I have always appreciated his voice. He had a very good range. I also grew up in an "Elvis House" but never tired of his music. Much more of an icon and contribution to rock music than Michael Jackson, and although he had issues later in life, he really was a stand up person. And who wouldn't have problems dealing with his level of fame?
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"And who wouldn't have problems dealing with his level of fame?"
- A lot of artists. For instance, Charles Aznavour made over 60 movies composed 1000 songs and sold over 100 million records. In 1998, Charles Aznavour was chosen as Entertainer of the Century by CNN and users of Time Online from around the globe (beating Presley and Dylan)).
He is currently 85 and Ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland.
As for Elvis being stand-up person, he was spying on the other artists to get rid of as he said "hippies element". Here is a letter he send to Nixon to obtain badge of Federal Agent: http://www.pimall.com/nais/pivintage/images/elvisnote.pdf
I am, and have been for the past 32 years.
By the way Sony/BMG has a division aimed at collectors called "Follow That Dream" dedicated to, among other things, Elvis' Classic Albums. They are remastered, and the sound is absolutely fabulous on most of these reissues. "Elvis Is Back", "Memphis, Tennessee" and "Elvis Country" stand out from the pack of about 85 issues.
It is well worth to check it out...I'm glad I did!
My wife loves Elvis. We visited Graceland and Sun Studios in Memphis this past summer and I enjoyed all that immensely.
I find Elvis' story fascinating but admittedly am not a huge fan of his music as a whole to date. I've been revisiting a lot of 50's R&R and related genres since visiting MEmphis this past summer. I picked up the Elvis 50's masters 4 CD set just last week and am in process of going deeper into Elvis' music, at least during his prime, currently than I ever have before. So far, the verdict is still out for me.
Tpreaves, Elvis could have been a very good actor, but he was never given a serious opportunity. You should view "Love Me Tender" which was the only movie where he had a real chance to act. Hollywood just wanted to continually produce Clambake type movies for him because they made money. They didn't want him to act, just show up. I didn't grow up during the Elvis era, but heard his music via my older siblings. I really feel that you are seriously discounting his talent and his impact on music by saying that he was an overhyped rock star.
Kijanki, thanks for the insight. I will now seek another idol. I am so bummed.
In addition to what has been said here I agree Elvis could have been given better oportunities in the movies. Tom Parker was a greedy control freak. Anothe r movie he did a good job in was King Creole, take the song performances out and it was a good script and he did a good job. It's a shame his career was so guided and that he wasn't allowed to do more of what he really wanted.
Not to mention his gospel.
My Mom, who was a big Elvis fan, bought tickets for the whole family to see Elvis in concert at Curtis Hixon Hall in Tampa. That was 1970 when I was 16 and although I have been to many concerts since, there was no one else like Elvis. He gave one of the best performances I've ever attended and I will never forget it. Thanks Mom and Elvis!
I grew up listening to elvis, my parents met him at his house in belair Ca. , they waited outside the gate and he pulled in with Ann Margaret, let in my mom dad and aunt uncle, was very gracious,Ann was a different story, so I am told, we have pics of him with his arms around my mom and aunt and shaking hands with my dad and uncle,along with his, Thanks elvis presley, autograph on the back of the map,kinda neat,I always felt his soul when listening to him and really prefered his late 60s and 70s music,I find his live performances for the most part to be incredible, the energy, emotion, soul,its as if the music was a part of him,as far as I am concerned he will never be equaled. And the best thing about some of his recorded music is that it was done very well, high quality,I could go on and on but I think you get my point.....Pat70 thanks for the tip about BMG/Sony FTD.
He was a very fine singer with a wonderful voice and a good entertainer right up until the end (I saw one his last shows and, though he was in no condition to swivel his hips, the show was very good. People like to pile on, but his period of virtual self parody was actually pretty brief.) He also had the courage to champion race music and I'm sure that wasn't always a picnic. OTOH, my visit to Graceland was educational. It's so over the top that it's funny. The extreme indulgence I saw there leads me to believe that he was basically an unsophisticated kid who fell into a ton of money and eventually got overwhelmed.
I think Bill really misses a big point comparing Madonna to Elvis. They were both cultural icons whose primary appeal was that of performer, not really great "artists." Elvis really did break some new cultural ground though, unlike Madonna. As a cute white boy, he could could channel a good bit of scary sexual rock n' roll excitement to a white audience in a way that black artists couldn't at the time. I don't hold that against him though, he was a product of the times just like we all are. Before Tom Parker got a hold of his career, he really did have lightning in a bottle for a brief period. It's easy to forget the first Sun recordings in light of the long Parker/RCA period that followed.
Elvis was better than a fair singer. However, Bill's point is taken. The ongoing fascination with Elvis is almost certainly due more to his cultural impact than any musical factor. Deservedly or not, to the masses at that time, he was THE white face of black music. That is an impression that will last.
I've been listening to a lot of old Sun Records recordings from the 50s lately, including Elvis and various other acts.
Elvis' vocalizations and arrangements are unique and recognizable, but no better or worse than the others for the most part.
Now, who would most of the more affluent, record-buying public back then rather look at, Elvis or most of those other guys?
Answer that question to understand why Elvis was leaps and bounds more successful over the next few years than anyone else and then became a visual icon later as well as a result of his formulaic movies that he himself apparently did not care for much, despite the money they made.
Johnny Cash is the other SUN Records act from that time who remained popular over time. The topical substance behind his music has actually aged well and even made him perhaps more popular than ever late in his career and after his death.
Both were most fond of gospel music actually as I understand it.
My wife is the big Elvis fan. Elvis is OK but I'm more of a Johnny Cash fan I suppose if I had to chose.
Fair singer??? Perhaps you are unfamilair with his voice or this is an opinion based on musical preference ?I feel I must come to his defense, I thought well perhaps because I enjoy his music/singing it is my opinion and what I hear is wrong, so I googled Elvis Presleys voice and wikpedia came up first so I read... at the bottom of the page are quotes from professors, muscians, voice coaches, sound engineers etc..I wont bore you with all of them but here are a few quotes......................................Elvis Presley has been described variously as a baritone and a tenor. An extraordinary compass- the so-called register-, and a very wide range of vocal color have something to do with this divergence of opinion. The voice covers two octaves and a third, from the baritone low-G to the tenor high B, with an upward extension in falsetto to at least a D flat. Presley's best octave is in the middle, D-flat to D-flat, granting an extra full step up or down. Call him a high baritone. In "It's'now or never", (1960), he ends it in a full voice cadence (A, G, F), that has nothing to do with the vocal devices of R&B and Country. That A-note is hit right on the nose, and it is rendered less astonishing only by the number of tracks where he lands easy and accurate B-flats. Moreover, he has not been confined to one type of vocal production. In ballads and country songs he belts out full-voiced high G's and A's that an opera baritone might envy. He is a naturally assimilative stylist with a multiplicity of voices - in fact, Elvis' is an extraordinary voice, or many voices"
Henry Pleasants, in his book "The Great American Popular Singers" (1974) "I suppose you'd had to call him a lyric baritone, although with exceptional high notes and unexpectedly rich low ones. But what is more important about Elvis Presley is not his vocal range, nor how high or low it extends, but where its center of gravity is. By that measure, Elvis was all at once a tenor, a baritone and a bass, the most unusual voice I've ever heard"
Gregory Sandows, Music Professor at Columbia University, published in "The Village Voice"........Surely these people must know what they are talking about .....or perhaps its the definition of a good singer/voice and what that would encompass' that I dont understand,though I can assure you the over 1 billion viewers in 1973 would disagree with the assessment that he is a fair singer/voice.Its not all hype etc., although it is a combination of it all, Perhaps thats why he has been labeled THE KING.
I admit to being very envious of you guy's that have visited Graceland and Sun Studios, along with other stories of Elvis. For me, he has always stood above all others for his vocal ability and creative control of the music they all made. Some great clarification above on his vocal range, thanks for that :-). I get pretty defensive when people, usually young uns here in England dismiss him for how he became towards the end with little or no attempt to understand how and why he became the world biggest and first real superstar. And when I read that he was a fair singer, well lets just leave that til we meet eh? Elvis Presley will not be surpassed, that I can promise you..
The Sun Sessions and the 50's Masters box are well worth having. Some of the stuff from the 60's is good, but it's scattered around different collections. The 60's Masters, for instance, does not have the movie music or his gospel stuff. A cheaper way to go is The Top Ten Hits (meaning, his singles that made the Top Ten List), a 2-CD set. The Number One Hits is a good CD but leaves off too many good songs that didn't quite hit #1. A combo of The Sun Sessions and The Top Ten Hits is easy on the pocketbook and surprisingly complete.
I found that a lot of musicians appreciate Elvis.
Even jazz musicians have found inspiration in his music.
One of the more recent albums that pays tribute to Elvis is
Paul Berner Band . ’’The Road to Memphis’’ album is a purely instrumental album with reed man Michael Moore playing the lead.
The songs are telling the story of Elvis and Colonel Parker,
here is an except from the liner notes,
Paul Berners masterpiece ’’The Road to Memphis, The Devil and Elvis Presley’’ is the Soundtrack to the movie that still has to be made. A movie about Elvis, focusing on the saga of a country boy becoming a king, a movie that find Elvis standing on the same cross road where blues singer Robert Johnson had been standing some 30 years before. And there, on that crossroad, ’en route to Memphis, the devil in the form of colonel Tom Parker appears and buys Elvis’ soul in exchange for fame and wealth.
But on the other hand when one listens to track 6; ’’The Colonel ’’ another more complex picture of Tom Parker emerges, that of a man in pain and remorse.
Was he the Devil? Just before the melody enters you hear small squeaks from dried monkey hands and a voodoo priest blowing smoke, trying in vain to undo the whole deal.
Then Parker, Michael Moore’s clarinet, ’’sings his song’’.
A song about the illegal immigrant Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk, changing his identity and becoming Tom Parker, going from the old world to the new, from rags to riches, from laborer to kingmaker. Maybe Parker too had been standing on that crossroad. Maybe Parker by bringing Elvis to fame, was trying for a new deal with the Devil.... Elvis in exchange for his own soul.
the download is very well recorded too, highly recommended.