Sunday, August 16, 2009

The King is Dead…. Long Live the King – the 32nd Anniversary of Elvis’ Death

On August 16, 1977, Elvis Presley passed away at the young age of 42. Elvis is largely credited with bringing rock n roll to the masses and helping the genre crossover to white audiences. Because Elvis is sometimes remembered only for the drama and idiosyncrasies of his later years, it is easy to forget how unique he was in American music when he first broke on the scene. He wasn’t just a white boy trying to sing black music for the masses; he was a singer with originality and talent from his lip curl to his onstage swagger. As a point of comparison, I have posted two videos of white artists singing a song made famous by a black musician. Watch and listen as both Elvis and Pat Boone sing “Tutti Frutti,” a song by another legendary American musician, Little Richard. When both videos are viewed in concert, it is hard to imagine that anyone could prefer Pat Boone to the King. (I have also included a video of Little Richard’s performance of the song)

Elvis Presley's Version of "Tutti Frutti"

Pat Boone's Version:

Little Richard Video (Showing Original Lyrics):

It’s interesting to note that Pat Boone’s version was released around the same time that Little Richard originally released the song in 1955. Boone’s producers convinced him to record his own version of the song with sanitized lyrics to play on its popularity among white audiences. Boone’s version of the song reached #12 on the charts while Richard’s lagged behind at #17. Elvis Presley released his own version of the song on his debut album in 1956.

[Image via how stuff works]

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