Results for Elvis Presley

interviews

Peter Guralnick on Sam Phillips & Sun Studios

Samphillipsbook Peter Guralnick has written extensively about American music for decades including a two-part biography on Elvis Presley, the biography Searching for Robert Johnson and an acclaimed trilogy on American roots music. Now he's back with a comprehensive look at Sam Phillips called The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll: How One Man Discoverd Howlin' Wolf, Ike Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley and How His Tiny Label Sun Records of Memphis, Revolutionized the World. If Sam Phillips, Sun Studios or Sun Records are new names to you, Peter wants to take you back to 1950s and 60s for what many historians call the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Sun was home to black and white artists of the era who were merging genres like country, gospel, and R&B in ways unthinkable at the time. And that kind of freedom of spirit and enthusiasm, in addition to the idea that everybody has a song to sing, were the tenants of the Sun sound, even more than sonic hallmarks like "slapback echo."

Go to episode 523

Hal Blaine of The Wrecking Crew

halblainealbum Hal Blaine may not be a household name, but if rock ‘n’ roll is all about the beat, then the 86-year-old drummer is arguably one of the biggest rock stars alive. It's his stamp you hear on some of the biggest records of the 1960's and early '70s. He recorded with Elvis, The Mamas and the Papas, Sam Cooke, Simon & Garfunkel, The Carpenters, Jan and Dean and even Barbra Streisand. That's 38 chart-toppers to be exact, and over 5,000 songs. So if we're comparing successful outputs, that really makes his only rival The Beatles!

Of course the idea of a session musician is something we're familiar with today, but many listeners can probably still remember their own revelation that their favorite acts might not have played their own songs. You expect that of The Monkees, but The Beach Boys? The Byrds? Many of their songs were actually recorded by Hal Blaine and The Wrecking Crew – a loose organization of California studio players whose members included Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, Earl Palmer and more. There was an unspoken pact to keep their hit-making machine a secret, but as time has gone on, they've gotten their due. Hal Blaine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and last month saw the release of The Wrecking Crew, a new documentary directed by Denny Tedesco, son of crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco.

Go to episode 488

Chris Jones

Chris Jones In anticipation of this weekend's Tony Awards, Jim and Greg invite Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones to join them on the show. Jones has been watching the trend of intersecting rock and theater for years, and this year it seems to have come to an apex. All four of the nominees for Best Musical have rock roots: American Idiot, which features music by Green Day, Million Dollar Quartet, which is inspired by the famed recording session featuring Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, Fela!, which is based on the music of African musician Fela Kuti, and Memphis, which tells the story of a rock DJ in Memphis in the 1950s. As Chris Jones explains, much of this trend is the result of economic interests–a new generation of theatergoers raised on rock and roll are now willing to pay big bucks for Broadway shows. He also credits shows like Spring Awakening for helping to bend the old musical rules. To Jim and Greg's surprise, Chris enthusiastically recommends American Idiot and doesn‘t think the band’s fans will be put off.

Go to episode 237
specials

Best Second Acts

Go ahead…"call it a comeback." This week Jim and Greg highlight some of rock and roll's best Second Acts. These artists either fell into obscurity or went down a bad path before reemerging successfully, perhaps better than before. Famous examples include Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Elvis Presley, who told the world he wasn‘t yet down for the count at his ’68 Comeback Special. There's also Santana, whose record Supernatural went 15 times platinum in 1999, decades after his heyday in the late ‘60s. And don’t forget about Cher, who at age 53 had the number one song "Believe." Here are Jim and Greg's favorite "Comeback Kids."

Go to episode 334

The Compact Disc

Rock Doctors

Thirty years ago this month, the team from Phillips developed the technology behind Compact Discs. Since the pressing of the first CD, the music industry has become completely revolutionized. By 1999 CDs brought in 15 billion dollars to record labels. But, that same technology has also lead to the industry's downfall.

To honor, and mourn, the CD in its old age, Jim and Greg each play a song that illustrates what the shiny disc has meant to them. Jim plays a song from the first album he purchased on CD, The Beatles' Revolver. Previously "And Your Bird Can Sing" was only available on the UK release, but after the advent of CDs, Jim was able to have it in the US.

Greg chooses to play "Get It Together," from the James Brown box set Star Time. For him the CD era was an opportunity to get access to music you might not otherwise hear. The labels were curating their back catalog with box sets of early Elvis or Robert Johnson.“Get It Together”was a track Greg searched for for years, and thanks to CDs, he got to hear it again.

Go to episode 172
reviews
The Party Ain't OverThe Party Ain't Over available on iTunes

Wanda Jackson The Party Ain't Over

In the '50s, Wanda Jackson was the "First Lady of Rockabilly" and a girlfriend of Elvis Presley. Today she's partnered up with musician and producer Jack White. White previously collaborated with Loretta Lynn, and now he's again aiming to bring one of his idols into the 21st century. Jim explains that Jackson has still got her signature voice, but everything else about The Party Ain't Over does not work. He disagrees with the song selection and holds White to blame. Jim says Trash It. Greg agrees that this record is a disappointment. He wishes White had just let the singer be herself. The modern touches are too forced. But for one track alone, "Blue Yodel #6", Greg says Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 270
Duets - The Final ChapterDuets: The Final Chapter available on iTunes

Notorious B.I.G. Duets: The Final Chapter

Next up Jim and Greg review the latest album by the Notorious B.I.G. They hesitate to say it is“by him,”however, being that the rapper died in 1997. Despite this fact, his music is still being released, and on this go-around, Duets: The Final Chapter, he was even paired with another deceased music icon. Biggie Smalls is the latest in a long line of musicians to continue to do big business after death. Other artists with posthumous releases and commercially successful legacies include Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix. Biggie's posthumous release is approaching platinum status, but our critics wonder if it really needed to be made. Duets is so chock full of all-star cameo that listeners may wonder who this record is about. For the sheer novelty of it, Duets gets a "Burn It" rating from Jim. For Greg, though, the songs are mediocre and the sentiment insincere. He gives it and the entire posthumous phenomenon a "Trash It."

JimGreg
Go to episode 10
dijs

Greg

“Little Sister”Elvis Presley

Buddy Harman, one of music's great drummers, died this week at the age of 79. Greg explains that Harman was to Nashville what Benny Benjamin was to Detroit or what Hal Blaine was to Los Angeles. He helped define that sound and played on over 18,000 albums. Drumming wasn't even a major part of country music prior to Harman's residency. Just consider what "Pretty Woman" would be without that drum beat. In honor of Harman's passing, Greg chooses to add Elvis Presley's "Little Sister" to the Desert Island Jukebox this week. In addition to proving that Presley still had the chops after his stint in the military, the song showcases Harman's terrific drumming.

Go to episode 144
features

Rock & The Occult

occultcover Ozzy Osbourne famously serenaded "Mr. Crowley," in his 1980 track. But, poet, novelist and noted occultist Alesteir Crowley has been name-checked, celebrated and explored in hundreds of rock songs. And he's just one example of how the occult has influenced rock and roll, or how it saved it, according to author Peter Bebergal. He talks to Jim and Greg about his new book Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll on this Halloween edition of the show. First off, we're not talking about satanism here. There's no great definition of“occult,”because it carries so much baggage. But Bebergal explains that occult beliefs are a conglomerate of bits of mythology, religion and actual experience, which take the form of mystical or other states of altered consciousness. Despite darker connotations, occult beliefs attempt to understand reality in a way traditional religious practice cannot or chooses not to explore.

Then Jim and Greg get into the music. The occult has trickled into popular music since early blues recordings at the beginning of the last century. That evolved into the hoodoo-inspired sounds of Elvis Presley, the mystical references to the east in the music of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and even the Illuminati imagery of modern hip-hop.

For more great occult tunes, check out Peter Bebergal's playlist by following us at Beats Music.

Go to episode 465
news

Music News

A few weeks ago Jim and Greg spoke to Greg LoPiccolo of Harmonix about the music video game phenomenon. Jim and Greg were anxious to get some numbers on The Beatles: Rock Band, but LoPiccolo wasn't budging. Now, the numbers are out. That game sold almost 600,000 copies. Guitar Hero isn't far behind with 500,000 sold. Combined these games boosted video game revenue 72%. It's hard to think of any 2 records that could help the record industry in just one month.

Whether you find them irritating or not, music ringtones in the U.S. account for about 60% of wireless data revenue. This fact has not gone unnoticed by ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Eager to get a piece of this pie, ASCAP pursued Verizon and AT&T and tried to get their artists paid not just once, but twice. Currently these companies pay about 24 cents per ringtone to composers and others for reproduction and distribution rights. It was ASCAP's hope that they might charge not just for ownership, but for the right to“perform.”A judge ruled that ringtones are not performances, and therefore don‘t need a separate royalty license, though there’s something to be said for a ringtone“concert,”which is never crowded and always starts on time.

In other performance royalty news, a British woman has been issued an apology by the Performing Rights Society of the U.K. The PRS told a small town food store it had to get a license to play the radio for customers. When the shop decided to just flip the radio off, employee Sandra Burt, 56, began singing while she worked. The PRS then returned and told Mrs. Burt she too could be prosecuted for not having a performance license. Of course, once word got out that a cheerful shopkeeper was being bullied, the PRS admitted their mistake and sent her a bouquet of flowers.

Elvis Presley memorabilia belonging to friend and fan club president Gary Pepper recently went for more than $300,000 at an auction outside of Chicago. Among the items sold were a red ultrasuede shirt, wedding photos and the“piece”de resistance, a clump of Elvis's hair, which was purchased by a phone bidder for $15,000. But, before the hair can be handed over to its new owner, a lawsuit brought by relatives of Pepper must be resolved.

Go to episode 204

Music News

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently released an official Spotify playlist for her 2016 campaign, featuring the likes of Katy Perry and Ariana Grande. Jim doubts that Clinton made the playlist herself, suggesting that the featured artists are more in tune with the tastes of a young campaign staffer. But President Obama's playlist is more authentic, featuring tracks by The Tempations, The Isley Brothers, and even one of Jim's favorite bands, Low Cut Connie. But this isn‘t to say that Obama’s playlist is flawless – Jim is sorely disappointed by the Coldplay pick.

Speaking of presidential candidates, New Jersey governor Chris Christie recently issued a statement proclaiming his adoration for Bruce Springsteen. The politician writes that the Boss“gave voice to the suburban kids like me who were filled with dreams and doubts. He was one of us.”Christie goes so far as to say "Born to Run is my Desert Island disc." Greg is surprised by the pick, given Christie's preference for Bon Jovi, another New Jersey native. Jim thinks that his home state has quite a lot to be embarrassed about these days.

From time to time Jim and Greg like to sit down and take a look at the Billboard Chart to discuss the country's most popular albums. Country rocker Luke Bryan is at #1 with his new album Kill the Lights, but Jim doesn‘t see what’s so great about this seemingly generic country music. Familiar artists Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift continue to dominate, with the #2 and #7 records, respectively. Greg is happy to see former The Voice contestant Melanie Martinez on the charts, a former member of Jim's favorite artist Adam Levine's team. And let's not forget about the #8 artist, Bullet for my Valentine, a Welsh heavy metal band that Jim and Greg just can't get enough of. But perhaps the most interesting chart topper this week is Elvis Presley, whose retrospective album Elvis Forever is selling big in your local Post Office.

Go to episode 509

Music News

Recently Jim and Greg saw a flurry of stories in the“People Will Buy Anything”department. John Lennon's Gretsch 6120 guitar, which he used to record The Beatles' classic "Paperback Writer," was sold to Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay for $530,000. And that's not the only famous guitar up for purchase: Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick is starting to auction off some pieces from his massive collection of vintage axes. Some of his guitars have reached prices as high as $8,500.

Meanwhile, the secret buyer of Elvis Presley's very first recording has been revealed, and it's none other than Jack White. The Third Man Records honcho paid $300,000 for the 1953 acetate of "My Happiness"/"That's When Your Heartaches Begin" and plans to reissue it on vinyl for Record Store Day.

Those all may sound like worthwhile purchases, if you‘ve got the cash. But the same can’t be said for some other pieces of music memorobilia showing up on the auction block. A plastic bag allegedly full of air from a Kanye West concert reached bids of over $60,000 before eBay shut down the auction. Many copycat listings have followed, including a bag of Ye's flatulence for the bargain price of $5.

Go to episode 486

Music News

For years the record industry has been going after people violating copyright through piracy. But now, lyrics are under fire. The National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) has sent a number of takedown notices to websites who put up song lyrics without permission. Lyrics Mania and Rap Genius are among those targeted.

Colonel Tom Parker knew that Elvis Presley's death wouldn't mean the end of Elvis Presley, Inc. And the big business of death continues with Michael Jackson. Even without the superstar's presence, the Cirque du Soleil production, "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour," recently became the number nine top-grossing tour of all time, earning $325.1 million.

Go to episode 416

Music News

Whitney Houston is just the latest in a series of deceased musicians who have been made into holograms in order to tour around the world. Other famous holograms include Tupac, Buddy Holly, Liberace and Roy Orbison but this isn't anything new for the entertainment industry. For years, images of Elvis Presley and even Frank Sinatra were shown in concerts singing along with a live band and performers. And while the joke is that death is a great career move, Jim finds it interesting that it is no longer an impediment to touring. Who would you like to see as a hologram or do you think the whole thing is just too weird?

Back in 1972, Aretha Franklin recorded one of the great gospel albums of all time, Amazing Grace. In 2012, Jim and Greg even did a Classic Album Dissection on the live record because it was so good and so iconic. Famous director Sydney Pollack (Tootsie, Out of Africa) filmed the concert back in the '70s and now more than 40 years later, two major film festivals were finally supposed to show the movie. However, Aretha took legal action to block the film festivals from presenting it. Apparently she loves the film but Greg suspects this whole thing has something to do with money. This one may drag on, but Greg and Jim really hope that they sort things out because this is a true piece of musical history.

Go to episode 512

Music News

A couple of stories this week speak to the listening habits of kids — and the experts want parents to be worried. The first study, from the NPD Group, says that up to 70% of U.S. kids aged (ages 9-14) download music in a given month. Almost half use iTunes, but the remainder are engaging in (illegal) file-sharing. The research group blames parents for not monitoring their children's computers, but as dads, Jim and Greg can attest — that's a fairly impossible feat in today's world.

The second report, released by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, states that teenagers listen to nearly 2.5 hours of music per day. To Jim and Greg, that's good news. But, what's in those songs you ask? According to the pediatricians, the average adolescent is exposed to approximately 84 references to explicit substance use per day, or 30,732 references per year. That's a large figure, but rock fans have been defending their devil music for years. Jim and Greg think the best defense for protecting innocent minds is discussing music with them. After all, on Sound Opinions everyone's a critic — and that includes kids.

Americans don't have the monopoly on peer-to-peer downloading. In fact, it just got a whole lot easier in Italy. The Italian parliament passed a new copyright law that essentially legalizes file-sharing. But this may not have been their intention. The law creates a provision that allows music files to be shared as long as they are non-commercial and degraded. Well, the not-so-tech-savvy legislators failed to realize that most digital music files are degraded.

NASA is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and to mark the occasion they've decided to beam The Beatles' song "Across the Universe" directly into outer space. This would be the first song ever played“across the universe,”and Jim and Greg wonder if it's smart to start with such a friendly, welcoming song. They think death metal or Barry Manilow might fend off alien invasion better.

The Grammy Awards are also celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. Jim and Greg don't traditionally like to give much airtime to the awards, which notoriously overlook deserving artists, but they thought it would be fun to honor one of their favorite Grammy winners. This is a man whose first album won three awards and shot him to the top of the charts-beating Elvis! That man is none other than Bob Newhart. Bob's first comedy album The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart won Best Album of 1960, Best New Artist and Best Spoken Word. It also went on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time. The curse of the Best New Artist certainly didn‘t seem to affect the successful comedian. We can’t say same about the Starland Vocal Band.

Go to episode 115

Music News

This week saw a major turn of events for the music industry. For almost as long as rock has existed, Elvis Presley has been“The King.”He earned this moniker not just for being worshipped by fans, but also for being the reigning leader in record sales. Well, it looks like the king is about to be overthrown…by Garth Brooks. According to the RIAA, the country star is only 2.5 million copies shy of reaching Elvis‘ record of 118.5 million albums sold. Jim notes that some“fuzzy math”is responsible for this achievement (as is often the case when electing new leaders). Brooks’ recent five-CD boxed set, The Limited Series, has been repackaged and remarketed, and while profits have not been huge, each boxed set actually counts for five separate sales. So at that rate, Brooks (and Gaines?) is sure to catch up to our original down-home legend. Greg is concerned that come Armageddon, when we are judged not by our sins, but by our music purchases, we will all face a very dark fate.

Residents of the Sydney suburb Rockdale face no less dark a fate. It was recently announced that for the next six months, the music of Barry Manilow will be blasted throughout the streets in order to curb the bad behavior of the local riff-raff. The city council hopes that this "daggy" music will send the young "hoons," who enjoy cruising the streets and blasting their own "doof" music, back home where they belong. The idea has been tried before down under with the the un-cool croonings of Bing Crosby. But Jim and Greg have their own ideas of musical torture. Jim thinks that the relentless cacophony of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, would send citizens running. And for Greg, it's simple—he only needs to hear the opening violin riff in "Ants Marching" by the Dave Matthews Band, and he's gone.

Soul singer and keyboardist Billy Preston passed away this week at the age of 59. Preston is best known as "The Fifth Beatle," because of the recording credit he received for performing "Get Back" with the band. But, as Jim and Greg explain, this title overshadowed his other contributions to music. Preston had his own hits with "Will It Go Round in Circles" and "Nothing From Nothing", and he co-wrote Joe Cocker's chart-topper, "You Are So Beautiful." He also recorded with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Sly & the Family Stone, and earned the distinction of being the first musical guest invited to appear on Saturday Night Live. Greg will particularly remember Preston's pioneering use of the synthesizer in songs like "Outa Space."

Go to episode 28

Music News

The copyright infringement lawsuit over Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" now has a resolution. As we've previously covered, the trust of Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe sued Zep, alleging that“Stairway”plagiarized the 1968 track "Taurus." A California jury didn't hear enough similarity between the songs and decided in favor of Led Zeppelin. And as we wind on down the road from the decision, intellectual property attorney Jeffrey Brown tells us this probably won't change the legal standard for copyright infringement. Even when the plaintiffs win – like in the "Blurred Lines" trial – the legal fees are too high to be worth it for anyone but the wealthiest of artists. These cases will continue to be primarily worked out in backroom deals.

Go to episode 553

Music News

Major labels made a bit of news this week, and allowed Jim and Greg to justify their use of the“brontosaurus hurdling toward the tar pit”metaphor. So what is driving this particular dinosaur into extinction? According to our hosts, it's technology. Universal Music appeared to recognize this hurdle this week when they announced that they were cutting costs of some of their online music in Europe. So if you want to buy something from their catalog as a digital file, rather than as a physical CD, you'll only have to pay around $10. Seems reasonable to us here in the States. The CEO of EMI Music reiterated this idea in a statement to the London School of Economics. He said,“The CD as it is right now is dead.”A bit of an overstatement perhaps, but it's entirely possible that the market will split between iTunes listeners and die hard collectors (who want vinyl). In the meantime, EMI consumers can expect more content packaged with their old-fashioned audio CD.

One artist who hasn't been hurt by extinction is Kurt Cobain. Forbes named him the number-one-earning dead celebrity, even ahead of The King, Elvis Presley. Cobain's estate earned over $50 million this year alone, mostly due to the sale of Nirvana's song catalog to Primary Wave Publishing. Fans have widow Courtney Love to thank for that.

Sound Opinions always loves when Bono is in the news (which is usually every day). This time, though, it's more U2's music than the man himself. Apparently 150 Episcopal churches across the nation have adopted a new service entitled the U2charist, which blends the band's songs with the traditional Eucharist. The service kicks off with a rendition of "Pride," and also includes a collection for Bono's campaign to eradicate extreme poverty and global AIDS. Of course rock + religion is nothing new. Al Green and Solomon Burke infuse their pop music into religious ceremonies with great success. But the real question is how Bono measures up to Mase.

Go to episode 49

Music News

We're going to be honest. Deaths in the musical world are a mixed bag. On one hand, you're sad about the loss of a great figure and sad for their friends and family. But on the other hand, sometimes it takes a loss to make you stop and reconsider that person's contributions. This week Jim and Greg look back at two wonderful songwriters that died on Monday: Jerry Leiber and Nick Ashford. Leiber is best known as one half of the duo Leiber & Stoller. Ashford, too, was in a duo with his wife Valerie Simpson. Leiber wrote lyrics for a number of hits in the 1950's and 1960's including "Stand By Me" and "Hound Dog," though not originally for Elvis. Ashford & Simpson penned the tunes "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Let's Go Get Stoned," and their own hit "Solid." Greg particularly likes the song "California Soul" by Marlena Shaw.

Go to episode 300

Music News

Move over Elvis, there's a new king in town and that king…is a cowboy. Garth Brooks once again surpassed Elvis Presley as the best-selling solo artist of all time in the U.S., selling 135 million units. Brooks is thoroughly beating his competition, as the number two country artist on the list is George Strait at only 69 million units. While Garth reigns supreme in the solo category, The Beatles are the best-selling music act with 178 million units.

In other news, Universal Music Group filed a lawsuit against two companies that distribute mixtapes to individuals in prisons claiming licensing infringement. The defendants argued that their efforts were to prevent contraband within prisons, however it looks like they could be spending more time fighting the law than their consumers.

The punk band Stereofire Empire found a missing painting in the New Orleans House of Blues that was worth $250,000. One member of the group was an art collector and recognized the stolen item. While they returned it (ala the Scooby Doo gang), the culprit is still at large. rodrigue

Go to episode 477