How Did Elvis Get Turned Into a Racist?

How Did Elvis Get Turned Into a Racist?

There are 1247 comments on the Free Republic story from Aug 10, 2007, titled How Did Elvis Get Turned Into a Racist?. In it, Free Republic reports that:

“You've never walked in that man's shoes/Or saw things through his eyes/Or stood and watched with helpless hands/While the heart inside you dies.”

Posted on 08/10/2007 10:25:20 PM PDT by LdSentinal ONE of the songs Elvis Presley liked to perform in the '70s was Joe South's "Walk a Mile in My Shoes," its message clearly spelled out in the title. via Free Republic

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“There Is One Truth! Jesus!”

Since: Jan 09

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#1347 Nov 28, 2012
Anyone who wants to know more information about Elvis and his feelings about black performers should read the following:

You will find that Elvis clearly was not a racist and he was not shy when it came to gladly giving due credit to black performers for their influence. This Wiki analysis of Presley actually gives him credit for helping open the door for black entertainers. I suggest reading "African American music influence" because it discusses Elvis in context of the race issues as well. I think it's an interesting read.
Jim Burrows

Managua, Nicaragua

#1348 Nov 29, 2012
For starters, the young Elvis Presley ( the one who gallivanted around Tupelo, MS until 1948 and then to Memphis, TN, from that year onwards), was the closest one can get to being in close proximity with noted members of the African American music community without actually being one.

No other white American, say in the period from 1945 (when he was 10), to 1955 (when he turned 20) was able to draw from what transpired around him, learn, and immediately make it an integral part of his persona as Elvis did.

Moreover, contemplate, if you must, the following proposition. There may have been white Americans in Chicago, say, the children of white musicians who worked with African American greats, or there may have been numerous drummers and guitar players-to-be, all white, cleaning bars in New Orleans, Savanna, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, you name it, whose family ties or proximity to African Americans musicians may have been similar to what happened to the young Elvis Presley.

Even if this is so, if they were other white americand in his position, I repeat, that of being close to African american musicians, then why has none of them ever surfaced, their stories that is.

Moreover, even if this is so, then Presley's ability to draw feom them is even more remarkable, he being theorethically, in this case, the only White American with a talent so vast as to being the only one, of numeorous others, who was able to get to the heart of the matter.
Jim Burrows

Managua, Nicaragua

#1349 Nov 29, 2012
Finally, I am inclined to believe that the legend, created for whatever reasons, that he was the only one who was at the right time, in the right place to draw from the vastest of musical fields available to any white man, to draw from the blues, misses one important point, rather two. One was Presley's ear, the other his innate musical talent.

Windeyer, Australia

#1350 Nov 29, 2012
Kadafi Kanati wrote:
<quoted text>Bullshit!!!!!! people like Chuck Berry and little Richard made R&B what it is today!Elvis was popular with the white audience and before you gimme that garbage about "race card!" let me just say that alot of groups that were black never made it because of racial tension back then if you came out with a song some producer liked, it was either stolen or you were bought out because they figured a white man could sing it and sell it better than a minority in that particular era.I could careless about who he took pictures with, who's style did he study before some producer saw that he could sing like a black man and just like any other white man wanted to take credit for it!!? Mary is Mary because she's Mary Elvis didn't make nobody somebody made him!!.You and Elvis fans should be thanking us!
Thanking us? You all should be kissing Elvis's arse for putting food on the tables for the singers that would do anything for Elvis to sing one of their songs they wrote.
You know dam well songs were not stolen back then, it was a different world of music, the term rocknroll wasnt heard of & hardly any rules.
Black singers & black men & women idolised Elvis so you are very wrong, you segregate his fans by saying only whites liked him,Ha!
Elvis & black music go hand in hand, Ill tell you why, Elvis was virtually black.
You do realise Elvis didnt live in a white picket fenced house in the white suberbs of Tupelo & Memphis dont you? he was raised with black boys, lived & breathed with them in tupelo,the only segregation was school.
In the early fifties singers werent racist towards each other & no one used the term stole! when selling & collecting royalties.
Its people today that have turned it racist, which is itself racist & very backward thinking.

United States

#1352 Nov 30, 2012
Kadafi Kanati wrote:
<quoted text>It's cowards like you that always hide behind computer screens where no one can see you!You wouldn't dare tell me or any other person who respected this man and many like him what you just said in your post,Coward.LOL> Oh and just by looking at where you're from Troy NY it's not hard to tell who you are!
Early in Elvis’ recording career it was of course his respect & understanding of local black music & culture that made him & Sam Phillips such kindred spirits. Although obviously rare for that era & the Southern States region, both had beliefs in black culture & the equality of man. Sam Phillips said, "The lack of prejudice on the part of Elvis Presley had to be one of the biggest things that could have happened to us."

Throughout the years Elvis always showed his appreciation for his black musical roots. In his 1954 Sun Studio’s ‘Million Dollar’ jam Elvis spoke about his admiration of singer Jackie Wilson who Elvis believed had outdone him with a better version of ‘Don’t Be Cruel’. Elvis latter acknowledged Wilson’s style & footwork when he filmed ‘Return To Sender’ for the film ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’.

When Jackie Wilson had a stroke in 1975 leaving him unable to perform and hospitalised, Elvis covered a large proportion of Wilson’s medical bills.

(Right, Elvis with Jackie Wilson)

A lot of people have accused Elvis of stealing the black man’s music, when in fact, almost every black solo entertainer copied his stage mannerisms from Elvis." - Jackie Wilson.

Memphis Mafia member Sonny West noted, "Elvis loved Billy Ward, Billy Daniels, Billy Eckstine, The Inkspots. Elvis loved all of them. He took something from all of them and it all came together in his voice at different times. Jackie Wilson was rhythm and blues. Elvis would tell you that the influence of gospel singing and rhythm and blues helped form his style of singing."

In 1956 Elvis appeared on the WDIA black radio station’s annual fund-raiser for "needy Negro children" at Memphis’ Ellis Auditorium. Elvis performed alongside some of his own heroes, Ray Charles, B.B King & Rufus Thomas. There was no doubt that Elvis was seen as a champion in the black Memphis community & his concert audiences were certainly not all white as is often believed. The Pittsburgh Courier described the reaction that night as, "A thousand black, brown and beige teen-age girls in the audience blended their alto & soprano voices in one wild crescendo of sound that rent the rafters... and took off like scalded cats in the direction of Elvis Presley."*

"Describe Elvis Presley? He was the greatest who ever was, is, or will ever be." - Chuck Berry.

After Elvis' death James Brown released a heartfelt tribute to his friend Elvis, his version of 'Love Me Tender'. It was originally released as the A-side of 'Have A Happy Day' in March 1978 and also as B-side of subsequent single, "The Spank" in July 1978.
In the emotional spoken intro James Brown notes, "I want to talk about a good friend I had for a long time and a man I still love - Brother Elvis Presley. You know if he was here right now, I am sure he would say the same thing for me. I loved the man and he was truly the King of Rock and Roll. We've always had kind of a toss-up between Elvis and I - "The King of Rock And Roll" and "The King of Soul". So I want to say this to the people - for Elvis, and myself'.. Love Me Tender..".

"Elvis had an influence on everybody with his musical approach. He broke the ice for all of us." – Al Green.

I have a respect for Elvis and my friendship. It ain’t my business what he did in private. The only thing I want to know is,‘Was he my friend?’,‘Did I enjoy him as a performer?’,‘Did he give the world of entertainment something?’- and the answer is YES on all accounts. The other jazz just don’t matter." – Sammy Davis Jnr.

United States

#1353 Nov 30, 2012
Elvis was my close personal friend. He came to my Deer Lake training camp about two years before he died. He told us he didn't want nobody to bother us. He wanted peace and quiet and I gave him a cabin in my camp and nobody even knew it. When the cameras started watching me train, he was up on the hill sleeping in the cabin. Elvis had a robe made for me. I don't admire nobody, but Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you'd want to know." - Muhammad Ali.

I strongly believe that if Elvis Presley was alive today a contemporary album which looked back and acknowledged his Gospel and Blues roots would be one of his best & most impassioned releases in years - But one can only dream.

Some people like to make out that Elvis was racist in some ways. Is the story true that on a Texan Tour the promoters didn't want Elvis working with black backing singers and Elvis made the stand saying, "No Sweets, No Elvis"?

Myrna Smith -"That's what we heard. And the promoter's daughter was made to drive us in an open convertible to the stage! So that promoter never defied Elvis again! In fact I don't think that we never worked with him again anyway. I know that no matter what colour I was Elvis would have loved me the same. As far as he treated me, there was not racial bone in his body. I mean in the early days he even sneaked into those black gospel churches in Memphis which would have taken a lot of nerve. White boys just wouldn't go there, it was a brave thing to do but he was just determined."

Elvis and I are the only true American originals. I love him and hope to see him in heaven. There'll never be another like that soul brother." - James Brown.(1933 -2006) R.I.P.

Can anyone maintain, with a straight face, that Presley could have made and kept friendships with proud 'blacks' such as Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, and James 'Say-It-Loud-I'm-Black-I'm-Pro ud' Brown - all who have all confirmed their close relationship and admiration for him? And Second. That much of it has to do with the history (and current presence) of racism in America and the lack of credit 'blacks' get for our genuine contributions to the country, and the world beyond, simply because we are 'black.

Presley's passion for the underdog was undeniable and legendary. When Elvis called Nancy Sinatra (at 3 AM) who wanted to congratulate him on the night that his daughter, Lisa Marie, was born she was surprised to hear him so glum after receiving such great news. When she Said to him, "You seem so sad." and asked him, "What could possibly make You so 'blue' on such an occasion as this?", Elvis said, "I AM sad. I was just thinking of all the other babies and poor children in the world who have been born tonight. especially the BLACK ONES, who have nothing to start with, who won't have the chances that my daughter will, and I'm wondering what their future will be - ESPECIALLY THE BLACK ONES" [pg. 148 'Frank Sinatra: My Father' by Nancy Sinatra]

Considering this it is not surprising that Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ was a favourite rhetorical speech that Elvis had memorised and would often repeat over the years. Elvis was extremely shocked when on April 4th 1968 Martin Luther King was assassinated in his own hometown. The compassion Elvis felt would lead to the inspired performance that Elvis used in his own ‘If I Can Dream’ as the closing number of his ‘Comeback Special.’ The Colonel unwisely would have preferred a Christmas song!

The black struggles following Martin Luther King’s assassination created strong racial boundaries especially in Memphis and the South. Politically and racially 1969 was a very sensitive period. However Elvis had always felt strongly about social injustice (as shown by his private donations to charities) and there is no doubt that his recording of ‘In The Ghetto’ was Elvis’ way of saying which side he sympathised for.

Even the late Joe Tex recorded "Heartbreak Hotel!"
King Elvis

Greystanes, Australia

#1354 Nov 30, 2012
Elvis was my close personal friend. He came to my Deer Lake training camp about two years before he died. He told us he didn't want nobody to bother us. He wanted peace and quiet and I gave him a cabin in my camp and nobody even knew it. When the cameras started watching me train, he was up on the hill sleeping in the cabin. Elvis had a robe made for me. I don't admire nobody, but Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you'd want to know." - Muhammad Ali.
Sorry, Dennis, but Ali's story about the training camp is complete BS.

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