News createt: 21-12-2010
Elvis inductee - Gibson Revolutionary Hall of Fame
Revolutionary Hall of Fame: Elvis Presley
Gibson.com is pleased to present the inaugural class of the Gibson Revolutionary Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors musical artists whose contributions went beyond mere entertainment and actually altered the art form, the business or the technology of popular music. This year’s inductees were chosen in a recent poll on Gibson.com, asking fans and pros to decide the Top 50 Most Revolutionary Artists of the Past 100 Years. The list of inductees is composed of the top five vote recipients from the readers poll, as well as the top five from the overall combined poll of fans and professionals. As there was some overlap between the lists, a total of seven artists have been honored. Today we celebrate one such honoree: Elvis Presley.
Anyone who’s ever said, “Elvis Presley had no right to sing the blues,” has no idea who he was or where he came from.
Born in a shotgun shack in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935, with a stillborn twin the family named Jesse, Elvis Aaron Presley grew up in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck, on a good week. His father Vernon worked odd jobs when he could get them, but the Presleys still sometimes required help from the government and from their neighbors — particularly in 1938, when Vernon was jailed for passing a bad check and the family lost their modest home.
I mention all of this to give you a little background about this guy who “stole” blues and R&B music. You have to understand: the blues was all he had. When he entered the sixth grade at a new school in his predominantly African American neighborhood, he dragged his cheap little guitar to class nearly every day and — to paraphrase one of his later hits — his hunger burned.
Presley didn’t only grow up with rhythm and blues music. He was also raised with a healthy diet of gospel, courtesy of his mother Gladys. And there was always some old country music in the air, as well: Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb and the like. All of these musical seeds took root in young Elvis and grew into something…something new.
Now Presley wasn’t the only one to marry blues, rhythm and blues, gospel and country, but he was certainly in that first wave – with Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis and the rest. The thing Elvis brought to the table — which was evident when he launched into Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right, Mama” on that fateful night in Sam Phillips’ Sun Studios in 1954 — was an electric charisma and a voice. Man, that voice. Elvis Presley had that one-in-a-million, billion-dollar voice that could find equal shelter in a Sunday school choir or the dirtiest juke joint on Beale Street. Phillips saw (and heard) it — and fostered it. Put a killer band behind Elvis and let him be himself. Let him sing whatever song he wanted, no matter what side of the tracks it came from or what polite radio might think of it.
And once Elvis hit the airwaves, that was it. You say you want a revolution? Elvis Presley fired through the radios and televisions of America like a speedball of bourbon and Spanish fly. While other rock and roll pioneers — legends in their own right, for sure — knocked at the door, Elvis kicked it in. If rock and roll had seemed to the general public like a polite and groomed Bill Haley just a few months before, now it had a pulsating beast leading the charge. And there was no turning back.
Who knows what rock would have been if it wasn’t for Elvis Presley. Maybe Chuck Berry and Little Richard could have broken through on talent alone. God knows they had plenty of it. But it’s very difficult to say whether it would have won such a complete and overarching victory over American — and world — culture. After Elvis it was, quite simply, a different planet.
Hail to the King