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Thread: 50's Elvis v.s. other 50's rockers

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    50's Elvis v.s. other 50's rockers

    Hi everyone

    In 1992 Sony BMG released the box set the King of Rock n' roll the essential 50's master, The general consensus is that Elvis created his greatest music and most consistent material during this decade with songs like That's alright, Blue moon of Kentucky, Mystery Train, Heartbreak hotel, Don't be cruel, Hound dog, Jailhouse Rock etc. but how do you think Elvis 50's work compared to the other rock n'' roll pioneers: Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Bill Hailey, Everly Brothers and Ricky Nelson.
    I think they all recorded classic songs during this period but I would put Elvis above them even though he did record some weak material such as Hard headed woman, Wear your ring, my wish came true etc. Chuck Berry, Diddley, Richard, Hailey, The Everly's, Holly, Nelson, Lewis all recorded classic material how would you compare Elvis 50's material against theirs?

    I hope I get a lot of replies for this thread and I hope to get everyone that posts on this board their opinions on this subject.

    I look forward to hearing from everyone on this subject.

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    In my opinion there's no comparison. Elvis just had a better sound and voice. Not to say that I don't like the other music.

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    Down In The Alley shelley.m.'s Avatar
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    Elvis "kicked open" the door for other white performers to follow suit.I like other '50's performers too but Elvis had it all,the looks and the voice!
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    Backstage Pass 1100ccRider's Avatar
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    In my opinion, Elvis stood out far and above his peers. He was something totally different. Forget the whole debate about who exactly 'invented' rock 'n' roll -- the reality is that it as independently arrived at by several different people over rather a few years, none of them operating in a cultural vacuum (in other words, they pretty much shared the same influences). Elvis was not just a prime catalyst for what became rock 'n' roll (and rockabilly, rock-based pop and, especially a bit later on, country rock) but was without question its leading proponent in terms of influence, commercial success, and iconic identification with the genre(s).

    Looking at the list of early rock 'n' roll stars that you provide, I have to say that -- by comparison -- they are pretty much all a lot more 'one note' than Elvis was, even at the beginning of his career arc. Elvis had phenomenally catholic taste in music and in what he recorded, a trait that resulted in some of his greatest triumphs (including the July, 1954 session that started it all) as well as being behind some of his more questionable choices in repertoire. One result was that the melded influences that he absorbed poured out of him in a torrent of highly diverse musical styles as well as entirely new combinations of styles that defied categorization.

    Ray Charles was, I think, the only close comparison to Elvis in this respect (also reflected in his commercial success with diverse and disparate musical forms and having had many major hits on the pop, country, and R&B charts). Actually, Jackie Wilson was another who -- though less successful than either Ray or Elvis -- could do it all, and do it well. His catalog includes such wonders as his soul-stirring '50s and early '60s hits as well as smooth ballads and even Neapolitan turns a la "It's Now Or Never." He also had the energetic performing style and room-filling charisma that Elvis was noted for even by his critics. Elvis was an influence on Jackie and Jackie was an influence on Elvis.

    The other people listed here don't compare to Elvis or Ray in such specifics, as far as I'm concerned. Jerry Lee had fiery rock 'n' roll and a suitably weary sort of less frenetic country approach play equally important parts in his career, for example, but his range was never anywhere close to Elvis' even at its greatest (vocal range, either, for that matter). Chuck Berry has always seemed to me to be highly overrated. Also, he and Johnny Cash are often loudly proclaimed to be the 'real King of Rock 'n' Roll' by iconoclasts who're basically either clueless or just so set on being ironic hipsters that they're blind to reality.

    Elvis' commercial success (and the same is true of the Beatles, to a degree) often plays against him in that a great many people erroneously and somewhat pathetically equate commercial success with lack of artistic worth (not that Elvis or some of these other pioneers didn't, at times, 'sell out' -- Elvis' '60s soundtrack output was basically that, no matter that it did produce some catchy tunes). Those hipper-than-thou putzes reveal either ignorance or revisionist arrogance in dismissing Elvis and promoting even the great Johnny Cash -- an excellent performer and American folk icon but hardly the leader of the pack when it comes to rock 'n' roll -- to the 'King' title that Elvis wears better than any other even if he himself didn't particularly like it.

    As I said, I've always found Chuck Berry to be extremely overrated. I don't discount his influence, and he was an important influence on many of the next generation of pop stars, but he's so one-note that he makes Little Richard look like a wide-ranging musical cornucopia (actually, the irrepressible Mr Penniman did do some quite different kinds of music and it's more his '50s hits that sound somewhat similar to one another). Chuck seems to have one song that he just changes the words to. Well, perhaps that's overstating things, but not by too much. Leave aside that he was and is widely known to be a major league (insert the expletive of your choice), because he'd hardly be alone in that (paging Jerry Lee!) and, to me, that shouldn't really affect how we see the person's music.

    Now, Buddy Holly...he's an interesting case. I'm not terribly up on all of his music but my understanding is that he was starting to innovate quite well in studio recording techniques -- foreshadowing the post-1965 Beatles -- and he did produce songs in a wide variety of styles during his abbreviated career. He could have gone on to even greater things, or he could have just become another on the late '60s 'oldies' circuit, after good old rock 'n' roll came back circa 1968, revered for his hits a decade before but not really a contemporary figure. We'll never know, because he was gone way too soon. And, again, there are those who claim he would have by far eclipsed Elvis. They're martyring Buddy, hardly a suitable memorial, and the effort is futile because not even the Beatles blocked out the light from Elvis' Sun (not to mention that, like the man from Lubbock who switched to rock 'n' roll after seeing Elvis perform, they were to a great extent his musical children -- in fact, Buddy's wide-ranging musical output could be seen as a direct result of Elvis' substantial influence). Buddy Holly could have been very interesting, had he lived, maybe falling somewhere between Rick Nelson and Elvis in terms of public exposure and regard (and critical reception) had he kept up what he started. Rick Nelson, too, recorded songs from a variety of different sources, and it's hard to tease out what part of that was a mirror of the output of his strongest musical influence. Those of us from Commonwealth countries could probably insert Cliff Richard into the above and have it ring true, too.

    Most of Elvis' other peers from the '50s produced great stuff but either experienced little chart success and sort of faded from the view of most of us or just continued to trade on the success of one or two records or produce records that sounded like perpetual remakes of those singles. I mean, Bo Diddley may have been an early influence on many (and, of course, we all know that Elvis 'stole' his entire performing style from Bo) but his best known musical offerings are almost Berry-like in terms of variety, albeit more firmly anchored in the Delta blues (the best kind of blues...accept no imitations). Bill Haley and his lads did their bit to get the whole thing started, too, no question, but they had a bland Midwestern sensibility about them -- in other words, not anchored in the Delta -- and lacked the fire of the southern rockers. There's no way Bill Haley and the Comets could really have stayed on top in a world that had witnessed Elvis. The Everly Brothers were a little later, like Ricky Nelson, and they exemplified the perfect harmonies that would later be heard on records by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and others. Gene Vincent and others from the greasier set -- Carl Perkins, for that matter -- also produced some cool tuneage but, again, their presence on the scene was never as all-encompassing as that of Elvis or certain others.

    Again, all this is just my opinion: I think Elvis stood out in every way from those who began the journey with him. I'd like to think that I can force myself to be somewhat objective here, despite a very obvious bias of many years standing. If I fail to be objective, it's no less a failure than those who view Elvis negatively solely because he was so commercially successful, was so lauded, and was such a huge and pervasive presence on the American (and world) pop-culture landscape. This latter also feeds into the very American tendency to create icons and then gleefully tear them down, that tearing down being what fans of Elvis in the '80s will remember all too well.

    There were a few others with at least some of Elvis' attributes who hit it big -- we may never know of performers along similar lines who never made the big time -- but, musically, from that era I think only Ray Charles and Jackie Wilson come close to Elvis. Elvis could only happen once, but he had to happen.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1100ccRider View Post
    .


    .

    .

    Now, Buddy Holly...he's an interesting case. I'm not terribly up on all of his music but my understanding is that he was starting to innovate quite well in studio recording techniques -- foreshadowing the post-1965 Beatles -- and he did produce songs in a wide variety of styles during his abbreviated career. He could have gone on to even greater things, or he could have just become another on the late '60s 'oldies' circuit, after good old rock 'n' roll came back circa 1968, revered for his hits a decade before but not really a contemporary figure. We'll never know, because he was gone way too soon. And, again, there are those who claim he would have by far eclipsed Elvis. They're martyring Buddy, hardly a suitable memorial, and the effort is futile because not even the Beatles blocked out the light from Elvis' Sun (not to mention that, like the man from Lubbock who switched to rock 'n' roll after seeing Elvis perform, they were to a great extent his musical children -- in fact, Buddy's wide-ranging musical output could be seen as a direct result of Elvis' substantial influence). Buddy Holly could have been very interesting, had he lived, maybe falling somewhere between Rick Nelson and Elvis in terms of public exposure and regard (and critical reception) had he kept up what he started. Rick Nelson, too, recorded songs from a variety of different sources, and it's hard to tease out what part of that was a mirror of the output of his strongest musical influence. Those of us from Commonwealth countries could probably insert Cliff Richard into the above and have it ring true, too.


    I like Buddy Holly and I like some of his songs but his fans who say he would have been bigger than Elvis had he lived are strecthing it a bit.
    Buddy Holly's last singles before he died were having difficulty just hitting the top 40 and everybody talks about what a great songwriter he was but 2 of my favorite songs of his Raining in my heart and It doesn't matter anymore weren't written by him and I also think Chuck Berry was the better songwriter. I think if Buddy Holly didn't die he would have had a few more hits, for example I could see him recording ''I fought the law'' first because it was written by a band member of his Sonny Curtis but he would have faded like all the big stars of the 50's and early 60's when the british invasion began, he would be playing the oldies circuit like all his contempararies with the exception of Elvis and I could see him recording new music like Ricky Nelson that would get some critical acclaim by the critics but his new records wouldn't sell and would go unnoticed by the public.
    I think that's the reason I put Elvis above all the other 50's rockers because when they began to fade and fall by the wayside Elvis continued to have hit records throughout his career and he was able to sell concerts out on his own I keep thinking that if Elvis recorded Garden Party instead of Nelson it would've had a whole different meaning.

    by the way in my original post I forgot to put Fats Domino on my list, What does everybody think of his music?

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    Eddie Cochran was another 50s rocker that deserves to be up there with others mentioned. Something Else and Summertime Blues are up 50s classics.
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    Although Elvis didn't invent rock-n-roll it's what he did with it that was great, he blended it with rhythm and blues, and country, he put his own stamp on it, and the kids of the 50's loved it.
    As for the other artists of the 50's i don't think they fell by the wayside at all, sadly we lost Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Big Bopper, Richie Valence through tragic circumstances, they were great in their day as well, all credit to them.

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    I think the quality of other's rock songs in the '50's was on par with the greatest that Elvis recorded. Songs like Blue Suede Shoes, Great Balls of Fire, Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On, Johnny B Goode, Summertime Blues, That'll Be The Day, etc., etc. are just as high quality as Elvis' best. The difference is, Elvis recorded high quality rock at a far greater volume than any of the others. He just had many more great songs than any of the others.

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    Thumbs up

    Elvis tape-worm everithing,style.voice,image,and charisma"ELVIS IS UNIQUE"!!!!!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by beckelvis View Post
    Elvis tape-worm everithing,style.voice,image,and charisma"ELVIS IS UNIQUE"!!!!!!!!!
    Yep, true. All those 50s rock'n'rollers are important on their own way. They made up 50s as a great period in music history. But Elvis was the best for me...
    Let the stars fade and fall, and I won't care at all, as long as I have you.
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  11. #11
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    Of all of the 1950's artists listed, the only one besides Elvis I listen to (as in collect his music) would be Chuck Berry. Tho, Chuck at times does sound like he knows only 3 chords, it is his simplistic approach to his music i enjoy. Nothing super~fancy, but far ahead of his time for the 1950s style of music. Many have covered his music. Nadine..a very simple "rap" tune..One of my favourites, and I don't listen to todays "slick rap".

    Check out Hail Hail Rock n Roll vhs/dvd, good insight on Chuck.

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    I like all the 50s rockers, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis were very wild and unpredictable, Chuch Berry (along with Johnny Johnson) wrote great songs with great guitar licks which gave fuel to the rock revolution, Fats Domino was a great singer with his own smooth R & B sound, Carl Perkins was a greats writer, singer, guitarist- they all were major in the rock revolution and like Elvis they all had flaws, musically and personally.
    But IMO Elvis's voice was better, (and it developed further with time), his looks, and personality were what sold rock to the kids of the world.
    So IMO he is at the top because he rightly did the most to make it mainstream to the world.

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    Thank's everyone for your opinions on this subject

    I have 3 questions to ask

    1. What do you think of Fats Dominos 50's material?

    2. I've never heard the album (I've heard that it's good) but what do you think of Bo Diddleys 1962 album ''Bo Diddley's a Gunslinger'' v.s. Elvis 1962 album ''Pot Luck?''

    3. On a scale of 1 to 10 how superior do you think Elvis 50's material is compared to the other 50's rockers?

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    The quality and quantity of Elvis' 50's output is unmatched.It's not even close.Even the diversity is outstanding.Rock,xmas and gospel.The guy released classic after classic that transformed music.Other artists recorded fine material as well obviously.It's just that Elvis was hitting nothing but home runs with every release.Nobody comes close to matching his track record during this period.This is why he became "the king".A title well deserved.

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    Elvis imo was untouchable in the 50's concerning his performing, songs ect. Of course Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard made great songs too! But, Elvis was the patent for everyone else to follow!
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    TCB Mafia KPM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian View Post
    Thank's everyone for your opinions on this subject

    I have 3 questions to ask

    1. What do you think of Fats Dominos 50's material?

    2. I've never heard the album (I've heard that it's good) but what do you think of Bo Diddleys 1962 album ''Bo Diddley's a Gunslinger'' v.s. Elvis 1962 album ''Pot Luck?''

    3. On a scale of 1 to 10 how superior do you think Elvis 50's material is compared to the other 50's rockers?
    I love Fats and his music, he is often overlooked when people discuss the 1950s rock.

    I have an original copy of Bo Diddleys debut album but do not have "Gunslinger" I am not much for his sound-IMO it all sounds the same and on the debut album not much variation.

    As far as Elvis's material compared to others of the 50s I give him a 10.
    As Jak said, his material was varied in style- rockabilly, country, out and out rock, gospel, pop, even the movie songs had quality in the 50s.
    Everyone else did great songs and had an impact but Elvis did all he liked and did it better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KPM View Post

    I have an original copy of Bo Diddleys debut album but do not have "Gunslinger" I am not much for his sound-IMO it all sounds the same and on the debut album not much variation.

    .

    someone posted a thread about Bo Diddley on the Fecc forum a couple months back talking about Diddley's past comments about Elvis and he poised the question should Bo Diddley be King of rock instead of Elvis well there were all sort of replies so I decided to chime in saying that while I liked Bo Diddley to me he wasn't as diverse as Elvis and some of the other rock pioneers as to me all his records sound the same imo. A while later I checked the thread and this poster Bc55 started calling me an ignorant person for saying Bo's material sounded the same I tried to be nice by saying that it was just my opinion and that he didn't have to agree with me and that opinions can't be right or wrong but he kept attacking me so I called him a jerk after that he cried like a baby to the moderator for calling him a jerk but it's okay for him to call me ignorant I guess. Anyway it's nice to know that i'm not the only one who thinks Bo Diddley's records sound the same and his material wasn't very varied.

  18. #18
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    Although I love almost all the rock`n`roll from the `50s I think Elvis stands head and shoulders above them all, not just musically...I don`t think the revolution would even have got past the planning stage without the Elvis "attitude" and the level of out and out "Cool" that he brought with him........Leader of the pack!!

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    I like Buddy Holly and I like some of his songs but his fans who say he would have been bigger than Elvis had he lived are strecthing it a bit.
    Buddy Holly's last singles before he died were having difficulty just hitting the top 40 and everybody talks about what a great songwriter he was but 2 of my favorite songs of his Raining in my heart and It doesn't matter anymore weren't written by him and I also think Chuck Berry was the better songwriter.
    I grew up with the "Buddy Holly would have been the biggest thing in rock" theory. I was shocked when I looked up his discography, and saw how little success he was having on the charts when he was killed.

    What was the crack about Elvis - death was a great career move? The same could be said about Buddy Holly, because I don't see any evidence that he wouldn't have wound up in the same position as Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and the rest in the 1960s (overwhelmed by the British invasion).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian View Post
    someone posted a thread about Bo Diddley on the Fecc forum a couple months back talking about Diddley's past comments about Elvis and he poised the question should Bo Diddley be King of rock instead of Elvis well there were all sort of replies so I decided to chime in saying that while I liked Bo Diddley to me he wasn't as diverse as Elvis and some of the other rock pioneers as to me all his records sound the same imo. A while later I checked the thread and this poster Bc55 started calling me an ignorant person for saying Bo's material sounded the same I tried to be nice by saying that it was just my opinion and that he didn't have to agree with me and that opinions can't be right or wrong but he kept attacking me so I called him a jerk after that he cried like a baby to the moderator for calling him a jerk but it's okay for him to call me ignorant I guess. Anyway it's nice to know that i'm not the only one who thinks Bo Diddley's records sound the same and his material wasn't very varied.
    I do think Bo had a style all his own and his "chunka chunka chunka" guitar sound was unique and many have used that sound. Everyone has an opinion the name calling for your opinion is not needed anywhere.

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