One might think that calling a performer “underrated” for whom 84,000 people have list their profession as “Elvis Impersonator” on tax returns is a crazy statement. Yet, with the upcoming Elvis movie (June 24), he will still not be regarded as the remarkable vocalist he was before he left us.
The idea of calling him “underrated” might immediately be rejected because his career was overwhelmingly successful. But that career never totally veered from the moment he burst on to the scene with his September 9, 1956, tamed-down, hip-swiveling performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. As a rock ‘n’ roller, he was never considered a vocalist especially compared to the era’s greats, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Tony Bennett.
Elvis was a victim of his own success. From the time of his first recordings at Sun Records he changed the face of the music business. Sam Phillips was seeking a white singer who could capture the essence of the black artists he had been recording. When Elvis broke out into a revved-up version of an old blues classic, That’s All Right Mama, Phillips knew he had his man and… Read More