summer 1969. Lennon announced his departure to the rest of the group in mid-September 1969, but the breakup was not made public until the release of McCartney's first solo album in April 1970. One month later, Let It Be followed as their last commercial album release.

Studio band

The role of producer George Martin is often cited as a crucial element in their success. He used his experience to bring out the potential in the group, recognising and nurturing their creativity rather than imposing his views. After The Beatles stopped touring, they would increasingly come under pressure, and decided for the group to vent their artistic energy solely into recording.

Their constant demands to create new sounds on every new recording, and the imaginative - and ground-breaking - studio expertise of EMI staff engineers, including Norman Smith, Ken Townshend and Geoff Emerick all played significant parts in the innovative sounds of the albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967).

While most recording artists of the time were using two, three or four tracks in the studio, The Beatles had to use linked pairs of four-track decks, and ping-ponging tracks two, and even three times, became common. EMI delayed the introduction of eight-track recording - already becoming common in American studios - until 1968, when American studios were already upgrading to 16-tracks. EMI were loath to spend any money on new equipment - even though The Beatles were earning vast amounts - and so Abbey Road was always (technically) one step behind every other studio.

When Magic Alex proposed building a 72-track studio in the basement of the Saville Row office, everybody encouraged him, but this was later proven to be a complete disaster, as Alex had no idea about studios at all, but nevertheless convinced all of The Beatles that he could do it.

Along with studio tricks such as sound effects, unconventional microphone placements, automatic double tracking and vari-speed recording, The Beatles (mostly McCartney and Lennon) began augmenting their recordings using instruments considered unconventional for rock music at the time, including string and brass ensembles, Indian instruments such as the sitar and the swarmandel, tape loops and early electronic instruments, including Paul McCartney´s Mellotron, which was unforgettably used (with flute voices) on the intro to "Strawberry Fields Forever". McCartney once asked Martin what a guitar would sound like if it was played underwater, and was serious about trying it. Lennon also wondered what his vocals would sound like if he was hanging upside down from the ceiling. It was quite obvious that their ideas were out-stripping the technology that was available at the time.

By the time of the sessions for The White Album - released in November of 1968 - they often had two or three studios booked at the same time, where the four members would work alone or in pairs. Several tracks were cut at other studios. They often used Trident studio[21] in Soho (central London) because it was an independent studio - not connected to a record company - and it had an 8-track machine. Its layout was very similar to Abbey Road Studio Two, because it had a large room, and the window of the mixing room was high up on the wall. Olympic Studios in Barnes (south-west London), which was used extensively by The Rolling Stones, was another favoured place to record. Olympic was the scene of the famous argument between The Beatles, when Paul refused to sign the management contract proposed by Klein. The other three Beatles left, and McCartney released his frustration by drumming on "My Dark Hour" with Steve Miller, who happened to be there at the time.

Another significant factor had emerged — Lennon's passionate affair with Japanese artist Yoko Ono. The couple quickly became inseparable and Lennon further alienated the other Beatles by bringing Ono to almost every recording session; breaking the band's long-standing rule against outsiders at sessions. Lennon even ordered a bed to be installed in the studio so Yoko could recuperate (after their car crash in Scotland).

This isolation was compounded by "Revolution 9": a wildly experimental John Lennon/Yoko Ono concoction of tape loops, and "found sounds", that the three other Beatles did not think was really 'them' and tried (but failed) to keep off the album. This broke the rule that if just one of The Beatles objected to anything, it would not be accepted. It was McCartney, however, who had a stronger interest in the experimental music of Karlheinz Stockhausen ("Revolution 9" was similar to Stockhausen's Hymnen) and had composed and recorded his own experimental 'symphony' as early as 1965 ("Carnival of Light"). The earlier use by The Beatles of "tape loops", on "Tomorrow Never Knows" was driven (and the loops assembled) primarily by McCartney and the engineers.

Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" featured an 'outside' musician (his friend Eric Clapton) who played the guitar solo. Clapton was reportedly brought in as the result of a bitter dispute between Harrison and Lennon that drove Starr to take a two-week hiatus. During this time McCartney played drums on some of the tracks on the album, including "Back in the USSR", on which he also overdubbed most of the lead guitar parts. McCartney had played occasional lead guitar solos on selected songs as far back as 1966's "Taxman".

The stress of controlling everything (without Epstein) marred the troubled Get Back sessions in January of 1969 — Lennon later denounced them as being the worst recordings of their career[22] — and the project was made even more stressful by having to get up extremely early in the morning and having the presence of a film crew to capture the rehearsals for a planned movie (which eventually became the Let It Be documentary).

The iconic Abbey Road album cover with a VW Beetle car on the left.The band's differences were - more or less - put aside later in the year for the recording of what became their valedictory album, Abbey Road. While parts of The White Album and the complete original Get Back sessions emphasised a return to basic pop-rock song structures, Abbey Road took a step back in the direction of more complicated production, with (at George Martin's suggestion) the moulding of songs and song fragments on Side Two into a unified whole. Abbey Road also featured the introduction of the synthesiser to the group's sound. It was mostly employed sparingly, but was also used as a source of white noise at the end of "I Want You (She's so Heavy)." The last track - "Her Majesty" - was an accident. Having been removed from the medley on Side Two, an engineer tagged it on to the end rather than throw it away. When the band heard it again it was decided to use it (copies of Abbey Road were then sent to Buckingham Palace).

By the end of 1969, the band had effectively broken up and the only piece of unfinished business was the as-yet unreleased Get Back project. The Beatles had been unhappy with the results from the Get Back sessions (produced originally by Glyn Johns of Olympic Studios with only minor participation by George Martin), and for some time it looked as if the material would be scrapped altogether. After a delay of over a year, American producer Phil Spector was brought in by Lennon and Harrison to edit, remix and overdub the tapes. His heavily-orchestrated "Wall of Sound" production style is evident on the Let It Be album, finally released in April 1970. McCartney was particularly angered by Spector´s grandiose treatment on the likes of "The Long and Winding Road."

Breakup and aftermath

In 1971 it was discovered that Allen Klein had stolen £5m from The Beatles holdings. McCartney could not dissolve his business with The Beatles easily, so this led to him suing the others so as to cut off all of his business interests with the group. Not speaking with the other band members until 1973, Lennon admitted to McCartney that they should have gone with the Eastmans' management, and this helped mend the personal relationship between the two.

Following the breakup, the only album to feature all four Beatles (although not on the same song) was Ringo, a 1973 Starr solo album. A jam session between John Lennon and Paul McCartney was recorded on March 31, 1974, when McCartney visited Lennon in Los Angeles, California. They played with a number of other musicians, including Stevie Wonder. Believed to be the last time the pair recorded together, this tape has been released on bootleg as A Toot and a Snore in '74.

Any hopes of a reunion were dashed when Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman, on December 8, 1980. However, in 1981 the three remaining Beatles (with Linda McCartney and Denny Laine doing backing vocals) recorded the song "All Those Years Ago"; a tribute to John Lennon written by George Harrison and released on his album Somewhere in England. Another virtual reunion occurred in 1995 with the release of two original Lennon recordings which had the additional contributions of the remaining Beatles mixed in to create two hit singles, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love".

Three volumes (six CDs in total) of unreleased material and studio outtakes were also released, as well as a documentary and television miniseries, in a project known as The Beatles Anthology. On December 15, 2005, McCartney and Starr, along with the families of Lennon and Harrison (who died 29 November 2001) sued EMI in a royalties dispute in which Apple Corps claimed EMI owes The Beatles £30 million.

They still remain enormously popular. In 1995, and 1996, five Anthology collections of CDs were released - each containing two CDs of never-before-released Beatles material - based on the Anthology documentary series. 450,000 copies of Anthology 1 were sold on its first day of release, reaching the highest volume of single-day sales ever, for an album. In 2000, a compilation album named 1 was released, containing almost every number-one single released by the band from 1962, to 1970. The collection sold 3.6 million copies in its first week and more than 12 million in three weeks worldwide, becoming the fastest-selling album of all time and the biggest-selling album of the year 2000. The collection also reached number one in the United States and 33 other countries.

The BBC have a large collection of Beatles recordings, mostly comprising original studio sessions from 1963 - 1968. Much of this material formed the basis for a 1988 radio documentary series The Beeb's Lost Beatles Tapes. Later, in 1994, the best of these sessions were given an official EMI release on Live at the BBC.

On June 30, 2006, Cirque de Soleil opened their show LOVE, a tribute to The Beatles, at the The Mirage in Las Vegas. It featured Beatles music remixed, recombined, and re-mastered by George Martin and his son Giles Martin.

Changes in their music

The Beatles were fans of almost every kind of music that they heard on the radio, or heard on imported records from America. These early records were not officially imported to the UK, but were taken to Liverpool by sailors who had bought them in America.

The Beatles were, in the beginning, heavily influenced by Rock and Roll. This later graduated into Beat Music, which is the reason why they chose The Beatles name. Mid-sixties Beatles material shifted away from dance music, and the tempo of their songs was varied from the back-beat rhythm of their beginnings. McCartney and Lennon never lost their affection for the driving R&B of Little Richard, and Chuck Berry, and this was reflected in many songs, from "I Saw Her Standing There" to "Revolution", "Birthday", and "Helter Skelter".

Lennon is conventionally portrayed as having played the major role in steering The Beatles towards psychedelia ("Rain" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" from 1966, and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "I Am the Walrus" from 1967), but McCartney was also influential being involved in the London avant garde scene, which was itself moving towards psychedelia during the same period. McCartney (who lived in London) would often tell John about any new "happening" or "movement", and Lennon was always keen to hear about it, and to endorse it. They created many of the tape loops used on "Tomorrow Never Knows" and experimented with musique concrete techniques and electronic instruments, as well as creating many experimental audio-visual works. [2]

In 1965, having recently become interested in Indian music, George Harrison purchased a sitar, which he played on the song "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)", the first incident of such an instrument being used on a rock n'roll record. He later took sitar lessons from maestro Ravi Shankar, and implemented further elements of Eastern music and spirituality into his songs, notably "Love You To" and "Within You Without You". These musical decisions greatly increased the influence of Indian music on popular culture in the late 1960s.

Beginning with the use of a string quartet (arranged by George Martin) on "Yesterday" in 1965, The Beatles pioneered a modern form of art song, exemplified by the double-quartet string arrangement on "Eleanor Rigby" (1966), "Here, There and Everywhere" (1966) and "She's Leaving Home" (1967). Lennon and McCartney´s interest in the music of Bach led them to use a piccolo trumpet on the arrangement of "Penny Lane", and the use of a Mellotron at the start of "Strawberry Fields Forever".

The decision to stop touring - in 1966 - caused an abrupt change in their musical direction. They had already shown a clear trend towards progressively greater complexity in technique and style but this accelerated noticeably on their Revolver album. The subject matter of their post-touring songs branched out as well, as all manner of subjects were written about.

The extreme complexity of Sgt. Pepper reached its height on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album, parts of which (for example "It's All Too Much" and "Only a Northern Song") were left over from 1967, and were used because The Beatles themselves were not interested in the animated film as a project and did not want to record new material for it.

Lennon and McCartney renewed their interest in rootsy forms towards the close of The Beatles' career, e.g. "Yer Blues" and "Birthday" from 1968 to "Don't Let Me Down" the following year.

On film

The Beatles had a largely successful film career, beginning with A Hard Day's Night (1964), a loosely scripted comic farce, sometimes compared to the Marx Brothers in style. It focused on Beatlemania and their hectic touring lifestyle, and was directed in a quasi-documentary style in black-and-white by the up-and-coming Richard Lester, who was known for having directed a television version of the successful BBC radio series The Goon Show as well as the off-beat short film The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film.

In 1965 came Help!; an Eastmancolour extravaganza, which was also directed by Lester, and was shot in exotic locations (such as Salisbury Plain, with Stonehenge visible in the background; the Bahamas; and Salzburg and the Tyrol region of the Austrian Alps) in the style of a James Bond spoof along with even more Marx Brothers-style zaniness: For example, the film is dedicated "to Elias Howe, who, in 1846, invented the sewing machine."

In 1966 Lennon took time off to play a supporting character in the film called How I Won the War, again directed by Lester. It was a satire of World War II films, and its dry, ironic British humour was not well received by American audiences.

The Magical Mystery Tour film was essentially Paul McCartney's idea, which was thought up as he returned from a trip to the U.S. in the late spring of 1967, and was loosely inspired by press coverage McCartney had read about Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters' LSD-fuelled American bus odyssey. McCartney envisaged taking this idea and blending it with the peculiarly English working class tradition of charabanc mystery tours. The film was critically dismissed when it was aired on the BBC's premier television network, BBC-1, on Boxing Day — a day primarily for traditional "cosy, family entertainment". The film appeared radical avant-garde by those standards, and instead of showcasing the lovable "moptops"/Beatles as they had been up until then, it showed them as part of the hippie counter-culture of 1967, which was at odds with the British establishment of that era. Compounding this culture clash was the fact that BBC-1, at that time, still only transmitted programmes in black & white, while Tour was in colour. The film was repeated a few days later on the BBC's second channel (BBC-2) in colour — receiving more appreciation, but the initial negative media reaction is what is most remembered.

The animated Yellow Submarine followed in 1968, but had little direct input from The Beatles, save for a live-action epilogue and the contribution of four new songs (including "Only a Northern Song", an unreleased track from the Sgt. Pepper sessions). It was acclaimed for its boldly innovative graphic style and clever humour, along with the soundtrack. The Beatles are said to have been pleased with the result and attended its highly publicised London premiere, every one of The Beatles thought their own voices (narrated by actors) were not quite right, whilst saying that the other three were perfect.

In 1969, Ringo Starr took second billing to Peter Sellers in the satirical comedy The Magic Christian; in a part which had been written especially for him. Starr later embarked on an irregular career in comedy films through the early 1980s, and his interest in the subject led him to be the most active of the group in the film division of Apple Corp, although it was Harrison who would achieve the most success as a film producer.

The rooftop concertLet It Be was an ill-fated documentary of the band that was shot over a four-week period in January 1969. The documentary — which was originally intended to be simply a chronicle of the evolution of an album and the band's possible return to live performance — captured the prevailing tensions between the band members, and in this respect it unwittingly became a document of the beginning of their break-up. The band initially shelved both the film and the album, instead recording and issuing Abbey Road. But with so much money having been spent on the project, it was decided to finish and release the film and album (the latter with considerable post-production by Phil Spector) in spring 1970. When the film finally appeared, it was after the break-up had been announced, and it was viewed by shocked fans as the last - but not the best - tribute to the band.


Major influences included:

Elvis Presley. They recorded a number of Presley covers at the Abbey Road studio, and bootleg copies have existed since the late 1960s. Interviews for the documentary Anthology has all four band members speaking very highly of Presley, with Paul McCartney referring to him as "The guru". In other interviews McCartney has credited Presley as the rocker who influenced him the most. Ironically, the band and Presley met only once, on a tour in 1965, and Presley, five years later, joined President Richard Nixon in publicly denouncing the band as "a real force for anti-American spirit".
Chuck Berry. They recorded covers of Berry songs: "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Rock and Roll Music" on their early albums, and also performed many other of his classics in their live repertoire. When Lennon first met Berry (as Berry walked in the dressing room door) Lennon shouted out, "Chuck Berry, my hero!".
Buddy Holly was an early influence. The group played many of his songs on stage in their early days. They also recorded "Words of Love". It is accepted that their name was inspired by Holly’s backing group, The Crickets. Stuart Sutcliffe suggested "Beetles" which John Lennon altered to Beatles, but his version was a joke, meaning "Beat-less".
In their early days as performers the band took some cues from local Liverpool favourites Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, with whom Starr had played prior to joining The Beatles.
American rockabilly music; particularly that of Eddie Cochran and Carl Perkins. The band's early stage shows featured several Perkins tunes; some of these (notably "Honey Don't", featuring an early Starr vocal) that they eventually recorded on their albums.
Early Motown artists. Early Beatles covers included exact copies of Barrett Strong's Motown recording of "Money (That's What I Want)" and The Marvelettes' hit "Please Mr. Postman".
Little Richard. Some of their songs (especially in their early repertoire) featured falsetto screams similar to his, most notably on McCartney's rendition of Richard's song, "Long Tall Sally". In 1962, Richard socialised with The Beatles in Hamburg and they performed together at the Star-Club. "Long Tall Sally" became a permanent fixture in early Beatles' concert performances.
Ragtime and music hall; owing much to the musical interests of McCartney's father. This is apparent in songs like "When I'm Sixty-Four" (composed during The Quarrymen period), "Honey Pie", and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". About their early single, "From Me to You", McCartney said, "It could be done as an old rag-time tune... especially the middle-eight, but we're not writing the tunes in any particular idiom."
The Everly Brothers. Lennon and McCartney copied Don and Phil Everly's distinctive two-part harmonies. Their vocals on "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me" were inspired by the Everlys' vocals on "Cathy's Clown" (1960), the first recording to ever reach number one simultaneously in the USA and England. "Two of Us", the opening track on Let It Be was overtly composed in the Everlys' style and McCartney acknowledged this in the recording, with a spoken "Take it Phil". McCartney later name-checked 'Phil and Don' in his solo track, "Let Em In".
Bob Dylan, particularly from 1965, with "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" (Help!) and "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" (Rubber Soul). Dylan introduced The Beatles to marijuana (1964) in a New York hotel room when he offered the Fab Four pot as a consequence of his misconception that the lyrics in their hit song "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (Meet the Beatles!) were "I get high" instead of "I can't hide". This initial partaking in hallucinogenic drugs grew into heavier experimentation with LSD, heroin, and various other substances whose psychedelic effects were commonly thought to have manifested themselves in the band's music. The Beatles, in turn, would influence Dylan's move into an electrified rock sound in his music.
Country Music. All four band members have talked about their influences from American country music. The group covered Buck Owens "Act Naturally" and also recorded an original country number "What Goes On?", both sung by Starr. Starr's first original Beatles composition, "Don't Pass Me By" for The White Album, had a distinct country sound. Both Starr and McCartney would continue to record country material in their solo careers. McCartney was once asked to record a duet with Kenny Rogers, which he accepted but nothing was ever recorded.
Ravi Shankar. Although not a major influence on Lennon, McCartney, or Starr, the impact of Shankar's lessons in both Indian music and spirituality to George Harrison made a permanent impact on Harrison's musical style, provoking greater use of spiritual themes in the band's music, and more intense musical experimentation, climaxing with "Within You Without You" on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which features solely Indian instrumentation.


Rickenbacker, Gretsch, Epiphone, Gibson, and Fender guitars
Ludwig drums
Steinway, and Blüthner pianos
Höfner, Fender and Rickenbacker basses
Hammond, Vox and Lowrey electric organs
Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and Hohner Pianet electric pianos


Monday, August 21, 2006

The King of Rock & Roll - Elvis Presley

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Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977), known simply as Elvis and also called "The King of Rock 'n' Roll" or simply "The King", was an American singer and actor.

Presley started as a singer of rockabilly, borrowing many songs from rhythm and blues (R&B) numbers and country, which morphed into rock & roll. He was the most commercially successful singer of rock and roll, but he also sang ballads, country music as well as gospel. In a musical career of over two decades, Presley set records for concert attendance, television ratings, and record sales, and became one of the biggest selling artists in music history.

The young Presley became an icon of modern American pop culture, sometimes held to represent the American Dream of rising from rags to riches through talent and hard work, more often representing teen sexuality with a hint of delinquency. During the 1970s, Presley reemerged as a steady performer of old and new hit songs on tour and particularly as a performer in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he was known for his jump suits and capes as well as massive attendance figures. Until the last years of his life, he continued to perform before sell-out audiences around the U.S. He died, presumably from a heart attack combined with abuse of prescription drugs, in Memphis, Tennessee. His popularity as a singer has survived his death at 42.

Parents, childhood and youth

Elvis Aron Presley was born on January 8, 1935 at around 4:13 a.m. in a two-room shotgun house in East Tupelo, Mississippi to Vernon Elvis Presley, a truck driver, and Gladys Love Smith, a sewing machine operator. His twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley, was stillborn, thus leaving him to grow up as an only child. The surname Presley was Anglicized from the German name "Pressler" during the Civil War. His ancestor Johann Valentin Pressler immigrated to America in 1710. Presley was mostly of Scottish [2] and English descent, although his family tree also includes Native American, Irish, Jewish and German roots.

Presley's parents were very protective of their only surviving child. His mother Gladys "worshipped him", said a neighbor, "from the day he was born." In his teens he was a very shy person, a "kid who had spent scarcely a night away from home in his nineteen years." His fellow classmates who threw “things at him - rotten fruit and stuff - because he was different, because he was quiet and he stuttered and he was a mama’s boy” teased him.

In 1938, when Presley was three years old, his father was convicted of forgery. Vernon, Gladys's brother Travis Smith, and Luther Gable went to prison for altering a check from Orville Bean, Vernon's boss, from $3 to $8 and then cashing it at a local bank. Vernon was sentenced to three years at Parchman Farms Penitentiary. Though Vernon was released after serving eight months, this event deeply influenced the life of the young family. During her husband's absence, Gladys lost the house and was forced to move in briefly with her in-laws next door. The Presley family lived just above the poverty line during their years in East Tupelo.

In 1941 Presley started school at the East Tupelo Consolidated. There he seems to have been an outsider. His few friends relate that he was separate from any crowd and did not belong to any "gang", but, according to his teachers, he was a sweet and average student, and he loved comic books. In 1943 Vernon moved to Memphis, where he found work and stayed throughout the war, coming home only on weekends.

In January 1945 Gladys took Presley to Tupelo Hardware to buy a birthday present. Though Presley wanted her to buy him a rifle, he settled on a guitar. Gladys paid $7.75 for the guitar including sales tax.

In 1946 Presley started at a new school, Milam, which went from grades 5 through 9, but in 1948 the family left Tupelo, moving 110 miles northwest to Memphis, Tennessee. Here too, the thirteen-year-old lived in the city's poorer section of town and attended a Pentecostal church. At this time, he was very much influenced by the Memphis blues music and the gospel sung at his church.

Presley entered Humes High School in Memphis taking up work at the school library and after school at Loew's State Theatre. In 1951 he enrolled in the school's ROTC unit, tried unsuccessfully to qualify for the high school football team (supposedly cut from the team by the coach for not trimming his sideburns and ducktail), spending his spare time around the African-American section of Memphis, especially on Beale Street. In 1953 he graduated from Humes, majoring in History, English, and Shop.

After graduation Presley worked first at Parker Machinists Shop, and then for the Precision Tool Company with his father, finally working for the Crown Electric Company driving a truck, where he began wearing his hair the trademarked pompadour style.

Musical roots

The common story that the Presleys formed a popular gospel trio who sang in church and traveled about to various revival meetings is probably not true. However, in 1945 Presley, just ten years old, entered a singing contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. Decked out in a cowboy outfit, he had to stand on a chair to reach the microphone singing Red Foley's "Old Shep." He won second place, a $5 prize and a free ticket to all the rides.

On his birthday in January 1946 he received a guitar purchased from Tupelo Hardware Store. In his seventh-grade year at Milam he seems to have taken this guitar to school every day. Many of the other children denigrated him as a "trashy" kind of boy playing trashy "hillbilly" music. Over the next year, Vernon's brother Johnny Smith and Assembly of God pastor Frank Smith gave him basic guitar lessons.

Some years later, in Memphis, Tennessee, the young Presley "spent much of his spare time hanging around the black section of town, especially on Beale Street, where bluesmen like Furry Lewis and B.B. King performed". B.B. King says that he "knew Elvis before he was popular. He used to come around and be around us a lot. There was a place we used to go and hang out on Beale Street". Beale Street in Memphis was notorious for its bars, prostitutes and gambling establishments. Music producer Jim Dickinson called it "the center of all evil in the known universe". But it was a place where young Presley could hear black music.

The opening chapter of Peter Guralnick's book Last Train To Memphis deals with musical influence coming from birth exclusively through his family's attendance at the Assembly of God, a Pentecostal Holiness church. Rolling Stone magazine wrote that: "Gospel pervaded Elvis' character and was a defining and enduring influence all of his days." The United States government mandatory personal examination of Presley as part of the approval process to make his Graceland home a National Historic Landmark wrote that Presley "clearly embraced African American music and culture and did so at a pivotal point of cultural change in American history" but that " Gospel music was his primary musical influence." The U.S. government historian stated, "In the early years of the twentieth century, the evangelical Pentecostal movement with its "vibrant worship style" became extremely popular with working-class Christians, black and white." The church services in which the Presley family participated was where people "jumped, shouted, danced, and fell out for Jesus, because, in a word, they acted "crazy, " they became a national laughingstock, the Holy Rollers of fable and cliché." According to the study, the family's move to Memphis expanded his musical horizons when he began to attend Sunday services at the East Trigg Baptist Church.

Sun recordings

On July 18, 1953 Presley paid $3.25 to record the first of two double-sided demos acetates at Sun Studios, "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin", which were popular ballads at the time. According to the official Presley website, Presley gave it to his mother as a much-belated birthday present. Presley returned to Sun Studios (706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee) on January 4, 1954. He again paid $8.25 to record a second demo, "I'll never stand in Your Way" and "It Wouldn't Be the Same Without You" (master 0812).

Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, who had already recorded bluesmen such as Howlin' Wolf, James Cotton, B.B. King, Little Milton and Junior Parker, was looking for "a white man with a Negro sound and the Negro feel," with whom he "could make a billion dollars." The Sun Records producer felt that a black rhythm and blues act stood little chance at the time of gaining the broad exposure needed to achieve large-scale commercial success."

Phillips and assistant Marion Keisker heard the Presley discs and called him on June 26, 1954 to fill in for a missing ballad singer. Although that session was not productive, Phillips put Presley together with local musicians Scotty Moore and Bill Black to see what might develop. During a rehearsal break on July 5, 1954, Presley began singing a blues song written by Arthur Crudup called "That's All Right". Phillips liked the resulting record and on July 19, 1954 he released it as a 78-rpm single backed with Presley's hopped-up version of Bill Monroe's bluegrass song "Blue Moon of Kentucky". Memphis radio station WHBQ began playing it two days later, the record became a local hit and Presley began a regular touring schedule hoping to expand his fame beyond Tennessee.

However, Sam Phillips had difficulty persuading Southern white disk jockeys to play Presley's first recordings. The only place that played his records at first was in the Negro sections of Chicago and Detroit and in California. In the South the hillbilly disk jockeys refused to play him because they said he was singing "darky" music. However, his music and style began to draw larger and larger audiences as he toured the South in 1955. Soon, demand by white teenagers that their local radio stations play his music overcame much of that resistance and as Rolling Stone magazine wrote years later in Presley's biography: "Overnight, it seemed, "race music," as the music industry had labeled the work of black artists, became a thing of the past, as did the pejorative "hillbilly" music. Still, throughout 1955 and even well into 1956 when he had become a national phenomenon, Presley had to deal with an entrenched racism of die-hard segregationists and their continued labeling of his sound and style as vulgar "nigger music". Allegations of racism were made against Presley, possibly by those segregationist elements that hated what he was doing. Jet examined the issue and in its August 1, 1957 edition, the African American magazine concluded that: "To Elvis, people are people regardless of race, color or creed."

Country music star Hank Snow arranged to have Presley perform at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry and his performance was well received. Nonetheless, one of the show's executives was not impressed and hinted that Presley should give up his music.

Presley's second single, "Good Rockin' Tonight", with "I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine" on the B-side, was released on September 25, 1954. He then continued to tour the South. On October 16, 1954, he made his first appearance on Louisiana Hayride, a radio broadcast of live country music in Shreveport, Louisiana, and was a hit with the large audience. His releases began to reach the top of the country charts. Following this, Presley was signed to a one-year contract for a weekly performance, during which time he was introduced to Colonel Tom Parker.

National exposure began on January 28, 1956, when Presley, Moore, Black and drummer D.J. Fontana made their first National Television appearance on the Dorsey brothers' Stage Show. It was the first of six appearances on the show and the first of eight performances recorded and broadcast from CBS TV Studio 50 at 1697 Broadway, New York. After the success of their first appearance they were signed to five more in early 1956 (February 4, 11, 18 and March 17 and 24).

Presley and his manager "Colonel" Tom Parker

On August 15, 1955, “Hank Snow Attractions”, a management company jointly owned by singer Hank Snow and “Colonel” Tom Parker signed Presley. Shortly thereafter, "Colonel" Parker took full control and recognizing the limitations of Sun Studios, negotiated a deal with RCA Victor Records who acquired Presley's Sun contract for $35,000 on November 21, 1955. Presley's first single for RCA "Heartbreak Hotel" quickly sold one million copies and within a year RCA would go on to sell ten million Presley singles.

Elvis Presley at the Mississippi-Alabama State Fair, 1956Parker was a master promoter who wasted no time in furthering Presley's image, licensing everything from guitars to cookware. Parker's first major coup was to market Presley on television. First, he had Presley booked in six of the Dorsey Shows (CBS). Presley appeared on the show on January 28, 1956, then on February 4, 11 & 18, 1956, with two more appearances on March 17 & 24, 1956. In March, he was able to obtain a lucrative deal with Milton Berle (NBC), for two appearances: The first appearance on April 3, 1956. The second appearance was controversial pertaining to Presley's performance of "Hound Dog" on the June 5, 1956. It sparked a storm over his "gyrations" while singing. The controversy lasted through the rest of the 50's. However, that shows drew such huge ratings that Steve Allen (ABC) booked him for one appearance, which took place early on July 1, 1956. That night, Allen had for the first time beaten The Ed Sullivan Show in the Sunday night ratings, prompting Sullivan (CBS) to book Presley for three appearances: September 9, and October 28, 1956 as well as January 6, 1957, for an unprecedented fee of $50,000. On September 9, 1956, at his first of three appearances on the Sullivan show, Presley drew an estimated 82.5% percent of the television audience, calculated at between 55-60 million viewers.

Parker eventually negotiated a multi-picture seven-year contract with Metro Goldwyn Mayer that shifted Presley's focus from music to films. Under the terms of his contract, Presley earned a fee for performing plus a percentage of the profits on the films, most of which were huge moneymakers. These were usually musicals based around Presley performances, and marked the beginning of his transition from rebellious rock and roller to all-round family entertainer. Presley was praised by all his directors, including the highly respected Michael Curtiz, as unfailingly polite and extremely hardworking.

Presley began his movie career with Love Me Tender (opened on November 15, 1956). The movies Jailhouse Rock (1957) and King Creole (1958) are regarded as among his best early films.

Parker's success led to Presley expanding the "Colonel's" management contract to an even 50/50 split. Over the years, much has been written about "Colonel" Parker, most of it critical. Marty Lacker, a lifelong friend and a member of the Memphis Mafia, says he thought of Parker as a "hustler and scam artist" who abused Presley's reliance on him. Priscilla Presley admits, "Elvis detested the business side of his career. He would sign a contract without even reading it." This would explain the strong influence the Colonel had on Presley. Nonetheless, Lacker acknowledged that Parker was a master promoter.

Cultural impact

Even in the 1950s era of blantant racism, Presley would publicly cite his debt to African American music, pointing to artists such as B. B. King, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Jackie Wilson, Ivory Joe Hunter, and Fats Domino. The reporter who conducted Presley's first interview in New York City in 1956 noted that he named blues singers who "obviously meant a lot to him. I was very surprised to hear him talk about the black performers down there and about how he tried to carry on their music." Later that year in Charlotte, North Carolina, Presley was quoted as saying: "The colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I’m doin' now, man, for more years than I know. They played it like that in their shanties and in their juke joints and nobody paid it no mind 'til I goosed it up. I got it from them. Down in Tupelo, Mississippi, I used to hear old Arthur Crudup bang his box the way I do now and I said if I ever got to a place I could feel all old Arthur felt, I’d be a music man like nobody ever saw. "

Little Richard said of Presley: "He was an integrator. Elvis was a blessing. They wouldn’t let black music through. He opened the door for black music." B. B. King said he began to respect Presley after he did Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup material and that after he met him, he thought the singer really was something else and was someone whose music was growing all the time right up to his death.

Up to the mid 1950s black artists had sold miniscule amounts of their recorded music relative to the national market potential. Black songwriters had mostly limited horizons and could only eke out a living. But after Presley purchased the music of African American Otis Blackwell and had his "Gladys Music" company hire talented black songwriter Claude Demetrius, the industry underwent a dramatic change. In the spring of 1957 Presley invited African American performer Ivory Joe Hunter to visit Graceland and the two spent the day together, singing "I Almost Lost My Mind" and other songs. Of Presley, Hunter commented, "He showed me every courtesy, and I think he's one of the greatest."

Years later after his death, certain elements in American society, without examining recorded history or providing any evidence at all, began to simply dismiss Presley as no more than a racist Southerner who stole black music. In his scholarly work Race; Rock, and Elvis (University of Illinois Press website), Tennessee State University professor Michael T. Bertrand examined the relationship between popular culture and social change in America and these allegations against Presley. Professor Bertrand postulated that Presley's rock and roll music brought an unprecedented access to African American culture that challenged that 1950s segregated generation to reassess ingrained segregationist stereotypes. One of the most, if not the most, prestigious source for book reviews is the American Historical Review who wrote: "(Michael T. Bertrand) convincingly argues that the black-and-white character of the sound, as well as Presley's own persona, helped to relax the rigid color line and thereby fed the fires of the civil rights movement." The U.S. government report stated: "Presley has been accused of "stealing" black rhythm and blues, but such accusations indicate little knowledge of his many musical influences. "However much Elvis may have 'borrowed' from black blues performers (e.g., 'Big Boy' Crudup, 'Big Mama' Thornton), he borrowed no less from white country stars (e.g., Ernest Tubb, Bill Monroe) and white pop singers (e.g., Mario Lanza, Dean Martin)," and most of his borrowings came from the church; its gospel music was his primary musical influence and foundation."

"A danger to American culture"
By the spring of 1956, Presley was fast becoming a national phenomenon and teenagers came to his concerts in unprecedented numbers. When he performed at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair in 1956, 100 National Guardsmen surrounded the stage to control crowds of excited fans. The singer was considered to represent a threat to the moral well being of young American women. The Roman Catholic Church denounced him in its weekly magazine in an article headlined "Beware Elvis Presley."

In an interview with PBS television social historian Eric Lott said, "All the citizens' councils in the South called Elvis 'nigger music' and were terribly afraid that Elvis, white as he was, being ambiguously raced just by being working-class, was going to corrupt the youth of America." Robert Kaiser says he was the first who gave the people "a music that hit them where they lived, deep in their emotions, yes, even below their belts. Other singers had been doing this for generations, but they were black."[19] Therefore, his performance style was frequently criticized. Social guardians blasted anyone responsible for exposing impressionable teenagers to his "gyrating figure and suggestive gestures." The Louisville chief of police, for instance, called for a no-wiggle rule to halt "any lewd, lascivious contortions that would excite the crowd."[20] Even Priscilla Presley confirms, "His performances were labeled obscene. My mother stated emphatically that he was 'a bad influence for teenage girls. He arouses things in them that shouldn't be aroused.' "

According to rhythm and blues artist Hank Ballard, "In white society, the movement of the butt, the shaking of the leg, all that was considered obscene. Now here's this white boy that grinding and rolling his belly and shaking that notorious leg. I hadn't even seen the black dudes doing that." Presley complained bitterly in a June 27, 1956, interview about being singled out as “obscene”. Due to his controversial style of song and stage performances, municipal politicians began denying permits for Presley appearances. This caused teens to pile into cars and traveled elsewhere to see him perform. Adult programmers announced they would not play Presley's music on their radio stations due to religious convictions that his music was "devil music" and to racist beliefs that it was "nigger music." Many of Presley's records were condemned as wicked by Pentecostal preachers who thumped their pulpits with Bibles, warning congregations to keep heathen rock and roll music out of their homes and away from their children's ears (especially the music of "that backslidden Pentecostal pup.") However, the economic power of Presley's fans became evident when they tuned in alternative radio stations playing his records. In an era when radio stations were shifting to an all-music format, in reaction to competition from television, profit-conscious radio station owners learned quickly when sponsors bought more advertising time on new all "rock and roll" stations, some of which reached enormous markets at night with clear channel signals from AM broadcasts.

In August 1956 in Jacksonville, Florida a local Juvenile Court judge called Presley a "savage" and threatened to arrest him if he shook his body while performing at Jacksonville's Florida Theatre, justifying the restrictions by saying his music was undermining the youth of America. Throughout the performance, Presley stood still as ordered but poked fun at the judge by wiggling a finger. Similar attempts to stop his "sinful gyrations" continued for more than a year and included his often-noted January 6, 1957 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show (during which he performed the spiritual number "Peace in the Valley"), when he was filmed only from the waist up.

American icon

According to Rolling Stone magazine, "it was Elvis who made rock 'n' roll the international language of pop." A PBS documentary described Presley as "an American music giant of the 20th century who single-handedly changed the course of music and culture in the mid-1950s."[24] His recordings, dance moves, attitude and clothing came to be seen as embodiments of rock and roll. African-American blues, Christian gospel, and Southern country heavily influenced his music.

Presley sang hard driving rockabilly, rock and roll dance songs and ballads, laying a commercial foundation upon which other rock musicians would build their careers. African-American performers like Little Richard and Chuck Berry came to national prominence after Presley's acceptance among mass audiences of white teenagers. Singers like Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and others immediately followed in his wake. The Beatles superstar John Lennon later observed, "Before Elvis, there was nothing."

During the post-WWII economic boom of the 1950s, many parents were able to give their teenaged children much higher weekly allowances, signaling a shift in the buying power and purchasing habits of American teens. During the 1940s bobby soxers had idolized Frank Sinatra, but the buyers of his records were mostly between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two. Presley triggered a juggernaut of demand for his records by near-teens and early teens aged ten and up. Along with Presley's "ducktail" haircut, the demand for black slacks and loose, open-necked shirts resulted in new lines of clothing for teenaged boys whereas a girl might get a pink portable 45-rpm record player for her bedroom. Meanwhile American teenagers began buying newly available portable transistor radios [25] and listened to rock 'n' roll on them (helping to propel that fledgling industry from an estimated 100,000 units sold in 1955 to 5,000,000 units by the end of 1958). Teens were asserting more independence and Presley became a national symbol of their parents' consternation.

Presley in 1957Presley's impact on the American youth consumer market was noted on the front page of The Wall Street Journal on December 31, 1956 when business journalist Louis M. Kohlmeier wrote, "Elvis Presley today is a business," and reported on the singer's record and merchandise sales. Half a century later, historian Ian Brailsford (University of Auckland, New Zealand) commented, "The phenomenal success of Elvis Presley in 1956 convinced many doubters of the financial opportunities existing in the youth market."

Military service

On December 20, 1957, at the peak of his career, Presley received his draft board notice for his mandatory service in the United States Army. He was worried that his absence in the public eye for 2 years, while serving in the Army, might end his career. Even more worried were Hal Wallis and Paramount who already spent $350,000 on pre-production of Presley's latest film King Creole and they feared of suspending the project or worse canceling it. Fortunately, the Memphis Draft Board granted Wallis and Colonel Parker a deferment until March 20 so Presley could complete his film project.

While serving in Germany, Presley met his wife-to-be - the then 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu; noted International Herald Tribune correspondent and humorist Art Buchwald; future US Secretary of State Colin Powell (then a lieutenant with the Third Army Division in Germany); and Walter Alden, the father of Presley's last girlfriend Ginger Alden. Presley returned to the United States on March 2, 1960, and was honorably discharged on March 5.

After serving his duty in the military, he became more mature and lost his raw and rebellious edge. However, he gained respect from older and more conservative crowds who initially disliked him before he entered the Army.

1960's film career

Presley was an enthusiastic James Dean fan and returned from the military eager to make a career as a movie star. Although "he was definitely not the most talented actor around."[30], he "became a film genre of his own."[31] Pop film staples of the early sixties, such as the Presley musicals and the AlP beach movies were mainly produced for a teenage audience and called by film critics a "pantheon of bad taste"[32] In the sixties, at Colonel Parker's command, Presley withdrew from concerts and television appearances, after his final appearance with Frank Sinatra on NBC entitled "Welcome Home Elvis" where he sang "Witchcraft/Love Me Tender" with Sinatra, in order to make these movies. "He blamed his fading popularity on his humdrum movies," Priscilla Presley recalled in her 1985 autobiography, Elvis and Me. "He loathed their stock plots and short shooting schedules. He could have demanded better, more substantial scripts but he didn't." According to most critics, the scripts of the movies "were all the same, the songs progressively worse." The latter were "written on order by men who never really understood Elvis or rock and roll."[34] For Blue Hawaii and its soundtrack LP, "fourteen songs were cut in just three days."[35] Julie Parrish, starring in Paradise, Hawaiian Style, says that Presley hated such songs and that he "couldn't stop laughing while he was recording" one of them. [36]

Although some film critics chastised these movies for their lack of depth, the fans turned out and they were enormously profitable. According to Jerry Hopkins's book, Elvis in Hawaii, Presley's "pretty-as-a-postcard movies" even "boosted the new state's (Hawaii) tourism. Some of his most enduring and popular songs came from those movies." Altogether, Presley had made 27 movies during the 1960s, "which had grossed about $130 million, and he had sold a hundred million records, which had made $150 million."

1968 comeback

Presley's star had faded slightly over the 1960s as he made his movies and America was struck by changing styles and tastes after the "British Invasion" spearheaded by the Beatles.

Until the late sixties Presley continued to star in many B-movies, featuring soundtracks that were of increasingly lower quality. He had become deeply dissatisfied with the direction his career had taken over the ensuing seven years, most notably the film contracts with a demanding schedule that eliminated creative recording and giving public concerts. This lead to a triumphant televised performance later dubbed the '68 Comeback Special, aired on the NBC television network on December 3, 1968 and released as an album by RCA. In a special that saw him return to his rock and roll roots, Rolling Stone magazine called it "a performance of emotional grandeur and historical resonance".

The comeback of 1968 was followed by a 1969 return to live performances, first in Las Vegas and then across the United States. The return concerts were noted for the constant stream of sold-out shows, with many setting attendance records in the venues where he performed.

Two concert films were also released: Elvis: That's the Way It Is (1970) and Elvis on Tour (1972).

The final years

After seven years off the top of the charts, Presley's song "Suspicious Minds" hit number one on the Billboard music charts on November 1, 1969. He also reached number one on charts elsewhere: "In the Ghetto" did so in West Germany in 1969 and "The Wonder of You" did so in the UK in 1970.

The "Aloha from Hawaii" concert in January 1973 was the first of its kind to be broadcast worldwide via satellite and was seen by at least one billion viewers worldwide. The RCA soundtrack album to the show reached number-one in the charts.

Presley recorded a number of country hits in his final years. Way Down was languishing in the American Country Music chart shortly before his death in 1977, and reached number one the week after his death. It also topped the UK pop charts at the same time.

Between 1969 and 1977 Presley gave over 1,000 sold-out performances in Las Vegas and on tour. He was the first artist to have four shows in a row sold to capacity crowds at New York's Madison Square Garden.

From 1971 to his death in 1977 Presley employed the Stamps Quartet, a gospel group, for his backup vocals. He recorded several gospel albums, earning three Grammy Awards for his gospel music. In his later years his live stage performances almost always included a rendition of How Great Thou Art, the 19th century gospel song made famous by George Beverly Shea. Although some critics say that the singer travestied, commercialized and soft-soaped gospel "to the point where it became nauseating."[40], twenty-four years after his death, the Gospel Music Association inducted him into its Gospel Music Hall of Fame (2001).

After his divorce in 1973 Presley became increasingly isolated, overweight, and battling an addiction to prescription drugs which took a heavy toll on his appearance, health, and performances. He made his last live concert appearance in Indianapolis at the Market Square Arena on June 26, 1977.

Death and burial

On August 16, 1977, at his Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, Presley was found lying on the floor of his bedroom's bathroom by his fiancée, Ginger Alden, who had been asleep. He was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead at 3:30 P.M. Presley was 42 years old.

Elvis Presley funeral procession. At a press conference following his death, one of the medical examiners declared that he had died of a heart attack. Heart disease was very prevalent in his family. His mother, Gladys Presley, died of a heart attack brought on by acute hepatitis at age 46. Presley's father Vernon died of heart failure two years later, in 1979, at age 63.

Rolling Stone magazine devoted an entire issue to Presley (RS 248) and his funeral was a national media event. [13] Hundreds of thousands of Presley fans, the press, and celebrities lined the street to witness Presley's funeral and Jackie Kahane gave the eulogy.

Presley was originally buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis next to his mother. After an attempted theft of the body, his remains and his mother's remains were moved to Graceland to the "meditation gardens."

Following Presley's death in 1977, US President Jimmy Carter said, "Elvis Presley's death deprives our country of a part of itself. He was unique and irreplaceable. His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture. His following was immense and he was a symbol to people the world over, of the vitality, rebelliousness, and good humor of his country."

Controversy surrounding death

In her 1987 book Elvis and Kathy, friend and backup vocalist Kathy Westmoreland wrote "Everyone knew he was sick, that each public appearance brought him to the point of exhaustion."

According to Peter Guralnick's book, Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley (1999), "drug use was heavily implicated in this unanticipated death of a middle-aged man with no known history of heart one ruled out the possibility of anaphylactic shock brought on by the codeine pills he had gotten from his dentist, to which he was known to have had a mild allergy of long standing...There was little disagreement in fact between the two principal laboratory reports and analyses filed two months later, with each stating a strong belief that the primary cause of death was polypharmacy, and the BioScience Laboratories report...indicating the detection of fourteen drugs in Elvis' system, ten in significant quantity."

In his book, Elvis: The Last 24 Hours, Albert Goldman even went as far as to suggest that Presley committed suicide by overdosing on a stash of drugs that he stockpiled. David Stanley, Presley's stepbrother, who was at Graceland the day Presley died, is alleged to have removed the needles and drug packets near Presley's body before the paramedics arrived, suggesting that he did not want to see Presley's name tarred with the brush of suicide.

On the other hand, some of his closest family members, friends, band members, and background singers have long disputed stories concerning Presley's alleged prescription drug abuse and "self-destructive" lifestyle. At the same time, they have not denied that he did take prescription medications for bona fide or suspected health problems. For instance, Vernon Presley, Kathy Westmoreland, Charlie Hodge, and J.D. Sumner pointed out that Presley also suffered from severe health problems unrelated to drug abuse. These health problems included glaucoma, chronic insomnia, and bone cancer. The illness may have increased his dependency on prescription medication. In 1977 alone, his personal physician Dr. George Constantine Nichopoulos (usually referred to as "Dr Nick") had prescribed 10,000 hits of amphetamines, barbiturates, narcotics, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, laxatives, and hormones.

Political beliefs

In the early 1960s he described himself as an admirer of the Democratic President John F. Kennedy. In 1970 however he wrote to J. Edgar Hoover requesting to join the FBI at the height of its campaign against political activism. In December of that year he met with President Richard Nixon. According to the "Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation" photo of President Nixon's meeting with Presley in the Oval Office is the most requested image in the history of the U.S. Government. [14]

Presley told the President he was a huge admirer of everything he was doing, and asked to be made a "Federal Agent at Large" in order to help get the country off drugs. Nixon duly made Presley a "Federal Agent at large" in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Extraordinarily, Presley was able to present Nixon with a gift of a Colt .45 handgun in the oval office.

Presley also denounced The Beatles to Nixon, describing some of their left-wing political statements as "very anti-American."


Presley's early experiences being teased by his fellow classmates for being a "mama's boy" had a deep influence on his clumsy advances to girls. He didn't have any friends as a teen. Beginning in his early teens, Presley embarked upon the "indefatigable pursuit of girls", but was totally rebuffed. At school, anyone "wishing to provoke a little girl to tears of rage had only to chalk "Elvis loves -" and then the girl's name on the blackboard when the teacher was out of the room." [41] Presley's first sweetheart was the fifteen-year-old Dixie Locke, whom the singer dated steadily since graduating from Humes and during his Sun Records time. While still a rising star, Presley also had a relationship with June Juanico.

Anita Wood, another girl whom Gladys Presley hoped he would eventually marry, was with Presley as he rose to superstardom, served in the US military and returned home in 1960. Wood lived at Graceland for a time but moved out after confronting him over Priscilla Beaulieu. Presley had met Beaulieu in Germany while stationed there with the U.S. Army. They were married on May 1, 1967 in Las Vegas, Nevada and daughter Lisa Marie was born nine months later on February 1, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. After five years of marriage Elvis and Priscilla separated on 23 February 1972, agreeing to share custody of their daughter.

Lasting legacy

By 1957 Presley was the most famous entertainer in the world. After pioneer band leader Bill Haley spawned interest in rock and roll in Western Europe, Presley's records triggered a wide shift in tastes with effects lasting many decades. Singers in dozens of countries made Presley-influenced recordings in many languages and his own records were sold around the globe, even behind the former Iron Curtain. By 1958 Cliff Richard, the so-called "British Elvis", was rising to prominence in the UK, and in France Johnny Hallyday, known as the "Elvis of France", became a rock and roll idol singing in French, soon to be followed by others like Claude François and, in Italy, by Adriano Celentano and Bobby Solo, all of whom were heavily influenced by Presley's early style. Later, as his first movies were shown throughout the world, Presley-mannered stage performers and singers appeared everywhere, from Latin America to Asia, the Middle East, and even in some parts of Africa. Those of other American rockers who began touring there followed airplay and sales of Presley recordings across Europe. Teenagers around the world copied his "ducktail" hair style.

For the next 21 years, until he died, Presley's singing style, mannerisms and look continued to be imitated with surprising regularity, wherever his image, songs, or movies happened to be shown, regardless of major shifts in popular culture, music, and manner of dress, all of which he had helped influence in the first place. But it was only after his death that an industry built itself around him. Many people of every race, creed and nationality taking up a career as professional Elvis impersonators — or Elvis Tribute Artists (ETAs) as they now prefer to be called.

Conversely, a parallel industry, mostly kitsch, continues to grow around his memory, chronicling his dietary and chemical predilections along with the trappings of his wide celebrity. Many impersonators still sing his songs. "While some of the impersonators perform a whole range of Presley music, the raw 1950s Elvis and the kitschy 1970s Elvis are the favorites."[42]

Among his many accomplishments, Presley is only one of four artists (Roy Orbison, Guns N' Roses and Nelly being the others) to ever have two top five albums on the charts simultaneously.

He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986), the Country Music Hall of Fame (1998), and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame (2001).

Young Elvis Presley In 1993, Presley's image appeared on a United States postage stamp.

Upon announcing that Presley's home, the Graceland Mansion, was being designated as a National Historic Landmark, U.S Interior Secretary Gale Norton noted on 27 March 2006, that “It didn’t take Americans and the rest of the world long to discover Elvis Presley; and it is clear they will never forget him. His popularity continues to thrive nearly 29 years after his passing, with each new generation connecting with him in a significant way.”

Presley in the 21st century

Interest in Presley's recordings returned during the buildup to the 2002 World Cup, when Nike used a Junkie XL remixed version of his "A Little Less Conversation" (credited as "Elvis Vs JXL") as the background music to a series of TV commercials featuring international soccer stars. The remix hit number one in over 20 countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia. [43] At about the same time, a compilation of Presley's US and UK Number 1 hits, Elv1s: 30, was being prepared for release. "A Little Less Conversation" (remix version) was quickly added as the album's 31st track just before release in October 2002.

Nearly 50 years after Presley made his first hit record and 25 years after his death, the compilation reached number one on the charts in the US, the UK, Australia and many other countries. A re-release from it, "Burning Love" (not a remix), also made the Australian top 40 later in the year.

Presley's renewed fame continued with another remix in 2003 (this time by Paul Oakenfold) of "Rubberneckin'", which made the top three in Australia and top five in the UK. This was followed by another album called 2nd to none, a collection of his hits, including the "Rubberneckin'" remix that just failed to reach number one.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary in mid-2004 of Presley's first professional recording, "That's All Right", it was re-released, and made the charts around the world, including top three in the UK and top 40 in Australia.

In early 2005 in the United Kingdom, RCA began to re-issue Presley's 18 UK number-one singles as CD-singles in the order they were originally released, one of them a week. The first of these re-issues, "All Shook Up", was ineligible to chart due to its being sold together with a collector's box which holds all 18 singles in it (it actually sold enough to be number two). The second, "Jailhouse Rock", was the number one in the first chart of 2005, and "One Night"/"I Got Stung", the third in the series, replaced it on the January 16 chart (and thus becoming the 1000th UK number one entry).

All of these have reached top five in the official charts. [44] These re-releases have made Presley the only artist so far to spend at least 1000 weeks in the British top 40. [45]

On the UK singles charts, Presley went to #1 the most times (21, three of them hitting #1 twice), spent the most weeks there (80), as well as had the most top tens and top forty hits. In the UK album charts, he is second to the Beatles (21), with 16 chart toppers, as well as earning the most top ten, and top forty albums. Still in the album category, his longevity record boasts an almost fifty year gap between his first, and last hit album.

In total, he has spent 2,574 weeks in the UK singles and album charts, way ahead of his closest competitors, namely Cliff Richard (1,982), Queen (1,755), the Beatles (1,749), and Madonna (1,660).

CBS recently aired a TV miniseries, Elvis starring Irish actor Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Presley.

Shortly after taking over the management of all things Elvis from the Elvis Presley Estate (which retained a 15% stake in the new company, while keeping Graceland and the bulk of the possessions found therein), Robert Sillerman's CKX company produced a DVD and CD featuring Presley (titled "Elvis by the Presleys"), as well as an accompanying two-hour documentary broadcast on Viacom's CBS Network, which alone generated $5.5 million.

A channel on the Sirius Satellite Radio subscriber service is devoted to the life and music of Presley, with all broadcasts originating from Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.

In a list [citation needed] of the greatest English language singers of the 20th century, as compiled by BBC Radio, Presley was ranked second. The poll was topped by Frank Sinatra, with Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald also in the top ten.

In July of 2005, Presley edged out Oprah Winfrey to be named the Greatest Entertainer in American history in the Greatest American election conducted by the Discovery Channel and America Online.

In mid October of 2005, Variety named the top 100 entertainment icons of the 20th century, with Presley landing on the top ten, along with the Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Chaplin, James Dean and Mickey Mouse.

A week later, Forbes magazine named Presley, for the fifth straight year, the top-earning dead celebrity, grossing US$45 million for the Presley estate during the period from October of 2004, to October 2005. Forbes pointed out that CKX spent $100 million in cash, and stock, for an 85% interest in Presley's income stream in February 2005.


Presley has been, and continues to be, the most justly and unjustly criticized entertainer in history, the latter of which in part helping to explain his extraordinary endurance. One such critic, for instance, Entertainment Weekly writer Tom Sinclair, stated recently that Presley didn't deserve to be called "The King of Rock and Roll." He believed that Presley fell short of artistry and creativity compared with other rock and roll stars such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, adding that Presley didn’t write his own songs and used musical props. The latter, in spite of the fact that numerous respectable artists, from B.B. King and Bob Dylan to The Beatles, praised Presley.

Thankfully, this unfair criticism does not permeate amongst the great majority of the purists, music artist or most notably amongst the general public itself, for two main reasons.

First of all, the title itself, which Presley abhorred in the first place, was not given to Presley because he was the finest musician, or the best writer in what was then, a still nascent genre as far as the general public, both in the US, and then the world, was concerned. The title was bestowed upon him by the weekly "Variety" paper, in late November of 1956, for having topped the singles and album charts five and two times, respectively, as well as for selling in excess of 10 million records (half the output of RCA, then the largest record label in the world) within the preceding 12 month period. In addition, in 1956 alone, a cumulative audience of over 250 million, including the 60 million viewers who saw his first performance in the “Ed Sullivan Show”, saw Presley, on television. Another reason "Variety" called him the "King of Rock and Roll" was because of his having performed live, to over 500,000 teenagers that year, breaking personal attendance records wherever he appeared to actual throngs of teenagers most of which were in true, not imagined or pre-conceived hysterics. The fact that Presley-related product inundated stores to the tune of US$20m in gross sales, also in 1956, ranging from Teddy Bears to lipstick, as reported by the "Wall Street Journal", had also much to do with his having earned that title, again, according to "Variety"

Secondly, the quality and huge quantity of what Presley left behind, in terms of the purity and ferocity of his voice, both as a balladeer, a rocker, a gospel singer, a country and western artist or simply as an r&b practitioner, all of which can be heard in his 710-plus recordings, as well as the tremendous eclecticism, and changes, in his stage mannerisms over the years captured, for the most part, either in television footage or in films, does not allow unfairly motivated critics to overpower the legacy itself.

It is little wonder that, without this knowledge in mind, critics or artists who have not heard, or seen the best that Presley did offer would judge him negatively over the title controversy, prompting, many years later, someone as Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols to say after Presley's death, "Good riddance to bad rubbish." Another critic of Presley was Chuck D of Public Enemy said, "Elvis was a hero to most, but he never meant s--- to me." [46]. He later retracted, however, when interviewed for the TV special "Elvis lives"

Elvis lives?

There is a belief in some quarters that Presley did not die in 1977. Many fans persist in claiming he is still alive, that he went into hiding for various reasons. This claim is allegedly backed up by thousands of so-called Elvis sightings that have occurred in the years since his death. [47] Critics of the notion state that a number of Presley impersonators can easily be mistaken for Presley and that the urban legend is merely the result of fans not wanting to accept his death.

Two main reasons are given in support of the belief that Presley faked his death:

On his grave, his middle name Aron is misspelled. The double 'A' was removed after his twin brother Jesse Garon was stillborn, Presley's parents went to great lengths to have it changed on the official birth certificate. [48]
"Hours after Presley's death was announced, a man by the name of Jon Burrows (Presley's traveling alias) purchased a one way ticket with cash to Buenos Aires."[49]
Two tabloid newspapers, the Weekly World News and The Sun, ran articles covering the continuing "life" of Presley after his death, in great detail, including a broken leg from a motorcycle accident, all the way up to his purported "real death" in the mid 1990s. [Citation needed] However, since his "real death", the Weekly World News has continued to claim he is still alive, thus contradicting its initial story.

Both ETAs and the belief that Presley still lives figure into the story of Bubba Ho-tep, which features him living in a Texas nursing home after switching lives with an Elvis impersonator (Presley goes so far as to make a living "impersonating" himself). According to the movie, it was the impersonator who died in 1977, but the documentation of the switch was accidentally destroyed, preventing Presley from ever reclaiming his "real" life.

FBI files on Presley

As Presley was a very popular star, the FBI had files on him of more than 600 pages. [50] According to Thomas Fensch, the texts from the FBI reports dating from 1959 to 1981 represent a "microcosm [of Presley's] behind-the-scenes life." For instance, the FBI was interested in death threats made against the singer, the likelihood of Presley being the victim of blackmail and particularly a major extortion attempt while he was in the Army in Germany, complaints about his public performances, a paternity suit, the theft by larceny of an executive jet which he owned and the alleged fraud surrounding a 1955 Corvette which he owned, and similar things.


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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Present day (2000-Present)

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In the early 2000s the entire music industry was shaken by claims of massive theft of music rights using file-sharing tools such as Napster, resulting in lawsuits against private file-sharers by the recording industry group the RIAA.

After existing in the musical underground, garage rock saw a resurgence of popularity in the early 2000s, with the garage rock revival. Bands like The White Stripes, The Strokes, Jet, The Vines, and The Hives all released successful singles and albums. This wave is often referred to as back-to-basics rock because of its raw sound. Currently popular rock trends include a style of pop-punk that is often referred to as emo (though some disagree with that label), which draws its style from softer punk and alternative rock styles from the 1980s. Many new bands have become well-known since 2001, including Jimmy Eat World, Hawthorne Heights, Dashboard Confessional and Taking Back Sunday; however, this subgenre has come to be frequently maligned by many rock enthusiasts. Additionally, the retro trend has led to the revitalization of dance-rock. Bands like Franz Ferdinand, Hot Hot Heat, The Killers and The Bravery mix post-punk sensibilities with electronic beats.

The biggest factor that has contributed to the resurgence of rock music is the rise of paid digital downloads in the 2000s. During the 90s, the importance of the buyable music single faded when Billboard allowed singles without buyable, album-separate versions to enter its Hot 100 chart (charting only with radio airplay). The vast majority of songs bought on paid download sites are singles bought from their albums; songs that are bought on a song-by-song basis off artist's albums are considered sales of singles, even though they have no official buyable single.

Meanwhile, "Top 40" music today is dependent on either synthesizer orchestration or sampling, prominent in such pop artists like Gwen Stefani, Ashlee Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Simpson, Hilary Duff and Kelly Clarkson.

During much of the 2000s, hip hop music dominated the US charts pop charts, with artists such as 50 cent, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Nelly, Eminem and Jay Z selling millions of records since the turn of the millennium. According to a recent study by Teenage Research Unlimited, hip hop is the most popular format of music among adults from ages 18-34. R&B acts like Mariah Carey , Usher and Alicia Keys are very popular on the pop charts, although with the exception of Carey, none of these acts, rap or R&B, sell as many albums as rock did. Nearly all of the best selling albums of all time are still rock.
In many other nations, such as the UK and Australia, rock figures much more prominently in album sales than in the US. Rap and hip hop, although popular in those nations, are not as dominant as in the USA. American bands such as The White Stripes, The Killers and The Strokes have more success in the UK than in the USA, and British bands such as The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, Coldplay, Oasis, Kaiser Chiefs, Gorillaz, and Arctic Monkeys are still the UK's biggest selling artists. Emo remains a marginal genre, although it is arguably growing in popularity in the UK.


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