Monday, July 5, 2010

That's Alright Mama....It's Only Rock N Roll

This past weekend we’ve all probably had the chance to see some great fireworks…so I thought it would be appropriate to end the holiday weekend by commemorating a sonic firework that exploded onto the radio airwaves in 1954. 
Today in 1954, Elvis Presley recorded “That’s Alright Mama,” which was his first commercial record. It is one of the groundbreaking moments in rock and roll that helped crossover the genre to white audiences. In the segregated south, music, like much of life, was segregated by race. White radio stations played music for white audiences (think Pat Boone) and black stations played music for black audiences. While segregation may have been the order of the day on the radio, many white kids growing up in the south were exposed to black music and were influenced by it. Elvis Presley, a big fan of gospel and rhythm and blues music, was certainly one of them.
Presley helped to cross over rhythm and blues style singing by recording “That’s Alright Mama,” which gained popularity among white audiences. The song was originally written and recorded by Arthur Crudup in 1946. When Elvis’ version of the song was first played on white radio stations in the south, listeners would call in because they couldn’t believe that Presley was a white singer. The song was one of many which would help grow the audience of rhythm and blues music into what was eventually known as rock and roll.  

Here is Presley performing “That’s Alright Mama” during his 1968 comeback special. Enjoy!

[Image via por-img]

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