As mentioned in the previous post, Elvis’ close friends, family members and fellow musicians, especially black folks, said that Elvis was “color blind”. Despite the controversy that arose among members of the African American community and many people that have claimed that Elvis “stole black people’s music”, he always gave them credit for the profound effect and inspiration that black music had on him. In fact, he was a fan of black music especially gospel, blues and rhythm and blues. In 1955, he said publicly that “black people had been singing and playing the rhythm and blues just the way he did for many years” and that “if he ever got to the place where he could feel the way Arthur Crudup felt when doing music, he would be a unique, unprecedented musician”.
Arthur Crudup was the author of the song that launched Presley to success, That’s All Right Mama. Elvis had attended Arthur’s concerts and learned from him back in Tupelo Mississippi and a few years later, he altered the tempo of this song, fooling around with his musicians in the studio, rendering a country take on this R&B song a much faster one. This experimentation with crossover styles and tempos actually yielded the first rock or rockabilly song in the history of music.
Ike Turner himself has been interviewed recently and he said that when he used to go and perform in the black part of Memphis, Elvis would attend his concerts and that he was just a white boy that used to attend night clubs exclusive to black people and stand by the piano to watch Ike play. During his 1968 Comeback Special performance, Elvis chose “If I Can Dream”, a song whose lyrics quote Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches, to close the show. Sources claim that when Elvis finished performing the song, the three back up singers were in tears and one of them said of Elvis that “he had never sung anything with so much emotion before”.
On this site, you can find a number of different t-shirts with images related to Elvis, the King.