"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)


"Absolute id crashed into absolute superego...as the uptightset man in America shook hands with just about the loosest."

(Mark Feeney on the 'Elvis meets Nixon' meeting)


"Elvis is everywhere"

(Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper)


"...especially in the South, they talk about Elvis and Jesus in the same breath"

(Michael Ventura, LA Weekly)


"The image is one thing and the huiman being is another...it's very hard to live up to an image"


(Elvis Presley, Madison Square Garden press conference, 1972)


"Elvis was a major hero of mine. I was actually stupid enough to believe that having the same birthday as him actually meant something"

(David Bowie)


"No-one, but no-one, is his equal, or ever will be. He was, and is supreme"

(Mick Jagger)


"I wasn't just a fan, I was his brother...there'll never be another like that soul brother"

(Soul legend, James Brown)


















































































































































































































































































November 18, 1984

By ROBERT PALMER, The New York Times

Elvis Presley, who was born almost 50 years ago, on Jan. 8, 1935, has long been recognized as one of America's most gifted, distinctive and influential popular singers. He applied his deft, fluid phrasing, derived from blues and gospel music, to songs from the rhythm-and-blues, country, pop and gospel idioms and developed an overtly sensual, largely black-derived performance style. He was the first American popular singer to intuitively understand and creatively exploit the then nascent medium of television, which made him a star almost overnight. In one stroke, he changed the sound, the look and the feel of our popular music. He created a new dimension of celebrity as the first music-and-video-made rock star. Perhaps most important, he bound white and black, urban and rural musical idioms together so tightly that it became impossible to even imagine unraveling them.

But Mr. Presley paid a price for breaking so many barriers and becoming so enormously popular. His manager, Col. Tom Parker, packaged him like toothpaste or soap. The colonel promised an Elvis for everyone and delivered by prevailing upon Mr. Presley to star in a series of vapid, demeaning films and to waste his enormous vocal talent on schmaltz, fluff and sheer atrocities like ''Do the Clam,'' songs that were not even well suited to his vocal range.

RCA, the company that bought Mr. Presley's contract from his discoverer, Sam Phillips of the Sun label in Memphis, tended to follow the colonel's lead by churning out one slapdash album after another, often with a single blues or gospel or rock gem hidden among the dross. When stereo became popular in the early 60's, RCA simply added tinny echo to Mr. Presley's earliest and best albums, and reissued them in fake ''stereo.'' When early treasures, presumed lost, were rediscovered after Mr. Presley's death, they were issued in a typically thoughtless manner, on albums dominated by flawed outtakes, embarrassing interviews and other marginal material of interest only to the most rabid Presley cultists.

But now, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mr. Presley's birth, RCA is redeeming itself with a comprehensive program that includes the re-release of the early Presley singles and albums, pressed on the best vinyl without the fake stereo, and a bounty of previously unreleased performances from Mr. Presley's golden years, roughly 1954-1960.

The man responsible for this project is Gregg Geller, a former CBS executive. At CBS, Mr. Geller signed Elvis Costello and other leading new wave artists and rescued classic rockabilly, rhythm-and-blues, country, jazz and soul music that had been moldering in the company's vaults. When CBS let Mr. Geller go, reportedly as a result of petty office politics, it lost its most creative and farsighted A & R (Artists and Repertory) man. But CBS's loss was RCA's gain.

With the wholehearted support of RCA's president, Robert Summer, Mr. Geller has launched his 50th-anniversary project with an exciting six-record collector's set, ''Elvis Presley - A Golden Celebration,'' featuring Mr. Presley's historic performances on the Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen, Dorsey Brothers and Milton Berle television shows and at a 1956 homecoming for the Mississippi-Albama Fair and Dairy Show. In addition to the audiophile-quality reissues of early albums and singles, there is a new compilation collecting Mr. Presley's most powerful rock 'n' roll performances, titled ''Rocker'' and designed to appeal to a new generation of rock fans, who might like to find out what Presley-mania was all about. Further Presley albums are planned for release in 1985, again in high-quality pressings and in their original monaural or true stereo sound. These ongoing projects are an impressive tribute to an outstanding American popular singer, a tribute that is long overdue.

The singles collections, ''Rocker'' album and quality pressings of early albums are all welcome, but the real news is the six-record boxed set ''Elvis Presley - A Golden Celebration.'' Some Presley fanatics own unofficial, bootleg albums of some of the Ed Sullivan and Dorsey Brothers television appearances, but these are almost impossible to find nowadays, and in any case, the sound quality of the new RCA set is far superior.

Five of the new set's 12 sides are devoted to television performances, with just enough stage patter left in to bring the shows vividly to life. Those who still believe that television censors demanded Mr. Presley be shown only from the waist up will be surprised to learn that this stricture went into effect only for the last of his three Ed Sullivan Show appearance. The earlier Sullivan shows, and all his Dorsey Brothers, Steve Allen and Milton Berle appearances, captured his hip-swiveling gyrations from head to toe.

Mr. Presley's first national television performance, on a variety show whose hosts were the swing-era band leaders Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, makes the furor that followed a bit easier to understand. One can hear Mr. Presley's swagger and his leer - the performance was a seduction, a heavy-breathing come-on for what might well have turned out to be a sleazy one-night stand. By the next show, the music was more up-tempo and kinetic, the sensuality still there but not as overt - apparently, the first show's seduction was a success.

The clash of musical tastes and generations - the older folks still attuned to big-band swing, the teenagers clamoring for the big beat of emerging rock and roll - was dramatized when Mr. Presley first performed ''Heartbreak Hotel'' on television, on the Dorsey Brothers show of Feb. 11, 1956. The Dorseys elected to accompany this one song with their band, which huffed and puffed along behind Mr. Presley's impatient, impulsive drive. The band provided a brassy break, with a trumpet player screaming his head off, that was more garish and tasteless than anything Mr. Presley had come up with. Then, the self-taught country-boy began singing again, but a beat behind, and the band trudged along implacably, a beat ahead of the singer, all the way through to the end. The next time Mr. Presley sang the song, on the Dorseys' March 17 show, there was no orchestral accompaniment.

The remarkable afternoon and evening concerts from the 1956 Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show in Tupelo have never been bootlegged and are this collection's real find. The two shows take up three album sides, and while the afternoon performance is frequently drowned out by the squeals of young girls, the evening show has much better sound and includes some exceptional performances. The band is rocking; Scotty Moore's lead guitar is cutting and concise. ''Don't Be Cruel'' and ''Baby, Let's Play House'' are primal rockabilly, the sound of a rough beast, or at least a cool alley cat, shuffling off to Bethlehem in its blue suede shoes.

The ''Golden Celebration'' set also includes a side of outtakes from Mr. Presley's first recording sessions, at the tiny Sun Records studio in Memphis. There is nothing new here for the collector, but if one has heard only the classic album ''The Sun Sessions,'' these alternative versions of ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon of Kentucky'' will be intriguing. And ''When It Rains, It Really Pours'' is a superb blues ballad, the early Elvis Presley at his best.

The set's selection of fooling- around-at-home performances, discovered in unmarked tape boxes at Graceland, are not very compelling. But the last side, recorded during rehearsals for Mr. Presley's 1968 television special, is another treat, as fine and tough and overflowing with heart and soul as any of Mr. Presley's 50's recordings. Playing an electric guitar rather than his customary acoustic model, which was often little more than a prop, Mr. Presley traded fluid rhythm and lead parts with Scotty Moore, his guitarist since the earliest days in Memphis. Their interplay seems almost telepathic, like the two- guitar magic of the early Rolling Stones. And with Mr. Presley's original drummer, D. J. Fontana, stoking the fires, this music moved , from the ferocious version of Rufus Thomas's Sun blues ''Tiger Man'' to Jimmy Reed blues shuffles to smoldering New Orleans triplet-style blues-ballads like ''Lawdy Miss Clawdy'' and ''One Night.'' This is rock and roll as good as it gets, and a fitting conclusion to the ''Golden Celebration'' set. For once, a major American record company is treating the work of a major rock and roll artist with the respect it deserves.

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Book: Warman's Elvis Field Guide
DVD: Why Elvis?
Book: Dewey and Elvis
CD: Black & White Elvis
CD: All Shook Up
Book: Rough Guide to Elvis
DVD: Elvis by the Presleys
FTD: Rockin' Across Texas
FTD: Elvis Is Back
TV Special: "Elvis by the Presleys"
Book: Elvis by the Presleys
CD: Tom Green
Show: Sonny West
CD: A Legendary Performer Vol. 5
CD: Young & Beautiful (TV Guide)
DVD: Elvis by the Presleys "Target" bonus disc
Mini-series: Elvis
FTD: Big Boss Man
VCD: Joe Esposito's Home Videos of Elvis
Welcome to Gulag Graceland
The King and I
Elvis was a racist? (4)
Elvis was a racist? (3)
Schism between Elvis' stage & studio work
Tupelo, Miss....Elvis 2005
Elvis was a racist? (#2)
Elvis vs. Jerry Lee Lewis
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Elvis making a killing
Elvis & the treasure chest of blood money
Priscilla - "no angel"
Elvis in the 1970s
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"Orion" gunned down!
Elvis Is Back
Elvis - Hero with 1000 faces
Elvis Film Guide
Elvis rules on television! (updated May 2005)
Elvis & other major artists miss out on Grammy Awards
How did Elvis die?
Bernard Lansky
Albert Wertheimer
Priscilla Presley
Marshall Terrill
Lisa Presley on Larry King Show
Tony Joe White
Stanley Oberst
Bud Glass (part 2)
Red & Sonny West
Ed Bonja (Part 2)
Ernst Jorgensen
Phil Aitcheson (Presley Commission)
Elvis On Tour
Graceland cam
Listen to the Elvis "strung out" in Vegas audio
The "Real" Elvis off-stage
Unreleased Elvis audio now online
View EPE Graceland tourism ads
View video of "All Shook Up" opening night on Broadway
All about Elvis
All about Elvis tribute artists
All about Lisa Presley
All about Graceland
Elvis books 2005-07
Elvis film guide
Elvis Online Virtual Library
Elvis Presley Research Forum
Elvis was a racist? (archives)
Elvis Week 2005
Links to Elvis' family & friends
Online Elvis Symposium
Sale of EPE "Archives"
6th Elvis Website Survey
Spotlight on The King
"Wikipedia" Elvis bio


"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"

(Dr. Gary Enders)


" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"



"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"

(humorist Dave Barry)


"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"

(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")


"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"

(Nick Tosches)


"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"

(Carl Perkins)


"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"

(Bob Dylan)


"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"

(Sir Paul McCartney)