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"Elvis and the Beatles stole from black music."


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In reply to an earlier post on Aug 17, 2011 6:53:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 17, 2011 6:55:41 PM PDT
Does it really matter why Elvis is called the King? Or Sinatra is called ol blue eyes? He was the chairman too wasn't he? Or James Brown is the Godfather of Soul? Aretha Franklin called Lady Soul? They're given these titles by people who love their music. And does it really matter where inspiration is derived from? The blues guitarists of the 60's and 70's from America and Britain emulated their heroes and tried to educate their listeners as to just where they were getting these great tunes and techniques from. I don't call that theft. Elvis loved gospel music and wanted to sing like the gospel greats, then he added his own style to it and revolutionized music of the 50's. John Lennon saw Elvis on the movie screen and said, "That looks like a good way to make a living," and he revolutionized music of the 60's. Clapton, Beck, Page, Davies and Townsend were inspired by The Beatles and the blues greats of the past, and they made their own niche respectively (okay Page didn't always give credit where it was due). Hendrix blew the doors off of convention and inspired a lot of people, but he was inspired by Terry Kath of Chicago. Inspiration is the thing of innovation, and not theft, which is done out of spite or jealousy. The great ones all love what they do for the sheer joy of making music and no one should be upset about that. If anything upset the black artists of the 50's and 60's it was the fact that white artists were doing the same thing they were, playing their music, and were getting paid so much more to do so. And were filling venues that they weren't even allowed into. And you can't blame them for that. Pat Boone singing Tutti Frutti was a joke. And people like what they like, that is not racism if I prefer Deep Purple over The Four Tops. Racism is hating a cultural group, not preferring one style of music over another.
And you people really need to lay off of the "This post does not add to the discussion." button. If you disagree with something someone says, just explain why you disagree, that button doesn't do anyone any good.

Posted on Aug 17, 2011 7:56:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 17, 2011 7:57:21 PM PDT
D. Mok says:
Race in music is a non-issue until someone -- usually someone who actually does have race issues -- makes it political.

To me, there is no greater tribute to racial harmony to have a white singer perform a black gospel song. Or a black guitarist playing heavy metal but adding black-music influences. Even if the influence isn't acknowledged consciously, so what? Sometimes we don't know that a song taught to us by our mother was written by a black songwriter. I don't need Living Colour to be so touchy about playing metal that they'd have to make sure they mention it's "white people's music" in every conversation. *That* would be true racial oppression. White people don't "own" metal any more than black people "own" blues. Vernon Reid can play shred guitar any time he wants, using any influences and techniques he wants.

"The point is that sexual revolution tends to get in the way of actual revolution, nonsense issues distract attention away from real ones: Pay equity, child care, honest-to-God sexual harassment."
- Ainsley Hayes (Emily Procter), The West Wing

It's the same with race.

Instead of expending energy on whether Elvis Presley was really "The King", how about spending time to help spread awareness of good black musicians? And good white, Asian, Hispanic musicians? I got no problems listening to Queensryche, Funkadelic, Sly and The Family Stone, Laura Nyro, Public Enemy, Santana and Anita Mui all in a row, and I could care less about the colour of their skin.

Posted on Aug 17, 2011 8:36:00 PM PDT
Shawn says:
Hey D.mok, I completely agree with you. We should be spendeing more time focusing on good music, instead of thinking of who did it first. But my point was that, it seems biased when i hear people say elvis' first album in 1956 was the first rock and roll album, when there was plenty of rock before that. It just seems like a slap in the face to all the other pioneers. I like elvis, and if some one wants to call him the king, thats fine also. But when i hear things like before elvis, there was no rock and roll. It just seems like other rock forefathers are being ignored. But at the end of the day, music is music.

Posted on Aug 17, 2011 11:45:20 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 18, 2011 8:45:13 AM PDT
D. Mok says:
> it seems biased when i hear people say elvis' first album in 1956 was the first rock and
> roll album

Well, then, correct them. Not every music fan researches the history, and "Heartbreak Hotel" and "(We're Gonna) Rock around the Clock" are much more popular and well known songs than "Rocket 88". Even classic-rock listeners would be more inclined to credit Chuck Berry than Ike Turner or T-Bone Walker.

If you want racial harmony, don't go in assuming they're being racist. Go in assuming they don't know.

I'm Chinese. When a white or black friend cringes at a dim sum dish made of chicken feet, I assume it's because they're unfamiliar with it (just like I'm unfamiliar with fried insects in Thai food -- the giant water bug is, in fact, supposed to be very tasty), not because they want to judge my culture or heritage. It's human. It's natural. The unfamiliar makes us scared, and lack of knowledge can make us ask annoying questions.

It's not always because of race. Racial tensions don't just come from racism; they don't always come from light-skinned people looking down on dark-skinned people. Racial tensions often come from overly sensitive people who interact with others who are unfamiliar with their culture. They hit back far too prematurely, and they ellicit defensive responses. Now you've got attack and defense, rather than dialogue.

Some people make fun of Americans because a lot of Americans can't find Kazakhstan on a map. Well, it can't hurt for them to learn. But can a Kazakh person identify all the states in New England? Are Europeans really that much better -- can they, say, distinguish the Xiongnu from the Huns? The Uyghur people from Azerbaijani? Without special education, that is?

Americans know American geography because that's what's close and relevant to them. Europeans know European geography, Asians know Asian geography.

I laugh at the debate about the Mercator map vs. the Peters map, because some people argue that placing European countries on top on the map gives those countries superiority. Well, *no*. That, in itself, is a Eurocentric view. China looked down on almost every other nation on earth during its prime, and it did not "place itself on top" in a map. It prided itself as being the "Middle Kingdom" (the literal meaning of "China"), the center of the world.

Posted on Aug 18, 2011 1:42:20 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 18, 2011 1:45:43 AM PDT
ROCK AND ROLL came about from a blending of elements from black blues, white country music, Jewish Tin Pan Alley pop, and folk music of assorted shades. There's as much of Muddy Waters in rock & roll as there is of Hank Williams...or there was, at least at the beginning. These days, you'd have a hard time finding mainstream music fans under 30 -- black OR white -- that know (or even CARE) about the music/legacies of Muddy Waters, Hank Williams, Big Bill Broonzy, and/or Bob Wills. THOSE guys laid the foundation(s) for rock & roll and lots else besides.

Roy Brown was a GREAT R&B singer that sang "Good Rockin' Tonight" BEFORE Elvis Presley did, and one of Brown's favorite singers was BING CROSBY. When Sinatra started, he sounded like Bing...and Bing got his influence from Irish tenors and Louis Armstrong.

It's all music, none of it "pure," some of it great...listen, learn, enjoy.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2011 1:49:11 AM PDT
Incidentally, Fats Domino gave props to Pat Boone for helping to popularize his music. (Fats DID sing it better, ya gotta admit, tho.)

Posted on Aug 18, 2011 2:18:58 AM PDT
Hinch says:
Being influenced by someone is not "stealing".
Covering songs by other artists is not stealing.

Sampling music without permission is stealing.
Recording songs by old blues artists, changing a few of the words and not giving credit to the original artist, is stealing.

Posted on Aug 18, 2011 8:05:40 AM PDT
I'd say borrowed not stolen, but then who hasn't in pop/rock/blues music? I will say that bands like the Beatles, Stones, etc brought a bunch of attention to black american musicians that may have gone unrecognized, due to America's inbreed racial injustices...

Posted on Aug 18, 2011 8:06:44 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 18, 2011 8:41:59 AM PDT
D. Mok says:
> Recording songs by old blues artists, changing a few of the words and not giving
> credit to the original artist, is stealing.

With most music, I wouldn't argue. The problem with blues "songs" is that so many of them are the same I-IV-V progression. Even the melody is often generic. So how do you distinguish a newly written blues "song" in this vein from one that already exists?

Not every song is like that (Jake Holmes' "Dazed and Confused" emphatically does not fall into the category of "generic"). But when you have a musical form as limited as the blues, how do you prevent sounding so much like a pre-existing song? John Lee Hooker even said, "Deep blues got no changes". So how much difference can you really get from one E chord? I've heard many open-mike blues players who are supposedly playing their own compositions, but even their own songs sound the same, like one 45-minute open-tuned drone rather than five ridiculously overlong songs.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2011 10:58:39 AM PDT
There wouldnt be Rock n Roll without the black man and the Blues. Every band from the Beatles to Led Zepplin owes Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters and those old Bluesman.

Posted on Aug 18, 2011 11:07:37 AM PDT
R. Long says:
Blah blah, same old debate. Move along, nothing to see here.

Posted on Aug 18, 2011 11:13:14 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 18, 2011 11:14:21 AM PDT
D. Mok spewed:
>Aside from the fact that Chuck Berry wasn't nearly as popular as >Elvis Presley, nobody ever mentions that Chuck Berry himself worked >hard to betray his black heritage by "trying to sing white" -- one >major reason I don't like his music.

Wow, the above might be the stupidest thing I've ever read on Amazon forums, which really says something. Worked hard to "betray his heritage" by "trying to sing white?" This is about as racist as it gets. I can only guess what you might think of Nat King Cole.

D. Mok also spewed:
>With most music, I wouldn't argue. The problem with blues "songs" is >that so many of them are the same I-IV-V progression. Even the >melody is often generic. So how do you distinguish a newly written >blues "song" in this vein from one that already exists?

This is also pretty stupid. Mok will never mistaken for a musicologist.

Posted on Aug 18, 2011 11:41:09 AM PDT
duke says:
Glenn Miller "borrowed" heavily from Duke Ellington.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2011 11:57:55 AM PDT
R. Long says:
Bobby Rydell was born right here in South Philly as Bobby Ridarelli. I'd say he had just as much right to sing an Italian song as anybody, however he wanted to sing it.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2011 12:19:42 PM PDT
Not really - stylistically there is VERY LITTLE SIMILARITY between Miller's and Ellington's music of the time (I've listened to both, especially Ellington's)...and Miller himself has said his FAVORITE big band was that of Jimmie Lunceford.

Posted on Aug 18, 2011 1:13:36 PM PDT
African musicians were influenced by Cuban music (especially rumba) which developed from the African slaves in Cuba and Spanish music, which was influenced by Moorish and Sephardic music. Pick any variety of music and you get the same sort of history.

Posted on Aug 18, 2011 1:54:31 PM PDT
D. Mok says:
> Wow, the above might be the stupidest thing I've ever read on Amazon forums,
> which really says something. Worked hard to "betray his heritage" by "trying to
> sing white?"

It is well documented that Chuck Berry tried to sing with a "mid-American" accent to appeal to white listeners.

I hate the sound Berry ended up with, but I normally wouldn't consider it "betraying" his heritage. I was making a point: Chuck Berry worked hard to sound less black. Why doesn't he catch this kind of flak (rock is black, blah blah blah) from the black-music purists?

> Mok will never mistaken for a musicologist.

And I won't mistake you for a songwriter. Have you ever written a blues song? Do you actually know enough about composition to see the pitfalls?

Gary Moore's "Still Got the Blues", B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone" and Eric Clapton's "Bad Love" would be examples of bluesy songs that have a clear identity. But if you can't hear the masses of I-IV-V 12-bar songs in the blues world, songs whose structures and harmonic content are practically identical, then you're either musically ignorant or you haven't heard enough blues.

Posted on Aug 18, 2011 2:13:11 PM PDT
MiBoDoCa says:
Neither of them "stole" from Black Music. In Elvis' case he "covered" songs originally recorded by Black artists and actually opened up doors for the original artists that were not open prior. The Beatles started by cutting their teeth on early Rock and Roll and R and B but certainly didn't "steal" as any time they covered a song the original artist was given credit and earned money from their cover. One band that did in fact "steal" some of their music was Led Zeppelin because they didn't give credit to the original artists they lifted their songs from and "robbed" them of potential royalties. That's stealing. (Boogie With Stu and The Lemon Song anyone?)

Posted on Aug 18, 2011 3:47:22 PM PDT
Bart Fargo says:
I'm sure certain artists or groups have "borrowed" from black artists,but Elvis and The Beatles were influenced(as were The Stones and The Animals;among others),never stole,more than anything.All those groups and artists put their own spin on black music(like Zeppelin or whoever)and will continue to do so for as long as there's music.I don't know what you'd call the music these days.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2011 3:48:55 PM PDT
Bart Fargo says:
Those who "steal" are supposedly sampling...

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 18, 2011 4:47:11 PM PDT
I think it was mod-classical big daddy Igor Stravinski ("The Rite of Spring" and other hits) that said, "Mediocre composers borrow, great composers steal."

Posted on Aug 18, 2011 7:29:53 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Feb 12, 2014 5:20:52 PM PST]

Posted on Aug 19, 2011 7:49:04 AM PDT
crater face says:
"Elvis and the Beatles stole from black music."

Anyone know the statute of limitations on this?

Posted on Aug 19, 2011 8:59:54 AM PDT
Moodyblue says:
Elvis Presley"s chart history
http://www.elvisnews.com/news.aspx/elvis-billboard-statistics/13451

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 19, 2011 9:25:08 AM PDT
perfect
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Discussion in:  Music forum
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Initial post:  Aug 17, 2011
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