For Discussion: Variety Claims Elvis Presley “Invented” Rock ‘N’ Roll Music But Forgets To Mention Black Artists

- By Bossip Staff
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They spelled “stole” wrong…

Variety Claims Elvis Presley “Invented” Rock ‘N’ Roll Music

According to Variety Editor Cynthia Littleton, Elvis Presley “invented” rock ‘n’ roll. Word??

The ignorant writer must have totally forgot about Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Ike Turner, Bo Diddley and other BLACK artists that pioneered the genre before Whites came along to steal the sound.

Via Variety reports:

Have you heard the news? The explosion of rock ‘n’ roll as a cultural force was ignited 60 years ago this week, on a hot day in Memphis when a truck driver named Elvis Presley was called to a recording session by producer Sam Phillips, the savvy owner of Memphis Recording Studio.

On July 5, 1954, Presley joined guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black at Phillips’ studio in an effort to generate some sides for Phillips’ newly launched Sun Records label. The session resulted, mostly by accident, in the recording of the bluesy “That’s All Right,” among other tunes. The next day they went back to into the studio and recorded a rockabilly-flavored take on the Bill Monroe classic “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

By week’s end, according to Elvis historian Peter Guralnick, Phillips had the recordings in the hands of a few tastemaker Memphis DJs. Once “That’s All Right” hit the airwaves, Elvis was on his way.

But Presley wasn’t exactly an overnight sensation. He’d first gone to Memphis Recording Studio in the summer of 1953 to cut a do-it-yourself record of the ballad “My Happiness,” a hit for the Ink Spots. (Cost: $3.98 plus tax.) Phillips’ secretary, Marion Keisker, was intrigued by his voice and made a note of his name and phone number.

At the July 5, 1954, session, Phillips took another shot on Presley, this time pairing him with Moore and Black. The spark of “That’s All Right,” a variation on a tune Presley knew from Mississippi bluesman Arthur Crudup, came during a break when the three thought they were just goofing around. Phillips finally got what he wanted.

By the end of the month, Presley had incited a frenzy at his first professional concert performance in a Memphis park. Sun Records released more Elvis singles (including “Blue Moon,” “I Forgot to Remember to Forget,” “Baby Let’s Play House” and “Good Rockin’ Tonight”) as his regional hits became national sellers.

Phillips’ vision of Presley as the one who could achieve crossover success by expropriating African-American influences was reinforced by the very first reference to “Elvis Presley” in Variety, which came in the Aug. 24, 1955, weekly edition.

“First act of the group was to list 26 waxings mostly by indie labels, that had bothered Negro leaders as degrading or possibly contributory to juvenile delinquency. Most of the 26 were by Negro artists,” Variety reported.

Variety later added this little blurb after #BlackTwitter went all the way IN on their blatant racism:

Postscript: The word “invented” in the original headline has stirred an angry response from some readers who argue that it diminishes the contributions of many African-American musicians. As the story notes, Presley and Phillips were greatly influenced by a range of musical styles and artists. Crediting a single “inventor” of rock ‘n’ roll is as hard as determining who invented television or the automobile, and the headline on this story was not meant to indicate an absolute in this regard. The July 5, 1954, recording session detailed here marked a turning point in musical history, but in deference to the concerns raised by readers we have adjusted the headline to better reflect the nuance of the story.

#StayWoke folks. Hit the flip to see the #VarietyHeadlines started after the story went viral…

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