"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)






Tops? Elvis is rock bottom

by Tim Luckhurst, The Times, England

ELVIS PRESLEY’S Jailhouse Rock will shortly compete for the honour of becoming Britain’s 1,000th No 1 single. Given the adoration Elvis enjoys, the likelihood of the 1957 hit achieving this musical milestone is depressingly high.

But, despite prayers of support from the First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine, and unconvincing impersonators everywhere, there is time to stop it. Fans of quality rock music must try. Elvis Presley is not the King. Neither is he the pure embodiment of rock‘n’roll that misty-eyed fanatics perceive.

Presley was a “chav” before the term was invented and he continues to appeal to people of similar vacuity. Affection for his music is among the clearest indications of bad taste, almost as clear as the furry dice and “Elvisly Yours” stickers that appear in enthusiasts’ rear windscreens. Britain has produced better musicians in every decade since Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records, foisted Elvis on the world.

For the nation that spawned the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Clash and the Smiths to reward this preening, drug-addicted interpreter of others’ work would take self-loathing too far.

Granted, Elvis possessed a great voice and his early singles bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and the American mass market. But he did not write those songs, nor did he ever have anything significant to say. His lyrics have all the literary merit of chainstore greetings cards. Most of his melodies were penned by musicians who could play and arrange with a finesse that he never acquired.

He contributed less than nothing to the rich subculture generated by rock. Even the surly, rebellious persona that made him popular with repressed 1950s teenagers was a synthetic pose adopted for nakedly commercial reasons. Like his fans, Presley was of very limited intellect and cannot be held responsible for the exploitation of his image.

The cleverest thing he did was to die. It allowed his record company to depict him as he had looked before he became a blancmange.

Now, with rereleases of his hits looming to mark the 70th anniversary of his birth, Britain has a chance to put him in context. American giants such as Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa merit our affection.

If he had started singing after John Lennon, Presley would not even merit a place on I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!












Latest Reviews
CD: Christmas Peace
Book: The Memphis Lullaby
DVD: '68 Comeback Special
DVD: Elvis In Concert (3 hour version)
DVD: This Is Elvis
FTD: One Night In Vegas
CD: Movin' Mobile
CD: Fort Baxter's Greatest Hits
Book: The Tupelo-Memphis Murders
Latest Articles
Elvis Fans - The Following
Redefining Elvis
How Great Thou Art
How did Elvis die?
Elvis Film Bio
500 million fans can't be wrong?
Does Elvis matter?
All about Lisa Presley
Why can't Elvis compete on DVD charts?
Latest Interviews
Red & Sonny West
Paul Simpson
Ed Bonja (Part 2)
Ernst Jorgensen
Phil Aitcheson (Presley Commission)
Did you miss?
Online Elvis Symposium
Exclusive excerpts from "The King Is Dead"
All about Graceland
FTD review- Elvis: New Year's Eve
FTD review: The Impossible Dream
DVD Review: Elvis Presley The Last 24 Hours
Book Review: Pieces of My Life


Elvis Odd Spot (updated 16 Dec 2004)