Michael Jackson Elvis Presley Silver Coin Old Music Signed Americana Las Vegas • EUR 7,04 (2024)

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Venditore: lasvegasormonaco ✉️ (3.571) 99.6%, Luogo in cui si trova l'oggetto: Manchester, Take a look at my other items, GB, Spedizione verso: WORLDWIDE, Numero oggetto: 266817008601 Michael Jackson Elvis Presley Silver Coin Old Music Signed Americana Las Vegas. Michael Jackson & Elvis The Kings of Music Coin Silver & Gold Plated Commemorative Coin The coin you will receive would not have been removed from its capsule The front has the image of MJ from "This is it" it also has his autograph, trademark and the words "Micheal Jackson" & "King of Pop" The other side is like a Vinyl Record In the middle is an image of Elvis Presley with the words "Elvis Presley" & "King of Rock and Roll". It also has his autograph The coin you will receive will come in air-tight acrylic coin holder which it has never been removed from The coin is 40mm in diameter, weighs about 1 oz In Excellent Condition Like all my Auctions...Bidding Starts at One Penny!!!! Would make an Excellent Stocking Filler at Christmas! A Beautiful coin and Magnificent Keepsake Souvenir of two Legends Click Here to Check out my other Music Items! Bid with Confidence - Check My 100% Positive Feedback from over 2,000 Satisfied Customers I have over 10 years of Ebay Selling Experience - So Why Not Treat Yourself? I have got married recently and need to raise funds to meet the costs also we are planning to move into a house together I always combined postage on multiple items All Payment Methods in All Major Currencies Accepted. All Items Sent out within 24 hours of Receiving Payment. 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Tianjin, Kuala Lumpur, Toronto, Milan, Shenyang, Dallas, Fort Worth, Boston, Belo Horizonte, Khartoum, Riyadh, Singapore, Washington, Detroit, Barcelona,, Houston, Athens, Berlin, Sydney, Atlanta, Guadalajara, San Francisco, Oakland, Montreal, Monterey, Melbourne, Ankara, Recife, Phoenix/Mesa, Durban, Porto Alegre, Dalian, Jeddah, Seattle, Cape Town, San Diego, Fortaleza, Curitiba, Rome, Naples, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Tel Aviv, Birmingham, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Manchester, San Juan, Katowice, Tashkent, f*ckuoka, Baku, Sumqayit, St. Louis, Baltimore, Sapporo, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Taichung, Warsaw, Denver, Cologne, Bonn, Hamburg, Dubai, Pretoria, Vancouver, Beirut, Budapest, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Campinas, Harare, Brasilia, Kuwait, Munich, Portland, Brussels, Vienna, San Jose, Damman , Copenhagen, Brisbane, Riverside, San Bernardino, Cincinnati and Accra 1 Elvis Presley Article Talk Read View source View history Tools Featured article Page semi-protected From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia For other uses, see Elvis Presley (disambiguation). "Elvis" and "King of Rock and Roll" redirect here. For other uses, see Elvis (disambiguation) and King of Rock and Roll (disambiguation). This article may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. Please consider splitting content into sub-articles, condensing it, or adding subheadings. Please discuss this issue on the article's talk page. (June 2023) Elvis Presley Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock (1957) Presley in a publicity photograph for the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock Born Elvis Aaron Presley[a] January 8, 1935 Tupelo, Mississippi, U.S. Died August 16, 1977 (aged 42) Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. Cause of death Cardiac arrest Resting place Graceland, Memphis 35°2′46″N 90°1′23″W Occupations Singer actor Works Albums singles songs recorded Sun label film and television Spouse Priscilla Presley (m. 1967; div. 1973) Children Lisa Marie Presley Relatives Riley Keough (granddaughter) Brandon Presley (second cousin) Awards Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986) Presidential Medal of Freedom (2018) Musical career Genres Rock and roll pop rockabilly country gospel R&B blues Instruments Vocals guitar piano Years active 1953–1977 Labels Sun RCA Victor HMV Allied Artists Music Group Military service[1] Branch United States Army Years of service 1958–1960 Rank Sergeant Unit Headquarters Company, 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32d Armor, 3d Armored Division Awards Good Conduct Medal Signature Elvis Aaron Presley[a] (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977), often referred to mononymously as Elvis, was an American singer and actor. Known as the "King of Rock and Roll", he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century. Presley's energized interpretations of songs and sexually provocative performance style, combined with a singularly potent mix of influences across color lines during a transformative era in race relations, led him to both great success and initial controversy. Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, with his family when he was aged 13. His music career began there in 1954, recording at Sun Records with producer Sam Phillips, who wanted to bring the sound of African-American music to a wider audience. Presley, on rhythm acoustic guitar, and accompanied by lead guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, was a pioneer of rockabilly, an uptempo, backbeat-driven fusion of country music and rhythm and blues. In 1955, drummer D. J. Fontana joined to complete the lineup of Presley's classic quartet and RCA Victor acquired his contract in a deal arranged by Colonel Tom Parker, who would manage him for more than two decades. Presley's first RCA single, "Heartbreak Hotel", was released in January 1956 and became a number-one hit in the United States. Within a year, RCA would sell ten million Presley singles. With a series of successful network television appearances and chart-topping records, Presley became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll; though his performative style and promotion of the then-marginalized sound of African Americans[6] led to him being widely considered a threat to the moral well-being of white American youth.[7] In November 1956, Presley made his film debut in Love Me Tender. Drafted into military service in 1958, he relaunched his recording career two years later with some of his most commercially successful work. Presley held few concerts, however, and guided by Parker, proceeded to devote much of the 1960s to making Hollywood films and soundtrack albums, most of them critically derided. Some of his most famous films included Jailhouse Rock (1957), Blue Hawaii (1961), and Viva Las Vegas (1964). In 1968, following a seven-year break from live performances, he returned to the stage in the acclaimed television comeback special Elvis, which led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of highly profitable tours. In 1973, Presley gave the first concert by a solo artist to be broadcast around the world, Aloha from Hawaii. However, years of prescription drug abuse and unhealthy eating habits severely compromised his health, and Presley died suddenly in 1977 at his Graceland estate at the age of 42. Having sold roughly 500 million records worldwide, Presley is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He was commercially successful in many genres, including pop, country, rhythm & blues, adult contemporary, and gospel. He won three Grammy Awards, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36, and has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame. He also holds several records, including the most RIAA-certified gold and platinum albums, the most albums charted on the Billboard 200, the most number-one albums by a solo artist on the UK Albums Chart, and the most number-one singles by any act on the UK Singles Chart. In 2018, Presley was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Life and career 1935–1953: early years Childhood in Tupelo Present-day photograph of a whitewashed house, about 15 feet wide. Four banistered steps in the foreground lead up to a roofed porch that holds a swing wide enough for two. The front of the house has a door and a single-paned window. The visible side of the house, about 30 feet long, has double-paned windows. Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi Elvis Aaron Presley was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, to Vernon Presley and Gladys Love (née Smith) Presley in a two-room shotgun house that his father built for the occasion.[8] Elvis' identical twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley, was delivered stillborn thirty-five minutes before him.[9] Presley became close to both parents and formed an especially close bond with his mother. The family attended an Assembly of God church, where he found his initial musical inspiration.[10] A photo of Elvis's parents at the Historic Blue Moon Museum in Verona, Mississippi Presley's father was of Irish,[11] German,[12] Scottish, and English origins,[13] and a descendant of the Harrison family of Virginia.[8] Presley's mother Gladys was Scots-Irish with some Norman French ancestry.[14] She and the rest of the family believed that her great-great-grandmother, Morning Dove White, was Cherokee.[15][16][17] This belief was restated by Elvis's granddaughter Riley Keough in 2017.[18] Elaine Dundy, in her biography, supports the belief.[19] Vernon moved from one odd job to the next, showing little ambition.[20][21] The family often relied on help from neighbors and government food assistance. In 1938 they lost their home after Vernon was found guilty of altering a check. He was jailed for eight months while Gladys and Elvis moved in with relatives.[10] In September 1941, Presley entered first grade at East Tupelo Consolidated, where his teachers regarded him as "average".[22] He was encouraged to enter a singing contest after impressing his schoolteacher with a rendition of Red Foley's country song "Old Shep" during morning prayers. The contest, held at the Mississippi–Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on October 3, 1945, was his first public performance. The ten-year-old Presley stood on a chair to reach the microphone and sang "Old Shep". He recalled placing fifth.[23] A few months later, Presley received his first guitar for his birthday; he had hoped for something else—by different accounts, either a bicycle or a rifle.[24][25] Over the following year, he received basic guitar lessons from two of his uncles and a pastor at the family's church. Presley recalled, "I took the guitar, and I watched people, and I learned to play a little bit. But I would never sing in public. I was very shy about it."[26] In September 1946, Presley entered a new school, Milam, for sixth grade; he was regarded as a loner. The following year, he began bringing his guitar to school. He played and sang during lunchtime and was often teased as a "trashy" kid who played hillbilly music.[27] Presley was a devotee of Mississippi Slim's show on the Tupelo radio station WELO. He was described as "crazy about music" by Slim's younger brother, who was one of Presley's classmates and often took him into the station. Slim supplemented Presley's guitar instruction by demonstrating chord techniques.[28] When his protégé was aged 12, Slim scheduled him for two on-air performances. Presley was overcome by stage fright the first time but performed the following week.[29] Teenage life in Memphis In November 1948, the family moved to Memphis, Tennessee. After residing for nearly a year in rooming houses, they were granted a two-bedroom apartment in the public housing complex known as the Lauderdale Courts.[30] Enrolled at L. C. Humes High School, Presley received only a C in music in eighth grade. When his music teacher told him that he had no aptitude for singing, he brought in his guitar the next day and sang a recent hit, "Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers Off Me", to prove otherwise. A classmate later recalled that the teacher "agreed that Elvis was right when he said that she didn't appreciate his kind of singing".[31] He was usually too shy to perform openly and was occasionally bullied by classmates who viewed him as a "mama's boy".[32] In 1950, Presley began practicing guitar regularly under the tutelage of Lee Denson, a neighbor. They and three other boys—including two future rockabilly pioneers, brothers Dorsey and Johnny Burnette—formed a loose musical collective that played frequently around the Courts.[33] That September, Presley began working as an usher at Loew's State Theater.[34] Other jobs followed at Precision Tool, another stint at Loew's, and MARL Metal Products.[35] During his junior year, Presley began to stand out more among his classmates, largely because of his appearance: he grew his sideburns and styled his hair with rose oil and Vaseline. In his free time, he would head down to Beale Street, the heart of Memphis' thriving blues scene, and gaze longingly at the wild, flashy clothes in the windows of Lansky Brothers. By his senior year, he was wearing those clothes.[36] Overcoming his reticence about performing outside the Courts, he competed in Humes' Annual "Minstrel" Show in April 1953. Singing and playing guitar, he opened with "Till I Waltz Again with You", a recent hit for Teresa Brewer. Presley recalled that the performance did much for his reputation: I wasn't popular in school ... I failed music—only thing I ever failed. And then they entered me in this talent show ... when I came onstage, I heard people kind of rumbling and whispering and so forth, 'cause nobody knew I even sang. It was amazing how popular I became in school after that.[37] Presley, who received no formal music training and could not read music, studied and played by ear. He also visited record stores that provided jukeboxes and listening booths to customers. He knew all of Hank Snow's songs,[38] and he loved records by other country singers such as Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Ted Daffan, Jimmie Rodgers, Jimmie Davis, and Bob Wills.[39] The Southern gospel singer Jake Hess, one of his favorite performers, was a significant influence on his ballad-singing style.[40][41] Presley was a regular audience member at the monthly All-Night Singings downtown, where many of the white gospel groups that performed reflected the influence of African American spiritual music.[42] He adored the music of black gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe.[39] Presley listened to regional radio stations, such as WDIA, that played what were then called "race records": spirituals, blues, and the modern, backbeat-heavy sound of rhythm and blues.[43] Like some of his peers, he may have attended blues venues only on nights designated for exclusively white audiences—a necessity in the segregated South.[44] Many of his future recordings were inspired by local African-American musicians such as Arthur Crudup and Rufus Thomas.[45][46] B.B. King recalled that he had known Presley before he was popular when they both used to frequent Beale Street.[47] By the time he graduated from high school in June 1953, Presley had already singled out music as his future.[48][49] 1953–1956: first recordings Sam Phillips and Sun Records See also: List of songs recorded by Elvis Presley on the Sun label Elvis in a tuxedo Presley in a Sun Records promotional photograph, 1954 In August 1953, Presley checked into the offices of Memphis Recording Service, the company run by Sam Phillips before he started Sun Records. He aimed to pay for a few minutes of studio time to record a two-sided acetate disc: "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". He later claimed that he intended the record as a birthday gift for his mother, or that he was merely interested in what he "sounded like", although there was a much cheaper, amateur record-making service at a nearby general store. Biographer Peter Guralnick argued that Presley chose Sun in the hope of being discovered. Asked by receptionist Marion Keisker what kind of singer he was, Presley responded, "I sing all kinds." When she pressed him on who he sounded like, he repeatedly answered, "I don't sound like nobody." After he recorded, Phillips asked Keisker to note down the young man's name, which she did along with her own commentary: "Good ballad singer. Hold."[50] In January 1954, Presley cut a second acetate at Sun—"I'll Never Stand in Your Way" and "It Wouldn't Be the Same Without You"—but again nothing came of it.[51] Not long after, he failed an audition for a local vocal quartet, the Songfellows, explaining to his father, "They told me I couldn't sing."[52] Songfellow Jim Hamill later claimed that he was turned down because he did not demonstrate an ear for harmony at the time.[53] In April, Presley began working for the Crown Electric company as a truck driver.[54] His friend Ronnie Smith, after playing a few local gigs with him, suggested he contact Eddie Bond, leader of Smith's professional band, which had an opening for a vocalist. Bond rejected him after a tryout, advising Presley to stick to truck driving "because you're never going to make it as a singer".[55] Phillips, meanwhile, was always on the lookout for someone who could bring to a broader audience the sound of the black musicians on whom Sun focused. As Keisker reported, "Over and over I remember Sam saying, 'If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars.'"[56] In June, he acquired a demo recording by Jimmy Sweeney of a ballad, "Without You", that he thought might suit Presley. The teenaged singer came by the studio but was unable to do it justice. Despite this, Phillips asked Presley to sing as many numbers as he knew. He was sufficiently affected by what he heard to invite two local musicians, guitarist Winfield "Scotty" Moore and upright bass player Bill Black, to work something up with Presley for a recording session.[57] "That's All Right" 0:17 Presley transformed not only the sound but the emotion of the song, turning what had been written as a "lament for a lost love into a satisfied declaration of independence."[58] Problems playing this file? See media help. The session, held the evening of July 5, proved entirely unfruitful until late in the night. As they were about to abort and go home, Presley took his guitar and launched into a 1946 blues number, Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right". Moore recalled, "All of a sudden, Elvis just started singing this song, jumping around and acting the fool, and then Bill picked up his bass, and he started acting the fool, too, and I started playing with them. Sam, I think, had the door to the control booth open ... he stuck his head out and said, 'What are you doing?' And we said, 'We don't know.' 'Well, back up,' he said, 'try to find a place to start, and do it again.'" Phillips quickly began taping; this was the sound he had been looking for.[59] Three days later, popular Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips (no relation to Sam Phillips) played "That's All Right" on his Red, Hot, and Blue show.[60] Listeners began phoning in, eager to find out who the singer was. The interest was such that Phillips played the record repeatedly during the remaining two hours of his show. Interviewing Presley on-air, Phillips asked him what high school he attended to clarify his color for the many callers who had assumed that he was black.[61] During the next few days, the trio recorded a bluegrass song, Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky", again in a distinctive style and employing a jury-rigged echo effect that Sam Phillips dubbed "slapback". A single was pressed with "That's All Right" on the A-side and "Blue Moon of Kentucky" on the reverse.[62] Early live performances and RCA Victor contract The trio played publicly for the first time at the Bon Air club on July 17, 1954—Presley still sporting his child-size guitar.[63] At the end of the month, they appeared at the Overton Park Shell, with Slim Whitman headlining. Here Elvis pioneered 'Rubber Legs', his signature style dance movement that he is best known for.[64][65] A combination of his strong response to rhythm and nervousness at playing before a large crowd led Presley to shake his legs as he performed: his wide-cut pants emphasized his movements, causing young women in the audience to start screaming.[66] Moore recalled, "During the instrumental parts, he would back off from the mike and be playing and shaking, and the crowd would just go wild".[67] Black, a natural showman, whooped and rode his bass, hitting double licks that Presley would later remember as "really a wild sound, like a jungle drum or something".[67] Soon after, Moore and Black left their old band, the Starlite Wranglers, to play with Presley regularly, and disc jockey/promoter Bob Neal became the trio's manager. From August through October, they played frequently at the Eagle's Nest club, a dance venue on the second floor of the Clearpool recreation complex in Memphis. When Presley played his fifteen-minute sets, teenagers rushed from the pool to fill the club, then left again as the house western swing band resumed.[68] Presley quickly grew more confident on stage. According to Moore, "His movement was a natural thing, but he was also very conscious of what got a reaction. He'd do something one time and then he would expand on it real quick."[69] Amid these live performances, Presley returned to Sun studio for more recording sessions.[70] Presley made what would be his only appearance on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry on October 2; after a polite audience response, Opry manager Jim Denny told Phillips that his singer was "not bad" but did not suit the program.[71][72] Louisiana Hayride, radio commercial, and first television performances In November 1954, Presley performed on Louisiana Hayride—the Opry's chief, and more adventurous, rival. The Shreveport-based show was broadcast to 198 radio stations in 28 states. Presley had another attack of nerves during the first set, which drew a muted reaction. A more composed and energetic second set inspired an enthusiastic response.[73] House drummer D. J. Fontana brought a new element, complementing Presley's movements with accented beats that he had mastered playing in strip clubs.[74] Soon after the show, the Hayride engaged Presley for a year's worth of Saturday-night appearances. Trading in his old guitar for $8 (and seeing it promptly dispatched to the garbage), he purchased a Martin instrument for $175 (equivalent to $1,900 in 2022) and his trio began playing in new locales, including Houston, Texas, and Texarkana, Arkansas.[75] Many fledgling performers, like Minnie Pearl, Johnny Horton, and Johnny Cash, sang the praises of Louisiana Hayride sponsor Southern Maid Donuts, including Presley, who developed a lifelong love of donuts.[76] Presley made his singular product endorsem*nt commercial for the donut company, which was never released, recording a radio jingle "in exchange for a box of hot glazed doughnuts".[77][78] Presley made his first television appearance on the KSLA-TV television broadcast of Louisiana Hayride. Soon after, he failed an audition for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts on the CBS television network. By early 1955, Presley's regular Hayride appearances, constant touring, and well-received record releases had made him a regional star, from Tennessee to West Texas.[79][80] In January, Neal signed a formal management contract with Presley and brought him to the attention of Colonel Tom Parker, whom he considered the best promoter in the music business. Parker, born in the Netherlands, had immigrated illegally to the U.S. and claimed to be from West Virginia; he had acquired an honorary colonel's commission from the Louisiana governor and country singer Jimmie Davis. Having successfully managed the top country star Eddy Arnold, Parker was working with the new number-one country singer, Hank Snow. Parker booked Presley on Snow's February tour.[79][80] When the tour reached Odessa, Texas, a 19-year-old Roy Orbison saw Presley for the first time: "His energy was incredible, his instinct was just amazing. ... I just didn't know what to make of it. There was just no reference point in the culture to compare it."[38] By August, Sun had released ten sides credited to "Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill"; on the latest recordings, the trio were joined by a drummer. Some of the songs, like "That's All Right", were in what one Memphis journalist described as the "R&B idiom of negro field jazz"; others, like "Blue Moon of Kentucky", were "more in the country field", "but there was a curious blending of the two different musics in both".[81] This blend of styles made it difficult for Presley's music to find radio airplay. According to Neal, many country-music disc jockeys would not play it because Presley sounded too much like a black artist and none of the R&B stations would touch him because "he sounded too much like a hillbilly."[82] The blend came to be known as "rockabilly". At the time, Presley was variously billed as "The King of Western Bop", "The Hillbilly Cat", and "The Memphis Flash".[83] Presley renewed Neal's management contract in August 1955, simultaneously appointing Parker as his special adviser.[84] The group maintained an extensive touring schedule throughout the second half of the year.[85] Neal recalled, "It was almost frightening, the reaction that came to Elvis from the teenaged boys. So many of them, through some sort of jealousy, would practically hate him. There were occasions in some towns in Texas when we'd have to be sure to have a police guard because somebody'd always try to take a crack at him. They'd get a gang and try to waylay him or something."[86] The trio became a quartet when Hayride drummer Fontana joined as a full member. In mid-October, they played a few shows in support of Bill Haley, whose "Rock Around the Clock" track had been a number-one hit the previous year. Haley observed that Presley had a natural feel for rhythm, and advised him to sing fewer ballads.[87] At the Country Disc Jockey Convention in early November, Presley was voted the year's most promising male artist.[88] Several record companies had by now shown interest in signing him. After three major labels made offers of up to $25,000, Parker and Phillips struck a deal with RCA Victor on November 21 to acquire Presley's Sun contract for an unprecedented $40,000.[89][b] Presley, now aged 20, was legally still a minor, so his father signed the contract.[90] Parker arranged with the owners of Hill & Range Publishing, Jean and Julian Aberbach, to create two entities, Elvis Presley Music and Gladys Music, to handle all the new material recorded by Presley. Songwriters were obliged to forgo one-third of their customary royalties in exchange for having Presley perform their compositions.[91][c] By December, RCA had begun to heavily promote its new singer, and before month's end had reissued many of his Sun recordings.[94] 1956–1958: commercial breakout and controversy First national TV appearances and debut album Billboard magazine advertisem*nt, March 10, 1956 On January 10, 1956, Presley made his first recordings for RCA in Nashville.[95] Extending his by-now customary backup of Moore, Black, Fontana, and Hayride pianist Floyd Cramer—who had been performing at live club dates with Presley—RCA enlisted guitarist Chet Atkins and three background singers, including Gordon Stoker of the popular Jordanaires quartet, to fill in the sound.[96] The session produced the moody, unusual "Heartbreak Hotel", released as a single on January 27.[95] Parker finally brought Presley to national television, booking him on CBS's Stage Show for six appearances over two months. The program, produced in New York City, was hosted on alternate weeks by big band leaders and brothers Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. After his first appearance, on January 28, Presley stayed in town to record at RCA Victor's New York studio. The sessions yielded eight songs, including a cover of Carl Perkins' rockabilly anthem "Blue Suede Shoes". In February, Presley's "I Forgot to Remember to Forget", a Sun recording initially released the previous August, reached the top of the Billboard country chart.[97] Neal's contract was terminated, and, on March 2, Parker became Presley's manager.[98] RCA released Presley's self-titled debut album on March 23. Joined by five previously unreleased Sun recordings, its seven recently recorded tracks were of a broad variety. There were two country songs and a bouncy pop tune. The others would centrally define the evolving sound of rock and roll: "Blue Suede Shoes"—"an improvement over Perkins' in almost every way", according to critic Robert Hilburn—and three R&B numbers that had been part of Presley's stage repertoire for some time, covers of Little Richard, Ray Charles, and The Drifters. As described by Hilburn, these "were the most revealing of all. Unlike many white artists ... who watered down the gritty edges of the original R&B versions of songs in the '50s, Presley reshaped them. He not only injected the tunes with his own vocal character but also made guitar, not piano, the lead instrument in all three cases."[99] It became the first rock and roll album to top the Billboard chart, a position it held for ten weeks.[95] While Presley was not an innovative guitarist like Moore or contemporary African American rockers Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, cultural historian Gilbert B. Rodman argued that the album's cover image, "of Elvis having the time of his life on stage with a guitar in his hands played a crucial role in positioning the guitar ... as the instrument that best captured the style and spirit of this new music."[100] Milton Berle Show and "Hound Dog" Presley signing autographs in Minneapolis in 1956 On April 3, Presley made the first of two appearances on NBC's The Milton Berle Show. His performance, on the deck of the USS Hanco*ck in San Diego, California, prompted cheers and screams from an audience of sailors and their dates.[101] A few days later, a flight taking Presley and his band to Nashville for a recording session left all three badly shaken when an engine died and the plane almost went down over Arkansas.[102] Twelve weeks after its original release, "Heartbreak Hotel" became Presley's first number-one pop hit. In late April he began a two-week residency at the New Frontier Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.[103] The shows were poorly received by the conservative, middle-aged hotel guests—"like a jug of corn liquor at a champagne party", wrote a critic for Newsweek.[104] Amid his Vegas tenure, Presley, who had serious acting ambitions, signed a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures.[105] He began a tour of the Midwest in mid-May, taking in fifteen cities in as many days.[106] He had attended several shows by Freddie Bell and the Bellboys in Vegas and was struck by their cover of "Hound Dog", a hit in 1953 for blues singer Big Mama Thornton by songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It became the new closing number of his act.[107] After a show in La Crosse, Wisconsin, an urgent message on the letterhead of the local Catholic diocese's newspaper was sent to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. It warned that "Presley is a definite danger to the security of the United States. ... [His] actions and motions were such as to rouse the sexual passions of teenaged youth. ... After the show, more than 1,000 teenagers tried to gang into Presley's room at the auditorium. ... Indications of the harm Presley did just in La Crosse were the two high school girls ... whose abdomen and thigh had Presley's autograph."[108] Presley's second Milton Berle Show appearance came on June 5 at NBC's Hollywood studio, amid another hectic tour. Milton Berle persuaded Presley to leave his guitar backstage, advising, "Let 'em see you, son."[109] During the performance, Presley abruptly halted an uptempo rendition of "Hound Dog" with a wave of his arm and launched into a slow, grinding version accentuated with energetic, exaggerated body movements.[109] His gyrations created a storm of controversy.[110] Television critics were outraged: Jack Gould of The New York Times wrote, "Mr. Presley has no discernible singing ability. ... His phrasing, if it can be called that, consists of the stereotyped variations that go with a beginner's aria in a bathtub. ... His one specialty is an accented movement of the body ... primarily identified with the repertoire of the blond bombshells of the burlesque runway."[111] Ben Gross of the New York Daily News opined that popular music "has reached its lowest depths in the 'grunt and groin' antics of one Elvis Presley. ... Elvis, who rotates his pelvis ... gave an exhibition that was suggestive and vulgar, tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos".[112] Ed Sullivan, whose own variety show was the nation's most popular, declared Presley "unfit for family viewing".[113] To Presley's displeasure, he soon found himself being referred to as "Elvis the Pelvis", which he called "one of the most childish expressions I ever heard, comin' from an adult".[114] Steve Allen Show and first Sullivan appearance Photo of Elvis and Ed Sullivan Ed Sullivan and Presley during rehearsals for his second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, October 26, 1956 The Berle shows drew such high ratings that Presley was booked for a July 1 appearance on NBC's The Steve Allen Show in New York. Allen, no fan of rock and roll, introduced a "new Elvis" in a white bow tie and black tails. Presley sang "Hound Dog" for less than a minute to a basset hound wearing a top hat and bow tie. As described by television historian Jake Austen, "Allen thought Presley was talentless and absurd ... [he] set things up so that Presley would show his contrition".[115] Allen later wrote that he found Presley's "strange, gangly, country-boy charisma, his hard-to-define cuteness, and his charming eccentricity intriguing" and simply worked him into the customary "comedy fabric" of his program.[116] Just before the final rehearsal for the show, Presley told a reporter, "I'm holding down on this show. I don't want to do anything to make people dislike me. I think TV is important so I'm going to go along, but I won't be able to give the kind of show I do in a personal appearance."[117] Presley would refer back to the Allen show as the most ridiculous performance of his career.[118] Later that night, he appeared on Hy Gardner Calling, a popular local television show. Pressed on whether he had learned anything from the criticism to which he was being subjected, Presley responded, "No, I haven't, I don't feel like I'm doing anything wrong. ... I don't see how any type of music would have any bad influence on people when it's only music. ... I mean, how would rock 'n' roll music make anyone rebel against their parents?"[112] The next day, Presley recorded "Hound Dog", along with "Any Way You Want Me" and "Don't Be Cruel". The Jordanaires sang harmony, as they had on The Steve Allen Show; they would work with Presley through the 1960s. A few days later, Presley made an outdoor concert appearance in Memphis, at which he announced, "You know, those people in New York are not gonna change me none. I'm gonna show you what the real Elvis is like tonight."[119] In August, a judge in Jacksonville, Florida, ordered Presley to tame his act. Throughout the following performance, he largely kept still, except for wiggling his little finger suggestively in mockery of the order.[120] The single pairing "Don't Be Cruel" with "Hound Dog" ruled the top of the charts for eleven weeks—a mark that would not be surpassed for thirty-six years.[121] Recording sessions for Presley's second album took place in Hollywood during the first week of September. Leiber and Stoller, the writers of "Hound Dog", contributed "Love Me".[122] Allen's show with Presley had, for the first time, beaten CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show in the ratings. Sullivan, despite his June pronouncement, booked Presley for three appearances for an unprecedented $50,000.[123] The first, on September 9, 1956, was seen by approximately 60 million viewers—a record 82.6 percent of the television audience.[124] Actor Charles Laughton hosted the show, filling in while Sullivan was recovering from a car accident.[113] Presley appeared in two segments that night from CBS Television City in Los Angeles. According to legend, Presley was shot only from the waist up. Watching clips of the Allen and Berle shows with his producer, Sullivan had opined that Presley "got some kind of device hanging down below the crotch of his pants—so when he moves his legs back and forth you can see the outline of his co*ck. ... I think it's a co*ke bottle. ... We just can't have this on a Sunday night. This is a family show!"[125] Sullivan publicly told TV Guide, "As for his gyrations, the whole thing can be controlled with camera shots."[123] In fact, Presley was shown head-to-toe in the first and second shows. Though the camerawork was relatively discreet during his debut, with leg-concealing closeups when he danced, the studio audience reacted in customary style: screaming.[126][127] Presley's performance of his forthcoming single, the ballad "Love Me Tender", prompted a record-shattering million advance orders.[128] More than any other single event, it was this first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show that made Presley a national celebrity of barely precedented proportions.[113] Accompanying Presley's rise to fame, a cultural shift was taking place that he both helped inspire and came to symbolize. The historian Marty Jezer wrote that Presley began the "biggest pop craze" since Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra and brought rock and roll to mainstream culture: "As Presley set the artistic pace, other artists followed. ... Presley, more than anyone else, gave the young a belief in themselves as a distinct and somehow unified generation—the first in America ever to feel the power of an integrated youth culture."[129] Crazed crowds and film debut Elvis performing on stage Presley performing live at the Mississippi-Alabama Fairgrounds in Tupelo, September 26, 1956 "We're gonna do a sad song ..." 0:30 Presley's definition of rock and roll included a sense of humor—here, during his second Sullivan appearance, he introduces one of his signature numbers. Problems playing this file? See media help. The audience response at Presley's live shows became increasingly fevered. Moore recalled, "He'd start out, 'You ain't nothin' but a Hound Dog,' and they'd just go to pieces. They'd always react the same way. There'd be a riot every time."[130] At the two concerts he performed in September at the Mississippi–Alabama Fair and Dairy Show, fifty National Guardsmen were added to the police detail to ensure that the crowd would not cause a ruckus.[131] Elvis, Presley's second RCA album, was released in October and quickly rose to number one on the billboard. The album includes "Old Shep", which he sang at the talent show in 1945, and which now marked the first time he played piano on an RCA session. According to Guralnick, one can hear "in the halting chords and the somewhat stumbling rhythm both the unmistakable emotion and the equally unmistakable valuing of emotion over technique."[132] Assessing the musical and cultural impact of Presley's recordings from "That's All Right" through Elvis, rock critic Dave Marsh wrote that "these records, more than any others, contain the seeds of what rock & roll was, has been and most likely what it may foreseeably become."[133] Presley returned to The Ed Sullivan Show at its main studio in New York, hosted this time by its namesake, on October 28. After the performance, crowds in Nashville and St. Louis burned him in effigy.[113] His first motion picture, Love Me Tender, was released on November 21. Though he was not top-billed, the film's original title—The Reno Brothers—was changed to capitalize on his latest number-one record: "Love Me Tender" had hit the top of the charts earlier that month. To further take advantage of Presley's popularity, four musical numbers were added to what was originally a straight acting role. The film was panned by critics but did very well at the box office.[105] Presley would receive top billing on every subsequent film he made.[134] On December 4, Presley dropped into Sun Records, where Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis were recording, and had an impromptu jam session along with Johnny Cash. Though Phillips no longer had the right to release any Presley material, he made sure that the session was captured on tape. The results, none officially released for twenty-five years, became known as the "Million Dollar Quartet" recordings.[135] The year ended with a front-page story in The Wall Street Journal reporting that Presley merchandise had brought in $22 million on top of his record sales,[136] and Billboard's declaration that he had placed more songs in the top 100 than any other artist since records were first charted.[137] In his first full year at RCA Victor, then the record industry's largest company, Presley had accounted for over fifty percent of the label's singles sales.[128] Leiber and Stoller collaboration and draft notice Presley made his third and final Ed Sullivan Show appearance on January 6, 1957—on this occasion indeed shot only down to the waist. Some commentators have claimed that Parker orchestrated an appearance of censorship to generate publicity.[127][138] In any event, as critic Greil Marcus describes, Presley "did not tie himself down. Leaving behind the bland clothes he had worn on the first two shows, he stepped out in the outlandish costume of a pasha, if not a harem girl. From the make-up over his eyes, the hair falling in his face, the overwhelmingly sexual cast of his mouth, he was playing Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik, with all stops out."[113] To close, displaying his range and defying Sullivan's wishes, Presley sang a gentle black spiritual, "Peace in the Valley". At the end of the show, Sullivan declared Presley "a real decent, fine boy".[139] Two days later, the Memphis draft board announced that Presley would be classified 1-A and would probably be drafted sometime that year.[140] Each of the three Presley singles released in the first half of 1957 went to number one: "Too Much", "All Shook Up", and "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear". Already an international star, he was attracting fans even where his music was not officially released. Under the headline "Presley Records a Craze in Soviet", The New York Times reported that pressings of his music on discarded X-ray plates were commanding high prices in Leningrad.[141] Between film shoots and recording sessions, Presley purchased an 18-room mansion, Graceland, on March 19, 1957, for the amount of $102,500. The mansion, which was about 9 miles (14 km) south of downtown Memphis,[142] was for himself and his parents.[143][144] Before the purchase, Elvis recorded Loving You—the soundtrack to his second film, which was released in July. It was his third straight number-one album. The title track was written by Leiber and Stoller, who were then retained to write four of the six songs recorded at the sessions for Jailhouse Rock, Presley's next film. The songwriting team effectively produced the Jailhouse sessions and developed a close working relationship with Presley, who came to regard them as his "good-luck charm".[145] "He was fast," said Leiber. "Any demo you gave him he knew by heart in ten minutes."[146] The title track became another number-one hit, as was the Jailhouse Rock EP.[147] Elvis embraces Judy Tyler Presley and costar Judy Tyler in the trailer for Jailhouse Rock, released in October 1957 Presley undertook three brief tours during the year, continuing to generate a crazed audience response.[148] A Detroit newspaper suggested that "the trouble with going to see Elvis Presley is that you're liable to get killed".[149] Villanova students pelted the singer with eggs in Philadelphia,[149] and in Vancouver the crowd rioted after the end of the show, destroying the stage.[150] Frank Sinatra, who had inspired both the swooning and screaming of teenage girls in the 1940s, condemned the new musical phenomenon. In a magazine article, he decried rock and roll as "brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious. ... It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people. It smells phoney and false. It is sung, played and written, for the most part, by cretinous goons. ... This rancid-smelling aphrodisiac I deplore."[151] Asked for a response, Presley said, "I admire the man. He has a right to say what he wants to say. He is a great success and a fine actor, but I think he shouldn't have said it. ... This is a trend, just the same as he faced when he started years ago."[152] Leiber and Stoller were again in the studio for the recording of Elvis' Christmas Album. Toward the end of the session, they wrote a song on the spot at Presley's request: "Santa Claus Is Back in Town", an innuendo-laden blues.[153] The holiday release stretched Presley's string of number-one albums to four and would become the best-selling Christmas album ever in the United States,[154][155] with eventual sales of over 20 million worldwide.[156] After the session, Moore and Black—drawing only modest weekly salaries, sharing in none of Presley's massive financial success—resigned. Though they were brought back on a per diem basis a few weeks later, it was clear that they had not been part of Presley's inner circle for some time.[157] On December 20, Presley received his draft notice. He was granted a deferment to finish the forthcoming film King Creole, in which $350,000 had already been invested by Paramount and producer Hal Wallis. A couple of weeks into the new year, "Don't", another Leiber and Stoller tune, became Presley's tenth number-one seller. It had been only twenty-one months since "Heartbreak Hotel" had brought him to the top for the first time. Recording sessions for the King Creole soundtrack were held in Hollywood in mid-January 1958. Leiber and Stoller provided three songs and were again on hand, but it would be the last time Presley and the duo worked closely together.[158] As Stoller later recalled, Presley's manager and entourage sought to wall him off: "He was removed. ... They kept him separate."[159] A brief soundtrack session on February 11 marked another ending—it was the final occasion on which Black was to perform with Presley.[160] He died in 1965.[161] 1958–1960: military service and mother's death Main article: Military career of Elvis Presley Elvis being sworn into the US Army Presley being sworn into the Army on March 24, 1958, at Fort Chaffee On March 24, 1958, Presley was drafted into the United States Army at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas. His arrival was a major media event. Hundreds of people descended on Presley as he stepped from the bus; photographers then accompanied him into the installation.[162] Presley announced that he was looking forward to his military service, saying that he did not want to be treated any differently from anyone else: "The Army can do anything it wants with me."[163] Between March 28 and September 17, 1958, Presley completed basic and advanced military training at Fort Hood in Texas, where he was temporarily assigned to Company A, 2d Medium Tank Battalion, 37th Armor. During the two weeks' leave between his basic and advanced training in early June, he recorded five songs in Nashville.[164] In early August, Presley's mother was diagnosed with hepatitis, and her condition rapidly worsened. Presley was granted emergency leave to visit her and arrived in Memphis on August 12. Two days later, she died of heart failure at age 46. Presley was devastated and never the same;[165][166] their relationship had remained extremely close—even into his adulthood, they would use baby talk with each other and Presley would address her with pet names.[4] Elvis Presley poses for the camera during his military service at a US base in Germany. Presley, wearing the 3d Armored Division Shoulder Sleeve Insignia, poses atop a tank at Ray Barracks On October 1, 1958, Presley was assigned to the 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32d Armor, 3d Armored Division, at Ray Barracks, West Germany, where he served as an armor intelligence specialist.[1] On November 27, he was promoted to private first class and on June 1, 1959, to specialist fourth class. While on maneuvers, Presley was introduced to amphetamines by another soldier. He became "practically evangelical about their benefits", not only for energy but for "strength" and weight loss, and many of his friends in the outfit joined him in indulging.[167] The Army also introduced Presley to karate,[168] which he studied seriously, training with Jürgen Seydel.[169][170] It became a lifelong interest, which he later included in his live performances.[171][172][173] Fellow soldiers have attested to Presley's wish to be seen as an able, ordinary soldier despite his fame, and to his generosity. He donated his Army pay to charity, purchased television sets for the base, and bought an extra set of fatigues for everyone in his outfit.[174] Presley was promoted to sergeant on February 11, 1960.[1] While in Bad Nauheim, Presley, aged 24 at the time, met 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu. Priscilla said that due to their age difference when they met, he told her: "Why, you’re just a baby.”[175] They would eventually marry after a seven-and-a-half-year courtship. In her autobiography, Priscilla said that Presley was concerned that his 24-month spell in the military would ruin his career. In Special Services, he would have been able to give musical performances and remain in touch with the public, but Parker had convinced him that to gain popular respect, he should serve his country as a regular soldier.[176] Media reports echoed Presley's concerns about his career, but RCA producer Steve Sholes and Freddy Bienstock of Hill and Range had carefully prepared for his two-year hiatus. Armed with a substantial amount of unreleased material, they kept up a regular stream of successful releases.[177] Between his induction and discharge, Presley had ten top 40 hits, including "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck", the bestselling "Hard Headed Woman", and "One Night" in 1958, and "(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I" and the number-one "A Big Hunk o' Love" in 1959.[178] RCA also generated four albums compiling previously issued material during this period, most successfully Elvis' Golden Records (1958), which hit number three on the LP chart.[179] 1960–1968: focus on films See also: Elvis Presley on film and television Elvis Is Back "It's Now or Never" 0:21 Presley broke new stylistic ground and displayed his vocal range with this number-one hit. The quasi-operatic ballad ends with Presley "soaring up to an incredible top G sharp."[180] Problems playing this file? See media help. Presley returned to the U.S. on March 2, 1960, and was honorably discharged three days later.[181] The train that carried him from New Jersey to Tennessee was mobbed all the way, and Presley was called upon to appear at scheduled stops to please his fans.[182] On the night of March 20, he entered RCA's Nashville studio to cut tracks for a new album along with a single, "Stuck on You", which was rushed into release and swiftly became a number-one hit.[183] Another Nashville session two weeks later yielded a pair of his bestselling singles, the ballads "It's Now or Never" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight?", along with the rest of Elvis Is Back! The album features several songs described by Greil Marcus as full of Chicago blues "menace, driven by Presley's own super-miked acoustic guitar, brilliant playing by Scotty Moore, and demonic sax work from Boots Randolph. Elvis' singing wasn't sexy, it was p*rnographic."[184] As a whole, the record "conjured up the vision of a performer who could be all things", according to music historian John Robertson: "a flirtatious teenage idol with a heart of gold; a tempestuous, dangerous lover; a gutbucket blues singer; a sophisticated nightclub entertainer; [a] raucous rocker".[185] Released only days after recording was complete, it reached number two on the album chart.[186][187] Presley with Juliet Prowse in G.I. Blues Presley returned to television on May 12 as a guest on The Frank Sinatra Timex Special—ironic for both stars, given Sinatra's earlier excoriation of rock and roll. Also known as Welcome Home Elvis, the show had been taped in late March, the only time all year Presley performed in front of an audience. Parker secured an unheard-of $125,000 fee for eight minutes of singing. The broadcast drew an enormous viewership.[188] G.I. Blues, the soundtrack to Presley's first film since his return, was a number-one album in October. His first LP of sacred material, His Hand in Mine, followed two months later; it reached number 13 on the U.S. pop chart and number 3 in the United Kingdom, remarkable figures for a gospel album. In February 1961, Presley performed two shows for a benefit event in Memphis, on behalf of twenty-four local charities. During a luncheon preceding the event, RCA presented him with a plaque certifying worldwide sales of over 75 million records.[189] A twelve-hour Nashville session in mid-March yielded nearly all of Presley's next studio album, Something for Everybody.[190] As described by John Robertson, it exemplifies the Nashville sound, the restrained, cosmopolitan style that would define country music in the 1960s. Presaging much of what was to come from Presley himself over the next half-decade, the album is largely "a pleasant, unthreatening pastiche of the music that had once been Elvis' birthright".[191] It would be his sixth number-one LP. Another benefit concert, raising money for a Pearl Harbor memorial, was staged on March 25 in Hawaii. It was to be Presley's last public performance for seven years.[192] Lost in Hollywood Parker had by now pushed Presley into a heavy filmmaking schedule, focused on formulaic, modestly budgeted musical comedies. Presley initially insisted on pursuing higher roles, but when two films in a more dramatic vein—Flaming Star (1960) and Wild in the Country (1961)—were less commercially successful, he reverted to the formula. Among the twenty-seven films he made during the 1960s, there were a few further exceptions.[193] His films were almost universally panned; critic Andrew Caine dismissed them as a "pantheon of bad taste".[194] Nonetheless, they were virtually all profitable. Hal Wallis, who produced nine of them, declared, "A Presley picture is the only sure thing in Hollywood."[195] Of Presley's films in the 1960s, fifteen were accompanied by soundtrack albums and another five by soundtrack EPs. The films' rapid production and release schedules—Presley frequently starred in three a year—affected his music. According to Jerry Leiber, the soundtrack formula was already evident before Presley left for the Army: "three ballads, one medium-tempo [number], one up-tempo, and one break blues boogie".[196] As the decade wore on, the quality of the soundtrack songs grew "progressively worse".[197] Julie Parrish, who appeared in Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), says that Presley disliked many of the songs chosen for his films.[198] The Jordanaires' Gordon Stoker describes how he would retreat from the studio microphone: "The material was so bad that he felt like he couldn't sing it."[199] Most of the film albums featured a song or two from respected writers such as the team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. But by and large, according to biographer Jerry Hopkins, the numbers seemed to be "written on order by men who never really understood Elvis or rock and roll".[200] Regardless of the songs' quality, it has been argued that Presley generally sang them well, with commitment.[201] Critic Dave Marsh heard the opposite: "Presley isn't trying, probably the wisest course in the face of material like 'No Room to Rumba in a Sports Car' and 'Rock-A-Hula Baby'."[133] In the first half of the decade, three of Presley's soundtrack albums were ranked number one on the pop charts, and a few of his most popular songs came from his films, such as "Can't Help Falling in Love" (1961) and "Return to Sender" (1962). ("Viva Las Vegas", the title track to the 1964 film, was a minor hit as a B-side, and became truly popular only later.) But, as with artistic merit, the commercial returns steadily diminished. During a five-year span—1964 through 1968—Presley had only one top-ten hit: "Crying in the Chapel" (1965), a gospel number recorded back in 1960. As for non-film albums, between the June 1962 release of Pot Luck and the November 1968 release of the soundtrack to the television special that signaled his comeback, only one LP of new material by Presley was issued: the gospel album How Great Thou Art (1967). It won him his first Grammy Award, for Best Sacred Performance. As Marsh described, Presley was "arguably the greatest white gospel singer of his time [and] really the last rock & roll artist to make gospel as vital a component of his musical personality as his secular songs".[202] Shortly before Christmas 1966, more than seven years since they first met, Presley proposed to Priscilla Beaulieu. They were married on May 1, 1967, in a brief ceremony in their suite at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.[203] The flow of formulaic films and assembly-line soundtracks rolled on. It was not until October 1967, when the Clambake soundtrack LP registered record low sales for a new Presley album, that RCA executives recognized a problem. "By then, of course, the damage had been done", as historians Connie Kirchberg and Marc Hendrickx put it. "Elvis was viewed as a joke by serious music lovers and a has-been to all but his most loyal fans."[204] 1968–1973: comeback Elvis: the '68 Comeback Special Main article: Singer Presents...Elvis Presley, wearing a tight black leather jacket with Napoleonic standing collar, black leather wristbands, and black leather pants, holds a microphone with a long cord. His hair, which looks black as well, falls across his forehead. In front of him is an empty microphone stand. Behind, beginning below stage level and rising up, audience members watch him. A young woman with long black hair in the front row gazes up ecstatically. The '68 Comeback Special produced "one of the most famous images" of Presley.[205] Taken on June 29, 1968, it was adapted for the cover of Rolling Stone in July 1969.[205][206] Presley's only child, Lisa Marie, was born on February 1, 1968, during a period when he had grown deeply unhappy with his career.[207] Of the eight Presley singles released between January 1967 and May 1968, only two charted in the top 40, and none higher than number 28.[208] His forthcoming soundtrack album, Speedway, would rank at number 82 on the Billboard chart. Parker had already shifted his plans to television, where Presley had not appeared since the Sinatra Timex show in 1960. He maneuvered a deal with NBC that committed the network to both finance a theatrical feature and broadcast a Christmas special.[209] Recorded in late June in Burbank, California, the special, simply called Elvis, aired on December 3, 1968. Later known as the '68 Comeback Special, the show featured lavishly staged studio productions as well as songs performed with a band in front of a small audience—Presley's first live performances since 1961. The live segments saw Presley dressed in tight black leather, singing and playing guitar in an uninhibited style reminiscent of his early rock and roll days. Director and co-producer Steve Binder had worked hard to produce a show that was far from the hour of Christmas songs Parker had originally planned.[210] The show, NBC's highest-rated that season, captured forty-two percent of the total viewing audience.[211] Jon Landau of Eye magazine remarked, "There is something magical about watching a man who has lost himself find his way back home. He sang with the kind of power people no longer expect of rock 'n' roll singers. He moved his body with a lack of pretension and effort that must have made Jim Morrison green with envy."[212] Marsh calls the performance one of "emotional grandeur and historical resonance".[213] By January 1969, the single "If I Can Dream", written for the special, reached number 12. The soundtrack album rose into the top ten. According to friend Jerry Schilling, the special reminded Presley of what "he had not been able to do for years, being able to choose the people; being able to choose what songs and not being told what had to be on the soundtrack. ... He was out of prison, man."[211] Binder said of Presley's reaction, "I played Elvis the 60-minute show, and he told me in the screening room, 'Steve, it's the greatest thing I've ever done in my life. I give you my word I will never sing a song I don't believe in.'"[211] From Elvis in Memphis and the International "Power of My Love" 0:27 Beginning with his American Sound recordings, soul music became a central element in Presley's fusion of styles. Here, he revels in lyrics full of sexual innuendos.[214] Problems playing this file? See media help. Buoyed by the experience of the Comeback Special, Presley engaged in a prolific series of recording sessions at American Sound Studio, which led to the acclaimed From Elvis in Memphis. Released in June 1969, it was his first secular, non-soundtrack album from a dedicated period in the studio in eight years. As described by Marsh, it is "a masterpiece in which Presley immediately catches up with pop music trends that had seemed to pass him by during the movie years. He sings country songs, soul songs and rockers with real conviction, a stunning achievement."[215] The album featured the hit single "In the Ghetto", issued in April, which reached number three on the pop chart—Presley's first non-gospel top ten hit since "Bossa Nova Baby" in 1963. Further hit singles were culled from the American Sound sessions: "Suspicious Minds", "Don't Cry Daddy", and "Kentucky Rain".[216] Presley was keen to resume regular live performing. Following the success of the Comeback Special, offers came in from around the world. The London Palladium offered Parker US$28,000 (equivalent to $223,000 in 2022) for a one-week engagement. He responded, "That's fine for me, now how much can you get for Elvis?"[217] In May, the brand-new International Hotel in Las Vegas, boasting the largest showroom in the city, announced that it had booked Presley. He was scheduled to perform fifty-seven shows over four weeks, beginning July 31. Moore, Fontana, and the Jordanaires declined to participate, afraid of losing the lucrative session work they had in Nashville. Presley assembled new, top-notch accompaniment, led by guitarist James Burton and including two gospel groups, The Imperials and Sweet Inspirations.[218] Costume designer Bill Belew, responsible for the intense leather styling of the Comeback Special, created a new stage look for Presley, inspired by his passion for karate.[219] Nonetheless, Presley was nervous: his only previous Las Vegas engagement, in 1956, had been dismal. Parker, who intended to make Presley's return the show business event of the year, oversaw a major promotional push. For his part, International Hotel owner Kirk Kerkorian arranged to send his own plane to New York to fly in rock journalists for the debut performance.[220] Presley took to the stage without introduction. The audience of 2,200, including many celebrities, gave him a standing ovation before he sang a note and another after his performance. A third followed his encore, "Can't Help Falling in Love" (a song that would be his closing number for much of his remaining life).[221] At a press conference after the show, when a journalist referred to him as "The King", Presley gestured toward Fats Domino, who was taking in the scene. "No," Presley said, "that's the real king of rock and roll."[222] The next day, Parker's negotiations with the hotel resulted in a five-year contract for Presley to play each February and August, at an annual salary of $1 million.[223] Newsweek commented, "There are several unbelievable things about Elvis, but the most incredible is his staying power in a world where meteoric careers fade like shooting stars."[224] Rolling Stone called Presley "supernatural, his own resurrection."[225] In November, Presley's final non-concert film, Change of Habit, opened. The double album From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis came out the same month; the first LP consisted of live performances from the International, the second of more cuts from the American Sound sessions. "Suspicious Minds" reached the top of the charts—Presley's first U.S. pop number-one in over seven years, and his last.[226] Cassandra Peterson, later television's Elvira, met Presley during this period in Las Vegas, where she was working as a showgirl. She recalled of their encounter, "He was so anti-drug when I met him. I mentioned to him that I smoked marijuana, and he was just appalled. He said, 'Don't ever do that again.'"[227] Presley was not only deeply opposed to recreational drugs, he also rarely drank. Several of his family members had been alcoholics, a fate he intended to avoid.[228] Back on tour and meeting Nixon Presley returned to the International early in 1970 for the first of the year's two-month-long engagements, performing two shows a night. Recordings from these shows were issued on the album On Stage.[229] In late February, Presley performed six attendance-record–breaking shows at the Houston Astrodome.[230] In April, the single "The Wonder of You" was issued—a number one hit in the UK, it topped the U.S. adult contemporary chart, as well. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) filmed rehearsal and concert footage at the International during August for the documentary Elvis: That's the Way It Is. Presley was performing in a jumpsuit, which would become a trademark of his live act. During this engagement, he was threatened with murder unless US$50,000 (equivalent to $377,000 in 2022) was paid. Presley had been the target of many threats since the 1950s, often without his knowledge.[231] The FBI took the threat seriously and security was stepped up for the next two shows. Presley went onstage with a Derringer in his right boot and a .45 caliber pistol in his waistband, but the concerts succeeded without any incidents.[232][233] The album That's the Way It Is, produced to accompany the documentary and featuring both studio and live recordings, marked a stylistic shift. As music historian John Robertson noted, "The authority of Presley's singing helped disguise the fact that the album stepped decisively away from the American-roots inspiration of the Memphis sessions towards a more middle-of-the-road sound. With country put on the back burner, and soul and R&B left in Memphis, what was left was very classy, very clean white pop—perfect for the Las Vegas crowd, but a definite retrograde step for Elvis."[234] After the end of his International engagement on September 7, Presley embarked on a week-long concert tour, largely of the South, his first since 1958. Another week-long tour, of the West Coast, followed in November.[235] A mutton-chopped Presley, wearing a long velour jacket and a giant buckle like that of a boxing championship belt, shakes hands with a balding man wearing a suit and tie. They are facing camera and smiling. Five flags hang from poles directly behind them. Presley meets US President Richard Nixon in the White House Oval Office, December 21, 1970 On December 21, 1970, Presley engineered a meeting with U.S. President Richard Nixon at the White House, where he expressed his patriotism and explained how he believed he could reach out to the hippies to help combat the drug culture he and the president abhorred. He asked Nixon for a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge, to add to similar items he had begun collecting and to signify official sanction of his patriotic efforts. Nixon, who apparently found the encounter awkward, expressed a belief that Presley could send a positive message to young people and that it was, therefore, important that he "retain his credibility".[236] Presley told Nixon that the Beatles, whose songs he regularly performed in concert during the era,[237] exemplified what he saw as a trend of anti-Americanism.[238] Presley and his friends previously had a four-hour get-together with the Beatles at his home in Bel Air, California, in August 1965. On hearing reports of the meeting, Paul McCartney later said that he "felt a bit betrayed. ... The great joke was that we were taking [illegal] drugs, and look what happened to him", a reference to Presley's early death linked to prescription drug abuse.[239] Later Elvis would call the White House to speak with President Jimmy Carter to request a presidential pardon for a friend who had not yet been tried.[240] The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce named Presley one of its annual Ten Most Outstanding Young Men of the Nation on January 16, 1971.[241] Not long after, the City of Memphis named the stretch of Highway 51 South on which Graceland is located "Elvis Presley Boulevard". The same year, Presley became the first rock and roll singer to be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award (then known as the Bing Crosby Award) by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Grammy Award organization.[242][243] Three new, non-film Presley studio albums were released in 1971, as many as had come out over the previous eight years. Best received by critics was Elvis Country, a concept record that focused on genre standards.[244] The biggest seller was Elvis Sings The Wonderful World of Christmas, "the truest statement of all", according to Greil Marcus. "In the midst of ten painfully genteel Christmas songs, every one sung with appalling sincerity and humility, one could find Elvis tom-catting his way through six blazing minutes of "Merry Christmas Baby", a raunchy old Charles Brown blues. [...] If [Presley's] sin was his lifelessness, it was his sinfulness that brought him to life".[245] Marriage breakdown and Aloha from Hawaii See also: Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite Presley (center) with friends Bill Porter (left) and Paul Anka (right) backstage at the Las Vegas Hilton on August 5, 1972 MGM again filmed Presley in April 1972, this time for Elvis on Tour, which went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Documentary Film for that year's Golden Globe Awards. His gospel album He Touched Me, released that month, would earn him his second Grammy Award for Best Inspirational Performance, for that year's Grammy Awards. A fourteen-date tour commenced with an unprecedented four consecutive sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden.[246] The evening concert on July 10 was recorded and issued in an LP form a week later. Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden became one of Presley's biggest-selling albums. After the tour, the single "Burning Love" was released—Presley's last top ten hit on the U.S. pop chart. "The most exciting single Elvis has made since 'All Shook Up'", wrote rock critic Robert Christgau. "Who else could make 'It's coming closer, the flames are now licking my body' sound like an assignation with James Brown's backup band?"[247] High-collared white jumpsuit resplendent with red, blue, and gold eagle motif in sequins Presley came up with his outfit's eagle motif, as "something that would say 'America' to the world"[248] Presley and his wife, meanwhile, had become increasingly distant, barely cohabiting. In 1971, an affair he had with Joyce Bova resulted—unbeknownst to him—in her pregnancy and an abortion.[249] He often raised the possibility of Joyce moving into Graceland, saying that he was likely to leave Priscilla.[250] The Presleys separated on February 23, 1972, after Priscilla disclosed her relationship with Mike Stone, a karate instructor Presley had recommended to her. Priscilla related that when she told him, Presley "grabbed ... and forcefully made love to" her, declaring, "This is how a real man makes love to his woman".[251] She later stated in an interview that she regretted her choice of words in describing the incident, and said it had been an overstatement.[252] Five months later, Presley's new girlfriend, Linda Thompson, a songwriter and one-time Memphis beauty queen, moved in with him.[253] Presley and his wife filed for divorce on August 18.[254] According to Joe Moscheo of the Imperials, the failure of Presley's marriage "was a blow from which he never recovered".[255] At a rare press conference that June, a reporter had asked Presley whether he was satisfied with his image. Presley replied, "Well, the image is one thing and the human being another ... it's very hard to live up to an image."[256] In January 1973, Presley performed two benefit concerts for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund in connection with a groundbreaking television special, Aloha from Hawaii, which would be the first concert by a solo artist to be aired globally. The first show served as a practice run and backup should technical problems affect the live broadcast two days later. On January 14, Aloha from Hawaii aired live via satellite to prime-time audiences in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as to U.S. servicemen based across Southeast Asia. In Japan, where it capped a nationwide Elvis Presley Week, it smashed viewing records. The next night, it was simulcast to twenty-eight European countries, and in April an extended version finally aired in the U.S., where it won a fifty-seven percent share of the TV audience.[257] Over time, Parker's claim that it was seen by one billion or more people[258] would be broadly accepted,[259][260][261] but that figure appeared to have been sheer invention.[262] Presley's stage costume became the most recognized example of the elaborate concert garb with which his latter-day persona became closely associated. As described by Bobbie Ann Mason, "At the end of the show, when he spreads out his American Eagle cape, with the full stretched wings of the eagle studded on the back, he becomes a god figure."[263] The accompanying double album, released in February, went to number one and eventually sold over 5 million copies in the U.S.[264] It was Presley's last U.S. number-one pop album during his lifetime.[265] At a midnight show that same month, four men rushed onto the stage in an apparent attack. Security personnel came to Presley's defense, and he ejected one invader from the stage himself. Following the show, Presley became obsessed with the idea that the men had been sent by Mike Stone, Priscilla's lover, to kill him. Though they were shown to have been only overexuberant fans, Presley raged, "There's too much pain in me ... Stone [must] die." His outbursts continued with such intensity that a physician was unable to calm him, despite administering large doses of medication. After another two full days of raging, Red West, his friend and bodyguard, felt compelled to get a price for a contract killing and was relieved when Presley decided, "Aw hell, let's just leave it for now. Maybe it's a bit heavy."[266] 1973–1977: health deterioration and death Medical crises and last studio sessions Presley's divorce was finalized on October 9, 1973.[267] By then, his health was in serious decline. Twice during the year he overdosed on barbiturates, spending three days in a coma in his hotel suite after the first incident. Towards the end of 1973, he was hospitalized, semi-comatose from the effects of a pethidine addiction. According to his primary care physician, George C. Nichopoulos, Presley "felt that by getting drugs from a doctor, he wasn't the common everyday junkie getting something off the street".[268] Since his comeback, he had staged more live shows with each passing year, and 1973 saw 168 concerts, his busiest schedule ever.[269] Despite his failing health, he undertook another intensive touring schedule in 1974.[270] Presley's condition declined precipitously that September. Keyboardist Tony Brown remembered his arrival at a University of Maryland concert: "He fell out of the limousine, to his knees. People jumped to help, and he pushed them away like, 'Don't help me.' He walked on stage and held onto the mic for the first thirty minutes like it was a post. Everybody's looking at each other like, 'Is the tour gonna happen'?"[271] Guitarist John Wilkinson recalled, "He was all gut. He was slurring. He was so f***ed up. ... It was obvious he was drugged. It was obvious there was something terribly wrong with his body. It was so bad the words to the songs were barely intelligible. ... I remember crying. He could barely get through the introductions."[272] RCA, which had always enjoyed a steady stream of product from Presley, began to grow anxious as his interest in the recording studio waned. After a session in December 1973 that produced eighteen songs, enough for almost two albums, Presley made no official studio recordings in 1974.[273] Parker delivered RCA another concert record, Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis.[274] Recorded on March 20, it included a version of "How Great Thou Art" that won Presley his third and final Grammy Award for Best Inspirational Performance at that year's Grammy Awards.[275][276] All three of his competitive Grammy wins – out of fourteen total nominations – were for gospel recordings.[276] Presley returned to the recording studio in Hollywood in March 1975, but Parker's attempts to arrange another session toward the end of the year were unsuccessful.[277] In 1976, RCA sent a mobile recording unit to Graceland that made possible two full-scale recording sessions at Presley's home.[278] However, the recording process had become a struggle for him.[279] "Hurt" 0:19 An R&B hit for Roy Hamilton in 1955 and a pop hit for blue-eyed soul singer Timi Yuro in 1961, Presley's deep soul version was picked up by country radio in 1976.[280] Problems playing this file? See media help. Final months Journalist Tony Scherman wrote that, by early 1977, "Presley had become a grotesque caricature of his sleek, energetic former self. Grossly overweight, his mind dulled by the pharmacopia he daily ingested, he was barely able to pull himself through his abbreviated concerts."[281] According to Andy Greene of Rolling Stone, Presley's final performances were mostly "sad, sloppy affairs where a bloated, drugged Presley struggled to remember his lyrics and get through the night without collapsing ... Most everything from the final three years of his life is sad and hard to watch."[282] In Alexandria, Louisiana, he was on stage for less than an hour and "was impossible to understand".[283] On March 31, he canceled a performance in Baton Rouge, unable to get out of his hotel bed; four shows had to be canceled and rescheduled.[284] Despite the accelerating deterioration of his health, Presley fulfilled most of his touring commitments. According to Guralnick, fans "were becoming increasingly voluble about their disappointment, but it all seemed to go right past Presley, whose world was now confined almost entirely to his room and his spiritualism books".[285] Presley's cousin, Billy Smith, recalled how he would sit in his room and chat for hours, sometimes recounting favorite Monty Python sketches and his past escapades, but more often gripped by paranoid obsessions that reminded Smith of the billionaire recluse Howard Hughes.[286] "Way Down", Presley's last single issued during his lifetime, was released on June 6, 1977. That month, CBS taped two concerts for a television special, Elvis in Concert, to be broadcast in October. In the first, shot in Omaha on June 19, Presley's voice, Guralnick writes, "is almost unrecognizable, a small, childlike instrument in which he talks more than sings most of the songs, casts about uncertainly for the melody in others, and is virtually unable to articulate or project".[287] Two days later, in Rapid City, South Dakota, "he looked healthier, seemed to have lost a little weight, and sounded better, too", though, by the conclusion of the performance, his face was "framed in a helmet of blue-black hair from which sweat sheets down over pale, swollen cheeks".[287] Presley's final concert was held in Indianapolis at Market Square Arena, on June 26, 1977.[288] A long, ground-level gravestone reads "Elvis Aaron Presley", followed by the singer's dates, the names of his parents and daughter, and several paragraphs of smaller text. In the background is a small round pool, with a low decorative metal fence and several fountains. Presley's gravestone at Graceland Death See also: Elvis sightings On August 16, 1977, Presley was scheduled on an evening flight out of Memphis to Portland, Maine, to begin another tour. That afternoon, however, his fiancée Ginger Alden discovered him in an unresponsive state on the bathroom floor of his Graceland mansion.[289] Biographer Joel Williamson suggests that "involving a reaction to the codeine" he had taken "and attempts to move his bowels—he experienced pain and fright while sitting on the toilet. Alarmed, he stood up ... and fell face down in the fetal position." Drooling on the rug and "unable to breathe, he died."[290] Attempts to revive him failed, and he was pronounced dead at Baptist Memorial Hospital at 3:30 p.m.[291] He was 42 years old.[292] President Jimmy Carter issued a statement that credited Presley with having "permanently changed the face of American popular culture".[293] Thousands of people gathered outside Graceland to view the open casket. One of Presley's cousins, Billy Mann, accepted US$18,000 (equivalent to $87,000 in 2022) to secretly photograph the body; the picture appeared on the cover of the National Enquirer's biggest-selling issue ever.[294] Alden struck a $105,000 (equivalent to $507,000 in 2022) deal with the Enquirer for her story, but settled for less when she broke her exclusivity agreement.[295] Presley left her nothing in his will.[296] Presley's funeral was held at Graceland on Thursday, August 18. Outside the gates, a car plowed into a group of fans, killing two young women and critically injuring a third.[297] About 80,000 people lined the processional route to Forest Hill Cemetery, where Presley was buried next to his mother.[298] Within a few weeks, "Way Down" topped the country and UK singles chart.[299][300] Following an attempt to steal Presley's body in late August, the remains of both Presley and his mother were exhumed and reburied in Graceland's Meditation Garden on October 2. Presley is buried alongside his parents, daughter, grandson and his paternal grandmother in the Meditation Garden at Graceland.[295] Cause of death While an autopsy, undertaken the same day Presley died, was still in progress, Memphis medical examiner Jerry Francisco announced that the immediate cause of death was cardiac arrest. Asked if drugs were involved, he declared that "drugs played no role in Presley's death".[301] In fact, "drug use was heavily implicated" in Presley's death, writes Guralnick. The pathologists conducting the autopsy thought it possible, for instance, that he had suffered "anaphylactic shock brought on by the codeine pills he had gotten from his dentist, to which he was known to have had a mild allergy". A pair of lab reports filed two months later strongly suggested that polypharmacy was the primary cause of death; one reported "fourteen drugs in Elvis' system, ten in significant quantity".[302] In 1979, forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht conducted a review of the reports and concluded that a combination of depressants had resulted in Presley's accidental death.[301] Forensic historian and pathologist Michael Baden viewed the situation as complicated: "Elvis had had an enlarged heart for a long time. That, together with his drug habit, caused his death. But he was difficult to diagnose; it was a judgment call."[303] The competence and ethics of two of the centrally involved medical professionals were seriously questioned. Francisco had offered a cause of death before the autopsy was complete; claimed the underlying ailment was cardiac arrhythmia, a condition that can be determined only in someone who is still alive; and denied drugs played any part in Presley's death before the toxicology results were known.[301] Allegations of a cover-up were widespread.[303] While a 1981 trial of Presley's main physician, George C. Nichopoulos, exonerated him of criminal liability for his death, the facts were startling: "In the first eight months of 1977 alone, he had [prescribed] more than 10,000 doses of sedatives, amphetamines, and narcotics: all in Elvis' name." Nichopoulos' license was suspended for three months. It was permanently revoked in the 1990s after the Tennessee Medical Board brought new charges of over-prescription.[268] In 1994, the Presley autopsy report was reopened. Joseph Davis, who had conducted thousands of autopsies as Miami-Dade County coroner,[304] declared at its completion, "There is nothing in any of the data that supports a death from drugs. In fact, everything points to a sudden, violent heart attack."[268] More recent research has revealed that Francisco did not speak for the entire pathology team. Other staff "could say nothing with confidence until they got the results back from the laboratories, if then. That would be a matter of weeks." One of the examiners, E. Eric Muirhead, "could not believe his ears. Francisco had not only presumed to speak for the hospital's team of pathologists, he had announced a conclusion that they had not reached. ... Early on, a meticulous dissection of the body ... confirmed [that] Elvis was chronically ill with diabetes, glaucoma, and constipation. As they proceeded, the doctors saw evidence that his body had been wracked over a span of years by a large and constant stream of drugs. They had also studied his hospital records, which included two admissions for drug detoxification and methadone treatments."[305] According to biographer Frank Coffey and Dan Warlick, one of the physicians who were present at the autopsy, Presley's death was caused by a Valsalva maneuver due to constipation as a result of drug abuse.[306] When using the toilet, "the strain of attempting to defecate compressed the singer's abdominal aorta, shutting down his heart."[307] Later developments Between 1977 and 1981, six of Presley's posthumously released singles were top-ten country hits.[299] Graceland was opened to the public in 1982. Attracting over half a million visitors annually, it became the second-most-visited home in the United States, after the White House.[308] The residence was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2006.[309] Presley has been inducted into five music halls of fame: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986), the Country Music Hall of Fame (1998), the Gospel Music Hall of Fame (2001), the Rockabilly Hall of Fame (2007), and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame (2012). In 1984, he received the W. C. Handy Award from the Blues Foundation and the Academy of Country Music's first Golden Hat Award. In 1987, he received the American Music Awards' Award of Merit.[310] A Junkie XL remix of Presley's "A Little Less Conversation" (credited as "Elvis Vs JXL") was used in a Nike advertising campaign during the 2002 FIFA World Cup. It topped the charts in over twenty countries and was included in a compilation of Presley's number-one hits, ELV1S, which was also an international success. The album returned Presley to the top of the Billboard chart for the first time in almost three decades.[311] In 2003, a remix of "Rubberneckin'", a 1969 recording of Presley's, topped the U.S. sales chart, as did a 50th-anniversary re-release of "That's All Right" the following year.[312] The latter was an outright hit in Britain, debuting at number three on the pop chart; it also made the top ten in Canada.[313] In 2005, another three reissued singles, "Jailhouse Rock", "One Night"/"I Got Stung", and "It's Now or Never", went to number one in the UK. They were part of a campaign that saw the re-release of all eighteen of Presley's previous chart-topping UK singles. The first, "All Shook Up", came with a collectors' box that made it ineligible to chart again; each of the other seventeen reissues hit the British top five.[314] In 2005, Forbes magazine named Presley the top-earning deceased celebrity for the fifth straight year, with a gross income of $45 million.[315] He was placed second in 2006,[316] returned to the top spot the next two years,[317][318] and ranked fourth in 2009.[319] The following year, he was ranked second, with his highest annual income ever—$60 million—spurred by the celebration of his 75th birthday and the launch of Cirque du Soleil's Viva Elvis show in Las Vegas.[320] In November 2010, Viva Elvis: The Album was released, setting his voice to newly recorded instrumental tracks.[321][322] As of mid-2011, there were an estimated 15,000 licensed Presley products,[323] and he was again the second-highest-earning deceased celebrity.[324] Six years later, he ranked fourth with earnings of $35 million, up $8 million from 2016 due in part to the opening of a new entertainment complex, Elvis Presley's Memphis, and hotel, The Guest House at Graceland.[325] In 2018, RCA/Legacy released Elvis Presley – Where No One Stands Alone, a new album focused on Elvis' love of gospel music. Produced by Joel Weinshanker, Lisa Marie Presley and Andy Childs, the album introduced newly recorded instrumentation along with vocals from singers who had performed in the past with Elvis. It also included a reimagined duet with Lisa Marie, on the album's title track.[326] In 2022, Baz Luhrmann's film Elvis, a biographical film about Presley's life, was released in theaters. Presley is portrayed by Austin Butler and Parker by Tom Hanks. As of August 2022, the film had grossed $261.8 million worldwide on a $85 million budget, becoming the second-highest-grossing music biopic of all-time behind Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), and the fifth-highest-grossing Australian-produced film. For his portrayal of Elvis, Butler won the Golden Globe and was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actor.[327] In January 2023, on what would have been Presley's 88th birthday, his 1962 Lockheed 1329 JetStar sold at an auction for $260,000. The plane sold at the Mecum Kissimmee Collector Car auction in Florida.[328] Artistry Influences Presley's earliest musical influence came from gospel. His mother recalled that from the age of two, at the Assembly of God church in Tupelo attended by the family, "he would slide down off my lap, run into the aisle and scramble up to the platform. There he would stand looking at the choir and trying to sing with them."[329] In Memphis, Presley frequently attended all-night gospel singings at the Ellis Auditorium, where groups such as the Statesmen Quartet led the music in a style that, Guralnick suggests, sowed the seeds of Presley's future stage act: The Statesmen were an electric combination ... featuring some of the most thrillingly emotive singing and daringly unconventional showmanship in the entertainment world ... dressed in suits that might have come out of the window of Lansky's. ... Bass singer Jim Wetherington, known universally as the Big Chief, maintained a steady bottom, ceaselessly jiggling first his left leg, then his right, with the material of the pants leg ballooning out and shimmering. "He went about as far as you could go in gospel music," said Jake Hess. "The women would jump up, just like they do for the pop shows." Preachers frequently objected to the lewd movements ... but audiences reacted with screams and swoons.[330] As a teenager, Presley's musical interests were wide-ranging, and he was deeply informed about both white and African-American musical idioms. Though he never had any formal training, he had a remarkable memory, and his musical knowledge was already considerable by the time he made his first professional recordings aged 19 in 1954. When Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller met him two years later, they were astonished at his encyclopedic understanding of the blues,[331] and, as Stoller put it, "He certainly knew a lot more than we did about country music and gospel music."[159] At a press conference the following year, he proudly declared, "I know practically every religious song that's ever been written."[150] Musicianship Presley played guitar, bass, and piano; he received his first guitar when he was 11 years old. He could not read or write music and had no formal lessons, and played everything by ear.[332] Presley often played an instrument on his recordings and produced his own music. Presley played rhythm acoustic guitar on most of his Sun recordings and his 1950s RCA albums. He played electric bass guitar on "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care" after his bassist Bill Black had trouble with the instrument.[333] Presley played the bass line including the intro. Presley played piano on songs such as "Old Shep" and "First in Line" from his 1956 album Elvis.[334] He is credited with playing piano on later albums such as From Elvis in Memphis and "Moody Blue", and on "Unchained Melody", which was one of the last songs that he recorded.[335] Presley played lead guitar on one of his successful singles called "Are You Lonesome Tonight".[336] In the 68 Comeback Special, Elvis took over on lead electric guitar, the first time he had ever been seen with the instrument in public, playing it on songs such as "Baby What You Want Me to Do" and "One Night".[337] Presley played the back of his guitar on some of his hits such as "All Shook Up", "Don't Be Cruel", and "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear", providing percussion by slapping the instrument to create a beat.[338] The album Elvis is Back! features Presley playing a lot of acoustic guitar on songs such as "I Will Be Home Again" and "Like a Baby".[339] Musical styles and genres Photo of Elvis and the Jordanaires Presley with his longtime vocal backup group, the Jordanaires, March 1957 Presley was a central figure in the development of rockabilly, according to music historians. "Rockabilly crystallized into a recognizable style in 1954 with Elvis Presley's first release, on the Sun label," writes Craig Morrison.[340] Paul Friedlander described rockabilly as "essentially ... an Elvis Presley construction", with the defining elements as "the raw, emotive, and slurred vocal style and emphasis on rhythmic feeling [of] the blues with the string band and strummed rhythm guitar [of] country".[341] In "That's All Right", the Presley trio's first record, Scotty Moore's guitar solo, "a combination of Merle Travis–style country finger-picking, double-stop slides from acoustic boogie, and blues-based bent-note, single-string work, is a microcosm of this fusion".[341] While Katherine Charlton calls Presley "rockabilly's originator",[342] Carl Perkins, another pioneer of rock'n'roll, said that "[Sam] Phillips, Elvis, and I didn't create rockabilly".[343] According to Michael Campbell, the first major rockabilly song was recorded by Bill Haley.[344] In Moore's view, "It had been there for quite a while, really. Carl Perkins was doing basically the same sort of thing up around Jackson, and I know for a fact Jerry Lee Lewis had been playing that kind of music ever since he was ten years old."[345] At RCA Victor, Presley's rock and roll sound grew distinct from rockabilly with group chorus vocals, more heavily amplified electric guitars[346] and a tougher, more intense manner.[347] While he was known for taking songs from various sources and giving them a rockabilly/rock and roll treatment, he also recorded songs in other genres from early in his career, from the pop standard "Blue Moon" at Sun Records to the country ballad "How's the World Treating You?" on his second RCA Victor LP to the blues of "Santa Claus Is Back in Town". In 1957, his first gospel record was released, the four-song EP Peace in the Valley. Certified as a million-seller, it became the top-selling gospel EP in recording history.[348] Presley would record gospel periodically for the rest of his life. "Run On" 0:29 From How Great Thou Art (1967), a traditional song popular in the black gospel tradition. The arrangement evokes "the percussive style of the 1930s Golden Gate Quartet."[349][350] Problems playing this file? See media help. After his return from military service in 1960, Presley continued to perform rock and roll, but the characteristic style was substantially toned down. His first post-Army single, the number-one hit "Stuck on You", is typical of this shift. RCA Victor publicity referred to its "mild rock beat"; discographer Ernst Jorgensen calls it "upbeat pop".[351] The number five "She's Not You" (1962) "integrates the Jordanaires so completely, it's practically doo-wop".[352] The modern blues/R&B sound captured with success on Elvis Is Back! was essentially abandoned for six years until such 1966–67 recordings as "Down in the Alley" and "Hi-Heel Sneakers".[353] Presley's output during most of the 1960s emphasized pop music, often in the form of ballads such as "Are You Lonesome Tonight?", a number-one in 1960. "It's Now or Never", which also topped the chart that year, was a classically influenced variation of pop based on the Neapolitan song "'O sole mio" and concluding with a "full-voiced operatic cadence".[354] These were both dramatic numbers, but most of what Presley recorded for his many film soundtracks was in a much lighter vein.[355] While Presley performed several of his classic ballads for the '68 Comeback Special, the sound of the show was dominated by aggressive rock and roll. He recorded few new straight rock and roll songs thereafter; as he explained, they had become "hard to find".[356] A significant exception was "Burning Love", his last major hit on the pop charts. Like his work of the 1950s, Presley's subsequent recordings reworked pop and country songs, but in markedly different permutations. His stylistic range now began to embrace a more contemporary rock sound as well as soul and funk. Much of Elvis in Memphis, as well as "Suspicious Minds", cut at the same sessions, reflected this new rock and soul fusion. In the mid-1970s, many of his singles found a home on country radio, the field where he first became a star.[357] Vocal style and range Publicity photo of Elvis playing guitar Publicity photo for the CBS program Stage Show, January 16, 1956 The developmental arc of Presley's singing voice, as described by critic Dave Marsh, goes from "high and thrilled in the early days, [to] lower and perplexed in the final months."[358] Marsh credits Presley with the introduction of the "vocal stutter" on 1955's "Baby Let's Play House".[359] When on "Don't Be Cruel", Presley "slides into a 'mmmmm' that marks the transition between the first two verses," he shows "how masterful his relaxed style really is."[360] Marsh describes the vocal performance on "Can't Help Falling in Love" as one of "gentle insistence and delicacy of phrasing", with the line "'Shall I stay' pronounced as if the words are fragile as crystal".[361] Jorgensen calls the 1966 recording of "How Great Thou Art" "an extraordinary fulfillment of his vocal ambitions", as Presley "crafted for himself an ad-hoc arrangement in which he took every part of the four-part vocal, from [the] bass intro to the soaring heights of the song's operatic climax", becoming "a kind of one-man quartet".[362] Guralnick finds "Stand by Me" from the same gospel sessions "a beautifully articulated, almost nakedly yearning performance", but, by contrast, feels that Presley reaches beyond his powers on "Where No One Stands Alone", resorting "to a kind of inelegant bellowing to push out a sound" that Jake Hess of the Statesmen Quartet had in his command. Hess himself thought that while others might have voices the equal of Presley's, "he had that certain something that everyone searches for all during their lifetime."[363] Guralnick attempts to pinpoint that something: "The warmth of his voice, his controlled use of both vibrato technique and natural falsetto range, the subtlety and deeply felt conviction of his singing were all qualities recognizably belonging to his talent but just as recognizably not to be achieved without sustained dedication and effort."[364] Marsh praises his 1968 reading of "U.S. Male", "bearing down on the hard guy lyrics, not sending them up or overplaying them but tossing them around with that astonishingly tough yet gentle assurance that he brought to his Sun records."[365] The performance on "In the Ghetto" is, according to Jorgensen, "devoid of any of his characteristic vocal tricks or mannerisms", instead relying on the exceptional "clarity and sensitivity of his voice".[366] Guralnick describes the song's delivery as of "almost translucent eloquence ... so quietly confident in its simplicity".[367] On "Suspicious Minds", Guralnick hears essentially the same "remarkable mixture of tenderness and poise", but supplemented with "an expressive quality somewhere between stoicism (at suspected infidelity) and anguish (over impending loss)".[368] Music critic Henry Pleasants observes that "Presley has been described variously as a baritone and a tenor. An extraordinary compass ... and a very wide range of vocal color have something to do with this divergence of opinion."[369] He identifies Presley as a high baritone, calculating his range as two octaves and a third, "from the baritone low G to the tenor high B, with an upward extension in falsetto to at least a D-flat. Presley's best octave is in the middle, D-flat to D-flat, granting an extra full step up or down."[369] In Pleasants' view, his voice was "variable and unpredictable" at the bottom, "often brilliant" at the top, with the capacity for "full-voiced high Gs and As that an opera baritone might envy".[369] Scholar Lindsay Waters, who figures Presley's range as two-and-a-quarter octaves, emphasizes that "his voice had an emotional range from tender whispers to sighs down to shouts, grunts, grumbles, and sheer gruffness that could move the listener from calmness and surrender, to fear. His voice can not be measured in octaves, but in decibels; even that misses the problem of how to measure delicate whispers that are hardly audible at all."[370] Presley was always "able to duplicate the open, hoarse, ecstatic, screaming, shouting, wailing, reckless sound of the black rhythm-and-blues and gospel singers", writes Pleasants, and also demonstrated a remarkable ability to assimilate many other vocal styles.[369] Public image Relationship with the African-American community When Dewey Phillips first aired "That's All Right" on Memphis' WHBQ, many listeners who contacted the station by phone and telegram to ask for it again assumed that its singer was black.[61] From the beginning of his national fame, Presley expressed respect for African-American performers and their music, and disregard for the norms of segregation and racial prejudice then prevalent in the South. Interviewed in 1956, he recalled how in his childhood he would listen to blues musician Arthur Crudup—the originator of "That's All Right"—"bang his box the way I do now, and I said if I ever got to the place where I could feel all old Arthur felt, I'd be a music man like nobody ever saw."[45] The Memphis World, an African-American newspaper, reported that Presley, "the rock 'n' roll phenomenon", "cracked Memphis' segregation laws" by attending the local amusem*nt park on what was designated as its "colored night".[45] Such statements and actions led Presley to be generally hailed in the black community during the early days of his stardom.[45] In contrast, many white adults "did not like him, and condemned him as depraved. Anti-negro prejudice doubtless figured in adult antagonism. Regardless of whether parents were aware of the Negro sexual origins of the phrase 'rock 'n' roll', Presley impressed them as the visual and aural embodiment of sex."[6] Despite the largely positive view of Presley held by African Americans, a rumor spread in mid-1957 that he had at some point announced, "The only thing Negroes can do for me is buy my records and shine my shoes." A journalist with the national African American weekly Jet, Louie Robinson, pursued the story. On the set of Jailhouse Rock, Presley granted Robinson an interview, though he was no longer dealing with the mainstream press. He denied making such a statement: "I never said anything like that, and people who know me know that I wouldn't have said it. ... A lot of people seem to think I started this business. But rock 'n' roll was here a long time before I came along. Nobody can sing that kind of music like colored people. Let's face it: I can't sing like Fats Domino can. I know that."[371] Robinson found no evidence that the remark had ever been made, and on the contrary elicited testimony from many individuals indicating that Presley was anything but racist.[45][372] Blues singer Ivory Joe Hunter, who had heard the rumor before he visited Graceland one evening, reported of Presley, "He showed me every courtesy, and I think he's one of the greatest."[373] Though the rumored remark was discredited, it was still being used against Presley decades later.[374] The persistence of such attitudes was fueled by resentment over the fact that Presley, whose musical and visual performance idiom owed much to African-American sources, achieved the cultural acknowledgement and commercial success largely denied his black peers.[372] Into the 21st century, the notion that Presley had "stolen" black music still found adherents.[example needed][374][375] Notable among African-American entertainers expressly rejecting this view was Jackie Wilson, who argued, "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."[376] Moreover, Presley also acknowledged his debt to African-American musicians throughout his career. Addressing his '68 Comeback Special audience, he said, "Rock 'n' roll music is basically gospel or rhythm and blues, or it sprang from that. People have been adding to it, adding instruments to it, experimenting with it, but it all boils down to [that]."[377] Nine years earlier, he had said, "Rock 'n' roll has been around for many years. It used to be called rhythm and blues."[378] Sex symbol Film poster with Presley on the left, holding a young woman around the waist, her arms draped over his shoulders. To the right, five young women wearing bathing suits and holding guitars stand in a row. The one in front taps Presley on the shoulder. Along with title and credits is the tagline "Climb aboard your dreamboat for the fastest-movin' fun 'n' music!" Poster for the film Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962), visualizing Presley's sex symbol image Presley's physical attractiveness and sexual appeal were widely acknowledged. "He was once beautiful, astonishingly beautiful", according to critic Mark Feeney.[379] Television director Steve Binder, no fan of Presley's music before he oversaw the 1968 Comeback Special, reported, "I'm straight as an arrow and I got to tell you, you stop, whether you're male or female, to look at him. He was that good looking. And if you never knew he was a superstar, it wouldn't make any difference; if he'd walked in the room, you'd know somebody special was in your presence."[380] His performance style, as much as his physical beauty, was responsible for Presley's eroticized image. Writing in 1970, critic George Melly described him as "the master of the sexual simile, treating his guitar as both phallus and girl".[381] In his Presley obituary, Lester Bangs credited him as "the man who brought overt blatant vulgar sexual frenzy to the popular arts in America".[382] Ed Sullivan's declaration that he perceived a soda bottle in Presley's trousers was echoed by rumors involving a similarly positioned toilet roll tube or lead bar.[383] While Presley was marketed as an icon of heterosexuality, some cultural critics have argued that his image was ambiguous. In 1959, Sight and Sound's Peter John Dyer described his onscreen persona as "aggressively bisexual in appeal".[384] Brett Farmer places the "org*smic gyrations" of the title dance sequence in Jailhouse Rock within a lineage of cinematic musical numbers that offer a "spectacular eroticization, if not hom*oeroticization, of the male image".[385] In the analysis of Yvonne Tasker, "Elvis was an ambivalent figure who articulated a peculiar feminised, objectifying version of white working-class masculinity as aggressive sexual display."[386] Reinforcing Presley's image as a sex symbol were the reports of his dalliances with various Hollywood stars and starlets, from Natalie Wood in the 1950s to Connie Stevens and Ann-Margret in the 1960s to Candice Bergen and Cybill Shepherd in the 1970s. June Juanico of Memphis, one of Presley's early girlfriends, later blamed Parker for encouraging him to choose his dating partners with publicity in mind.[227] Presley never grew comfortable with the Hollywood scene, and most of these relationships were insubstantial.[387] Equestrian Presley kept several horses at Graceland, initially because of Priscilla Presley. "He got me my first horse as a Christmas present – Domino," said Priscilla.[388] The horse named Palomino Rising Sun was Presley' favorite horse, and there are many photographs of Presley riding him.[389] Legacy Further information: Cultural impact of Elvis Presley, Cultural depictions of Elvis Presley, Elvis has left the building, and List of songs about or referencing Elvis Presley I know he invented rock and roll, in a manner of speaking, but ... that's not why he's worshiped as a god today. He's worshiped as a god today because in addition to inventing rock and roll he was the greatest ballad singer this side of Frank Sinatra—because the spiritual translucence and reined-in gut sexuality of his slow weeper and torchy pop blues still activate the hormones and slavish devotion of millions of female human beings worldwide. —Robert Christgau December 24, 1985[390] Presley's rise to national attention in 1956 transformed the field of popular music and had a huge effect on the broader scope of popular culture.[391] As the catalyst for the cultural revolution that was rock and roll, he was central not only to defining it as a musical genre but in making it a touchstone of youth culture and rebellious attitude.[392] With its racially mixed origins—repeatedly affirmed by Presley—rock and roll's occupation of a central position in mainstream American culture facilitated a new acceptance and appreciation of black culture.[393] In this regard, Little Richard said of Presley, "He was an integrator. Elvis was a blessing. They wouldn't let black music through. He opened the door for black music."[394] Al Green agreed: "He broke the ice for all of us."[395] President Jimmy Carter remarked on Presley's legacy in 1977: "His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture. His following was immense, and he was a symbol to people the world over of the vitality, rebelliousness, and good humor of his country."[293] Presley also heralded the vastly expanded reach of celebrity in the era of mass communication: at the age of 21, within a year of his first appearance on American network television, he was regarded as one of the most famous people in the world.[396] A group of Elvis impersonators in 2005 Presley's name, image, and voice are recognized around the world.[397] He has inspired a legion of impersonators.[398] In polls and surveys, he is recognized as one of the most important popular music artists and influential Americans.[d] American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein said, "Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century. He introduced the beat to everything and he changed everything—music, language, clothes. It's a whole new social revolution—the sixties came from it."[407] John Lennon said that "Nothing really affected me until Elvis."[408] Bob Dylan described the sensation of first hearing Presley as "like busting out of jail".[395] Presley's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6777 Hollywood Blvd For much of his adult life, Presley, with his rise from poverty to riches and fame, had seemed to epitomize the American Dream.[409][410] In his final years, and following the revelations about his circ*mstances after his death, he became a symbol of excess and gluttony.[411][412] Increasing attention was paid to his appetite for the rich, heavy Southern cooking of his upbringing, foods such as chicken-fried steak and biscuits and gravy.[413][414] In particular, his love of fried peanut butter, banana, and (sometimes) bacon sandwiches,[415][413] now known as "Elvis sandwiches",[416] came to symbolize this characteristic.[417] According to the media scholar Robert Thompson, the sandwich also signified Presley's enduring all-American appeal: "He wasn't only the king, he was one of us."[418] Since 1977, there have been numerous alleged sightings of Presley. A long-standing conspiracy theory among some fans is that he faked his death.[419][420] Adherents cite alleged discrepancies in the death certificate, reports of a wax dummy in his original coffin, and accounts of Presley planning a diversion so he could retire in peace.[421] An unusually large number of fans have domestic shrines devoted to Presley and journey to sites with which he is connected, however faintly.[422] Every August 16, the anniversary of his death, thousands of people gather outside Graceland and celebrate his memory with a candlelight ritual.[423] "With Elvis, it is not just his music that has survived death", writes Ted Harrison. "He himself has been raised, like a medieval saint, to a figure of cultic status. It is as if he has been canonized by acclamation."[422] On the 25th anniversary of Presley's death, The New York Times asserted, "All the talentless impersonators and appalling black velvet paintings on display can make him seem little more than a perverse and distant memory. But before Elvis was camp, he was its opposite: a genuine cultural force. ... Elvis' breakthroughs are underappreciated because in this rock-and-roll age, his hard-rocking music and sultry style have triumphed so completely."[424] Not only Presley's achievements but his failings as well, are seen by some cultural observers as adding to the power of his legacy, as in this description by Greil Marcus: Elvis Presley is a supreme figure in American life, one whose presence, no matter how banal or predictable, brooks no real comparisons. ... The cultural range of his music has expanded to the point where it includes not only the hits of the day, but also patriotic recitals, pure country gospel, and really dirty blues. ... Elvis has emerged as a great artist, a great rocker, a great purveyor of schlock, a great heart throb, a great bore, a great symbol of potency, a great ham, a great nice person, and, yes, a great American.[425] Achievements Having sold about 500 million records worldwide, Presley is one of the best-selling music artists of all time.[426] Presley holds the records for most songs charting in Billboard's top 40 (115)[427][428][429] and top 100 (152), according to chart statistician Joel Whitburn,[429][430] 139 according to Presley historian Adam Victor.[428][429] Presley's rankings for top ten and number-one hits vary depending on how the double-sided "Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel" and "Don't/I Beg of You" singles, which precede the inception of Billboard's unified Hot 100 chart, are analyzed.[e] According to Whitburn's analysis, Presley holds the record with 38, tying with Madonna;[427] per Billboard's current assessment, he ranks second with 36.[431] Whitburn and Billboard concur that the Beatles hold the record for most number-one hits with 20, and that Mariah Carey is second with 19.[432] Whitburn has Presley with 18:[427] Billboard has him third with 17.[433] According to Billboard, Presley has 79 cumulative weeks at number one: alone at 80, according to Whitburn and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,[434][435] with only Mariah Carey having more with 91 weeks.[436] He holds the records for most number-one singles on the UK chart with 21 and singles reaching the top ten with 76.[437][438] As an album artist, Presley is credited by Billboard with the record for the most albums charting in the Billboard 200: 129, far ahead of second-place Frank Sinatra's 82. He also holds the record for most time spent at number one on the Billboard 200: 67 weeks.[439] In 2015 and 2016, two albums setting Presley's vocals against music by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, If I Can Dream and The Wonder of You, both reached number one in the United Kingdom. This gave him a new record for number-one UK albums by a solo artist with 13, and extended his record for longest span between number-one albums by anybody—Presley had first topped the British chart in 1956 with his self-titled debut.[440] As of 2023, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) credits Presley with 146.5 million certified album sales in the US, third all time behind the Beatles and Garth Brooks.[441] He holds the records for most gold albums (101, nearly twice as many as second-place Barbra Streisand's 51),[442] and most platinum albums (57).[443] His 25 multi-platinum albums is second behind the Beatles' 26.[444] His total of 197 album certification awards (including one diamond award), far outpaces the Beatles' second-best 122.[445] He has the 9th-most gold singles (54, tied with Justin Bieber),[446] and the 16th-most platinum singles (27).[447] In 2012, the spider Paradonea presleyi was named in his honor.[448] In 2018, President Donald Trump awarded Presley the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously.[449] Discography Main articles: Elvis Presley albums discography, Elvis Presley singles discography, and List of songs recorded by Elvis Presley A vast number of recordings have been issued under Presley's name. The total number of his original master recordings has been variously calculated as 665[428] and 711.[379] His career began and he was most successful during an era when singles were the primary commercial medium for pop music. In the case of his albums, the distinction between "official" studio records and other forms is often blurred. For most of the 1960s, his recording career focused on soundtrack albums. In the 1970s, his most heavily promoted and bestselling LP releases tended to be concert albums. Filmography Main article: Elvis Presley on film and television Films starred Love Me Tender (1956) Loving You (1957) Jailhouse Rock (1957) King Creole (1958) G.I. Blues (1960) Flaming Star (1960) Wild in the Country (1961) Blue Hawaii (1961) Follow That Dream (1962) Kid Galahad (1962) Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962) It Happened at the World's Fair (1963) Fun in Acapulco (1963) Kissin' Cousins (1964) Viva Las Vegas (1964) Roustabout (1964) Girl Happy (1965) Tickle Me (1965) Harum Scarum (1965) Frankie and Johnny (1966) Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966) Spinout (1966) Easy Come, Easy Go (1967) Double Trouble (1967) Clambake (1967) Stay Away, Joe (1968) Speedway (1968) Live a Little, Love a Little (1968) Charro! (1969) The Trouble with Girls (1969) Change of Habit (1969) Elvis: That's the Way It Is (1970) Elvis on Tour (1972) TV concert specials Elvis (1968) Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite (1973) Elvis in Concert (1977) See also Elvis Presley Enterprises Honorific nicknames in popular music List of artists by number of UK Albums Chart number ones List of artists by number of UK Singles Chart number ones List of bestselling music artists Personal relationships of Elvis Presley Explanatory notes Although some pronounce his surname /ˈprɛzli/ PREZ-lee, Presley himself pronounced it /ˈprɛsli/ PRESS-lee, as did his family and those who worked with him.[2] The correct spelling of his middle name has long been a matter of debate. The physician who delivered him wrote "Elvis Aaron Presley" in his ledger.[3] The state-issued birth certificate reads "Elvis Aron Presley". The name was chosen after the Presleys' friend and fellow congregation member Aaron Kennedy, though a single-A spelling was probably intended by Presley's parents to parallel the middle name of Presley's stillborn brother, Jesse Garon.[4] It reads Aron on most official documents produced during his lifetime, including his high school diploma, RCA Victor record contract, and marriage license, and this was generally taken to be the proper spelling.[5] In 1966, Presley expressed the desire to his father that the more traditional biblical rendering, Aaron, be used henceforth, "especially on legal documents".[3] Five years later, the Jaycees citation honoring him as one of the country's Outstanding Young Men used Aaron. Late in his life, he sought to officially change the spelling to Aaron and discovered that state records already listed it that way. Knowing his wishes for his middle name, Aaron is the spelling his father chose for Presley's tombstone, and it is the spelling his estate has designated as official.[5] Of the $40,000, $5,000 covered back royalties owed by Sun.[89] In 1956–57, Presley was also credited as a co-writer on several songs where he had no hand in the writing process: "Heartbreak Hotel"; "Don't Be Cruel"; all four songs from his first film, including the title track, "Love Me Tender"; "Paralyzed"; and "All Shook Up".[92] (Parker, however, failed to register Presley with such musical licensing firms as ASCAP and its rival BMI, which eventually denied Presley annuity from songwriter's royalties.) Presley received credit on two other songs to which he did contribute: he provided the title for "That's Someone You Never Forget" (1961), written by his friend and former Humes schoolmate Red West; they collaborated with another friend, guitarist Charlie Hodge, on "You'll Be Gone" (1962).[93] VH1 ranked Presley No. 8 among the "100 Greatest Artists of Rock & Roll" in 1998.[399] The BBC ranked him as the No. 2 "Voice of the Century" in 2001.[400] Rolling Stone placed him No. 3 in its list of "The Immortals: The Fifty Greatest Artists of All Time" in 2004.[401] CMT ranked him No. 15 among the "40 Greatest Men in Country Music" in 2005.[402] The Discovery Channel placed him No. 8 on its "Greatest American" list in 2005.[403] Variety put him in the top ten of its "100 Icons of the Century" in 2005.[404] The Atlantic ranked him No. 66 among the "100 Most Influential Figures in American History" in 2006.[405] Rolling Stone ranked him No. 17 on its 2023 list of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time.[406] Whitburn follows actual Billboard history in considering the four songs on the "Don't Be Cruel/Hound Dog" and "Don't/I Beg of You" singles as distinct. He tallies each side of the former single as a number-one (Billboard's sales chart had "Don't Be Cruel" at number one for five weeks, then "Hound Dog" for six) and reckons "I Beg of You" as a top ten, as it reached number eight on the old Top 100 chart. Billboard now considers both singles as unified items, ignoring the historical sales split of the former and its old Top 100 chart entirely. Whitburn thus analyzes the four songs as yielding three number ones and a total of four top tens. Billboard now states that they yielded just two number ones and a total of two top tens, voiding the separate chart appearances of "Hound Dog" and "I Beg of You". Allen, Lew (2007). Elvis and the Birth of Rock. Genesis. ISBN 978-1-905662-00-5. Bennet, Mark (August 15, 2017). "Elvis impersonator reviews his career highlights, wardrobe". Daily Herald of Arlington Heights. Retrieved February 2, 2018. "Elvis Presley: Chart History – Classical Albums". Billboard. 2018. Archived from the original on May 7, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018. Bloom, Nate (2010). "The Jews Who Wrote Christmas Songs". InterfaithFamily.com. Archived from the original on November 9, 2011. Retrieved February 6, 2011. Cantor, Louis (2005). Dewey and Elvis: The Life and Times of a Rock 'n' Roll Deejay. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02981-3. "Elvis Presley Fast Facts". CNN. December 22, 2020 [May 12, 2017]. Retrieved June 14, 2022. Dickerson, James L. (2001). Colonel Tom Parker: The Curious Life of Elvis Presley's Eccentric Manager. Cooper Square Press. ISBN 978-0-8154-1267-0. Gatto, Kimberly; Racimo, Victoria (2017). All the King's Horses: the Equestrian Life of Elvis Presley. Regnery History. ISBN 978-1-62157-603-7. Goldman, Albert (1981). Elvis. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-023657-8. Goldman, Albert (1990). Elvis: The Last 24 Hours. St. Martin's. ISBN 978-0-312-92541-3. Klein, George (2010). Elvis: My Best Man: Radio Days, Rock 'n' Roll Nights, and My Lifelong Friendship with Elvis Presley. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-307-45274-0 Marcus, Greil (1991). Dead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-41718-1. Marcus, Greil (2000). Double Trouble: Bill Clinton and Elvis Presley in a Land of No Alternative. Picador. ISBN 978-0-571-20676-6. Mawer, Sharon (2007a). "Album Chart History – 1974". The Official UK Charts Company. Archived from the original on December 17, 2007. Retrieved February 1, 2010. Mawer, Sharon (2007b). "Album Chart History – 1977". The Official UK Charts Company. Archived from the original on April 15, 2008. Retrieved February 1, 2010. Nash, Alanna (2010). Baby, Let's Play House: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him. It Books. ISBN 978-0-06-169984-9. Roy, Samuel (1985). Elvis: Prophet of Power. Branden, ISBN 978-0-8283-1898-3. "Southern Genealogy Yields Surprises". Voice of America. October 27, 2009. Retrieved January 19, 2018. Whitburn, Joel (2007). Joel Whitburn Presents the Billboard Albums (6th ed.). Record Research. ISBN 978-0-89820-166-6. Whitburn, Joel (2008). Joel Whitburn Presents Hot Country Albums: Billboard 1964 to 2007. Record Research. ISBN 978-0-89820-173-4. Red West, Sonny West, and Dave Hebler as told to Steve Dunleavy (1977). Elvis: What Happened? Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-345-27215-7. External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elvis Presley. Wikiquote has quotations related to Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley at Curlie Elvis Presley at IMDb Elvis Presley at the TCM Movie Database Elvis Presley at AllMovie Elvis The Music official record label site Elvis Presley Interviews on officially sanctioned Elvis Australia site "The All American Boy: Enter Elvis and the Rock-a-billies" episode of 1968 Pop Chronicles radio series vte Elvis Presley Albums Singles Songs Films and television Personal relationships Cultural depictions Cultural impact Studio albums Elvis Presley Elvis (1956 album) Elvis' Christmas Album Elvis Is Back! His Hand in Mine Something for Everybody Pot Luck How Great Thou Art From Elvis in Memphis From Memphis to Vegas / From Vegas to Memphis That's the Way It Is Elvis Country (I'm 10,000 Years Old) Love Letters from Elvis Elvis Sings The Wonderful World of Christmas Elvis Now He Touched Me Elvis (1973 album) Raised on Rock / For Ol' Times Sake Good Times Promised Land Today From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee Moody Blue Soundtrack albums Loving You King Creole G.I. Blues Blue Hawaii Girls! Girls! Girls! It Happened at the World's Fair Fun in Acapulco Kissin' Cousins Roustabout Girl Happy Harum Scarum Frankie and Johnny Paradise Hawaiian Style Spinout Double Trouble Clambake Speedway Viva Elvis Elvis Presley: The Searcher EPs Love Me Tender Peace in the Valley Jailhouse Rock Flaming Star Follow That Dream Kid Galahad Viva Las Vegas Tickle Me Easy Come, Easy Go Live albums Elvis (1968 album) From Memphis to Vegas / From Vegas to Memphis On Stage As Recorded at Madison Square Garden Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis Having Fun with Elvis on Stage Elvis in Concert An Afternoon in the Garden Budget albums Elvis Sings Flaming Star Let's Be Friends Almost in Love C'mon Everybody I Got Lucky Elvis' 40 Greatest Pure Gold Compilation albums Elvis' Golden Records For LP Fans Only A Date with Elvis 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong Elvis' Golden Records Volume 3 Elvis for Everyone! Elvis' Gold Records Volume 4 Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 1 Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 2 The Sun Sessions Welcome to My World Mahalo from Elvis Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 3 Greatest Hits Volume 1 Elvis' Gold Records Volume 5 Amazing Grace: His Greatest Sacred Performances Command Performances: The Essential 60s Masters II Elvis 56 Tiger Man Memories: The '68 Comeback Special Sunrise Suspicious Minds: The Memphis 1969 Anthology The 50 Greatest Hits ELV1S: 30 #1 Hits 2nd to None Elvis at Sun Hitstory Elvis Inspirational Elvis Rock Elvis Christmas The Essential Elvis Presley Christmas Duets If I Can Dream Way Down in the Jungle Room The Wonder of You Where No One Stands Alone Box sets Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits Vol. 1 The King of Rock 'n' Roll: The Complete 50's Masters From Nashville to Memphis: The Essential '60s Masters Walk a Mile in My Shoes: The Essential '70s Masters Peace in the Valley: The Complete Gospel Recordings Live in Las Vegas Today, Tomorrow, and Forever Elvis the King The Complete '68 Comeback Special The Complete Elvis Presley Masters Biographical media Elvis (1979 film) Elvis (1990 series) Elvis Meets Nixon Elvis (2005 miniseries) Elvis & Nixon Elvis (2022 film) Agent Elvis (2023 series) Priscilla Documentaries The Pied Piper of Cleveland Elvis: That's the Way It Is Elvis on Tour This Is Elvis The New Gladiators Elvis Presley: The Searcher TV specials The Frank Sinatra Timex Show: Welcome Home Elvis Elvis ('68 Comeback Special) Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite Elvis in Concert Stage shows Cooking with Elvis All Shook Up Elvis. The Musical Elvis: The Concert Viva Elvis The Elvis Dead Related people Lisa Marie Presley (daughter) Riley Keough (granddaughter) Priscilla Presley (ex-wife) Brandon Presley (second cousin) Sam Phillips The Blue Moon Boys The Jordanaires The Imperials The Sweet Inspirations TCB Band J. D. Sumner Stephen H. Sholes June Juanico Memphis Mafia Colonel Tom Parker George C. Nichopoulos Judy Spreckels Linda Thompson Ginger Alden Larry Geller Related articles Graceland Audubon Street House Impersonators Elvis and Gladys Elvis and Me Elvis: What Happened? Elvis-A-Rama Museum Sun recordings Million Dollar Quartet Cultural depictions of Elvis Presley Songs about Elvis Elvis Presley Enterprises Elvis Presley Lake "Elvis has left the building" Elvis Radio FBI files on Elvis Presley Military service Eight Elvises Triple Elvis Elvis Presley's Pink Cadillac Elvis Presley's guitars Elvis Presley Forever stamp Elvis sightings Elvis sandwich Fool's Gold Loaf Elvis' Greatest s*** List of memorials Category vte Elvis Presley singles 1954 "That's All Right" / "Blue Moon of Kentucky" "Good Rockin' Tonight" / "I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine" "Milkcow Blues Boogie" / "You're a Heartbreaker" 1955 "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" / "Baby Let's Play House" "I Forgot to Remember to Forget" / "Mystery Train" 1956 "Heartbreak Hotel" / "I Was the One" "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" / "My Baby Left Me" "Don't Be Cruel" / "Hound Dog" "Blue Suede Shoes" / "Tutti Frutti" "Money Honey" "I Got a Woman" "Tryin' to Get to You" "Blue Moon" "I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')" / "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You)" "Shake, Rattle and Roll" / "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" "Love Me Tender" / "Any Way You Want Me" 1957 "Too Much" / "Playing for Keeps" "All Shook Up" / "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" "Peace in the Valley" "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" / "Loving You" "Paralyzed" (UK) "Jailhouse Rock" / "Treat Me Nice" "Party" / "Got a Lot o' Livin' to Do!" (UK) 1958 "Don't" / "I Beg of You" "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck" / "Doncha' Think It's Time" "Hard Headed Woman" / "Don't Ask Me Why" "King Creole" (UK) "One Night" / "I Got Stung" 1959 "I Need Your Love Tonight" / "A Fool Such as I" "A Big Hunk o' Love" / "My Wish Came True" 1960 "Stuck on You" / "Fame and Fortune" "It's Now or Never" / "A Mess of Blues" "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" / "I Gotta Know" 1961 "Surrender" / "Lonely Man" "I Feel So Bad" / "Wild in the Country" "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame" / "Little Sister" "Can't Help Falling in Love" / "Rock-A-Hula Baby" 1962 "Good Luck Charm" / "Anything That's Part of You" "She's Not You" / "Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello" "King of the Whole Wide World" "Return to Sender" / "Where Do You Come From" 1963 "One Broken Heart for Sale" / "They Remind Me Too Much of You" "(You're the) Devil in Disguise" "Bossa Nova Baby" / "Witchcraft" 1964 "Kissin' Cousins" / "It Hurts Me" "Kiss Me Quick" / "Suspicion" "Viva Las Vegas" / "What'd I Say" "Such a Night" / "Never Ending" "Ask Me" / "Ain't That Loving You Baby" "Blue Christmas" 1965 "Do the Clam" / "You'll Be Gone" "Crying in the Chapel "(Such an) Easy Question" / "It Feels So Right" "I'm Yours" / "(It's a) Long Lonely Highway" "Puppet on a String" / "Wooden Heart" 1966 "Tell Me Why" / "Blue River" "Frankie and Johnny" / "Please Don't Stop Loving Me" "Love Letters" "Spinout" / "All That I Am" "If Every Day Was Like Christmas" 1967 "Indescribably Blue" / "Fools Fall in Love" "You Gotta Stop" / "The Love Machine" (UK) "Long Legged Girl (with the Short Dress On)" / "That's Someone You Never Forget" "There's Always Me" / "Judy" "Big Boss Man" / "You Don't Know Me" 1968 "Guitar Man" "U.S. Male" / "Stay Away" "We Call on Him" / "You'll Never Walk Alone" "Your Time Hasn't Come Yet, Baby" / "Let Yourself Go" "Almost in Love" / "A Little Less Conversation" "If I Can Dream" / "Edge of Reality" 1969 "Memories" / "Charro" "How Great Thou Art" "In the Ghetto" / "Any Day Now" "Clean Up Your Own Backyard" "Suspicious Minds" / "You'll Think of Me" "Don't Cry Daddy" "Rubberneckin'" 1970 "Kentucky Rain" "The Wonder of You" / "Mama Liked the Roses" "I've Lost You" / "The Next Step Is Love" "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" / "Patch It Up" "I Really Don't Want to Know" / "There Goes My Everything" 1971 "Rags to Riches" "Life" / "Only Believe" "I'm Leavin'" "It's Only Love" / "The Sound of Your Cry" "Merry Christmas Baby" / "O Come All Ye Faithful" 1972 "Until It's Time for You to Go" / "We Can Make the Morning" "He Touched Me" / "Bosom of Abraham" "An American Trilogy" / "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" "Burning Love" / "It's a Matter of Time" "Separate Ways" / "Always on My Mind" 1973 "Steamroller Blues" / "Fool" "Raised on Rock" / "For Ol' Times Sake" 1974 "Take Good Care of Her" / "I've Got a Thing About You, Baby" "If You Talk in Your Sleep" / "Help Me" "Promised Land" / "It's Midnight" 1975 "My Boy" / "Thinking About You" "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" "Bringing It Back" / "Pieces of My Life" 1976 "For the Heart" / "Hurt" "Moody Blue" / "She Thinks I Still Care" 1977 "Way Down" / "Pledging My Love" "My Way" / "America the Beautiful" 1978 "Unchained Melody" / "Softly as I Leave You" Posthumous singles "Puppet on a String" / "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" (1978) "Are You Sincere" / "Solitaire" "There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)" / "I Got a Feelin' in My Body" "Guitar Man" "Loving Arms" / You Asked Me To" "You'll Never Walk Alone / "There Goes My Everything" (1982) "The Elvis Medley" "I Was the One" / "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck" (1983) "Heartbreak Hotel" (1996) "Blue Christmas" (1998) "A Little Less Conversation" (JXL remix) "Rubberneckin'" (Paul Oakenfold Remix) "I'll Be Home for Christmas" (with Carrie Underwood) (2008) "Blue Christmas" (with Martina McBride) (2008) "I Got a Feelin' in My Body" (Tommie Sunshine & Wuki Remix) Category Awards for Elvis Presley vte American Music Award of Merit Bing Crosby (1974) Berry Gordy (1975) Irving Berlin (1976) Johnny Cash (1977) Ella Fitzgerald (1978) Perry Como (1979) Benny Goodman (1980) Chuck Berry (1981) Stevie Wonder (1982) Kenny Rogers (1983) Michael Jackson (1984) Loretta Lynn (1985) Paul McCartney (1986) Elvis Presley (1987) The Beach Boys (1988) Willie Nelson (1989) Neil Diamond (1990) Merle Haggard (1991) James Brown (1992) Bill Graham (1993) Whitney Houston (1994) Prince (1995) Tammy Wynette (1996) Little Richard (1997) Frank Sinatra (1998) Billy Joel (1999) Gloria Estefan (2000) Janet Jackson (2001) Garth Brooks (2002) Alabama (2003) Bon Jovi (2004) Annie Lennox (2008) Sting (2016) vte Best-selling singles by year in the United Kingdom 1950s 1952: "Here in My Heart" – Al Martino 1953: "I Believe" – Frankie Laine 1954: "Secret Love" – Doris Day 1955: "Rose Marie" – Slim Whitman 1956: "I'll Be Home" – Pat Boone 1957: "Diana" – Paul Anka 1958: "Jailhouse Rock" – Elvis Presley 1959: "Living Doll" – Cliff Richard (UK) 1960s 1960: "It's Now or Never" – Elvis Presley 1961: "Wooden Heart" – Elvis Presley 1962: "I Remember You" – Frank Ifield (UK) 1963: "She Loves You" – The Beatles (UK) 1964: "Can't Buy Me Love" – The Beatles (UK) 1965: "Tears" – Ken Dodd (UK) 1966: "Green, Green Grass of Home" – Tom Jones (UK) 1967: "Release Me" – Engelbert Humperdinck (UK) 1968: "Hey Jude" – The Beatles (UK) 1969: "Sugar, Sugar" – The Archies 1970s 1970: "The Wonder of You" – Elvis Presley / "In the Summertime" – Mungo Jerry (UK) 1971: "My Sweet Lord" – George Harrison (UK) 1972: "Amazing Grace" – Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (UK) 1973: "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" – Dawn featuring Tony Orlando 1974: "Tiger Feet" – Mud (UK) 1975: "Bye Bye Baby" – Bay City Rollers (UK) 1976: "Save Your Kisses for Me" – Brotherhood of Man (UK) 1977: "Mull of Kintyre" / "Girls' School" – Wings (UK) 1978: "Rivers of Babylon" / "Brown Girl in the Ring" – Boney M. 1979: "Bright Eyes" – Art Garfunkel 1980s 1980: "Don't Stand So Close to Me" – The Police (UK) 1981: "Tainted Love" – Soft Cell (UK) / "Don't You Want Me" – The Human League (UK) 1982: "Come On Eileen" – Dexys Midnight Runners (UK) 1983: "Karma Chameleon" – Culture Club (UK) 1984: "Do They Know It's Christmas?" – Band Aid (UK) 1985: "The Power of Love" – Jennifer Rush 1986: "Don't Leave Me This Way" – The Communards (UK) 1987: "Never Gonna Give You Up" – Rick Astley (UK) 1988: "Mistletoe and Wine" – Cliff Richard (UK) 1989: "Ride on Time" – Black Box 1990s 1990: "Unchained Melody" – The Righteous Brothers 1991: "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" – Bryan Adams 1992: "I Will Always Love You" – Whitney Houston 1993: "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" – Meat Loaf 1994: "Love Is All Around" – Wet Wet Wet (UK) 1995: "Unchained Melody" – Robson & Jerome (UK) 1996: "Killing Me Softly" – Fugees 1997: "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" / "Candle in the Wind 1997" – Elton John (UK) 1998: "Believe" – Cher 1999: "...Baby One More Time" – Britney Spears 2000s 2000: "Can We Fix It?" – Bob the Builder (UK) 2001: "It Wasn't Me" – Shaggy featuring Rikrok (UK) 2002: "Anything Is Possible" / "Evergreen" – Will Young (UK) 2003: "Where Is the Love?" – Black Eyed Peas 2004: "Do They Know It's Christmas?" – Band Aid 20 (UK) 2005: "(Is This the Way to) Amarillo" – Tony Christie featuring Peter Kay (UK) 2006: "Crazy" – Gnarls Barkley 2007: "Bleeding Love" – Leona Lewis (UK) 2008: "Hallelujah" – Alexandra Burke (UK) 2009: "Poker Face" – Lady Gaga 2010s 2010: "Love the Way You Lie" – Eminem featuring Rihanna 2011: "Someone like You" – Adele (UK) 2012: "Somebody That I Used to Know" – Gotye featuring Kimbra 2013: "Blurred Lines" – Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams 2014: "Happy" – Pharrell Williams 2015: "Uptown Funk" – Mark Ronson (UK) featuring Bruno Mars 2016: "One Dance" – Drake featuring Wizkid and Kyla (UK) 2017: "Shape of You" – Ed Sheeran (UK) 2018: "One Kiss" – Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa (UK) 2019: "Someone You Loved" – Lewis Capaldi (UK) 2020s 2020: "Blinding Lights" – The Weeknd 2021: "Bad Habits" – Ed Sheeran (UK) 2022: "As It Was" – Harry Styles (UK) vte Country Music Hall of Fame 1990s Tennessee Ernie Ford (1990) Felice and Boudleaux Bryant (1991) George Jones (1992) Frances Preston (1992) Willie Nelson (1993) Merle Haggard (1994) Roger Miller (1995) Jo Walker-Meador (1995) Patsy Montana (1996) Buck Owens (1996) Ray Price (1996) Harlan Howard (1997) Brenda Lee (1997) Cindy Walker (1997) George Morgan (1998) Elvis Presley (1998) E.W. "Bud" Wendell (1998) Tammy Wynette (1998) Johnny Bond (1999) Dolly Parton (1999) Conway Twitty (1999) vte Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award 1963–1990 1963 Bing Crosby 1965 Frank Sinatra 1966 Duke Ellington 1967 Ella Fitzgerald 1968 Irving Berlin 1971 Elvis Presley 1972 Louis Armstrong Mahalia Jackson 1984 Chuck Berry Charlie Parker 1985 Leonard Bernstein 1986 Benny Goodman The Rolling Stones Andrés Segovia 1987 Roy Acuff Benny Carter Enrico Caruso Ray Charles Fats Domino Woody Herman Billie Holiday B.B. King Isaac Stern Igor Stravinsky Arturo Toscanini Hank Williams 1989 Fred Astaire Pablo Casals Dizzy Gillespie Jascha Heifetz Lena Horne Leontyne Price Bessie Smith Art Tatum Sarah Vaughan 1990 Nat King Cole Miles Davis Vladimir Horowitz Paul McCartney 1991–2000 1991 Marian Anderson Bob Dylan John Lennon Kitty Wells 1992 James Brown John Coltrane Jimi Hendrix Muddy Waters 1993 Chet Atkins Little Richard Thelonious Monk Bill Monroe Pete Seeger Fats Waller 1994 Bill Evans Aretha Franklin Arthur Rubinstein 1995 Patsy Cline Peggy Lee Henry Mancini Curtis Mayfield Barbra Streisand 1996 Dave Brubeck Marvin Gaye Georg Solti Stevie Wonder 1997 Bobby "Blue" Bland The Everly Brothers Judy Garland Stéphane Grappelli Buddy Holly Charles Mingus Oscar Peterson Frank Zappa 1998 Bo Diddley The Mills Brothers Roy Orbison Paul Robeson 1999 Johnny Cash Sam Cooke Otis Redding Smokey Robinson Mel Tormé 2000 Harry Belafonte Woody Guthrie John Lee Hooker Mitch Miller Willie Nelson 2001–2010 2001 The Beach Boys Tony Bennett Sammy Davis Jr. Bob Marley The Who 2002 Count Basie Rosemary Clooney Perry Como Al Green Joni Mitchell 2003 Etta James Johnny Mathis Glenn Miller Tito Puente Simon & Garfunkel 2004 Van Cliburn The Funk Brothers Ella Jenkins Sonny Rollins Artie Shaw Doc Watson 2005 Eddy Arnold Art Blakey The Carter Family Morton Gould Janis Joplin Led Zeppelin Jerry Lee Lewis Jelly Roll Morton Pinetop Perkins The Staple Singers 2006 David Bowie Cream Merle Haggard Robert Johnson Jessye Norman Richard Pryor The Weavers 2007 Joan Baez Booker T. & the M.G.'s Maria Callas Ornette Coleman The Doors The Grateful Dead Bob Wills 2008 Burt Bacharach The Band Cab Calloway Doris Day Itzhak Perlman Max Roach Earl Scruggs 2009 Gene Autry The Blind Boys of Alabama The Four Tops Hank Jones Brenda Lee Dean Martin Tom Paxton 2010 Leonard Cohen Bobby Darin David "Honeyboy" Edwards Michael Jackson Loretta Lynn André Previn Clark Terry 2011–2020 2011 Julie Andrews Roy Haynes Juilliard String Quartet The Kingston Trio Dolly Parton Ramones George Beverly Shea 2012 The Allman Brothers Band Glen Campbell Antônio Carlos Jobim George Jones The Memphis Horns Diana Ross Gil Scott-Heron 2013 Glenn Gould Charlie Haden Lightnin' Hopkins Carole King Patti Page Ravi Shankar The Temptations 2014 The Beatles Clifton Chenier The Isley Brothers Kraftwerk Kris Kristofferson Armando Manzanero Maud Powell 2015 Bee Gees Pierre Boulez Buddy Guy George Harrison Flaco Jiménez The Louvin Brothers Wayne Shorter 2016 Ruth Brown Celia Cruz Earth, Wind & Fire Herbie Hanco*ck Jefferson Airplane Linda Ronstadt Run-DMC 2017 Shirley Caesar Ahmad Jamal Charley Pride Jimmie Rodgers Nina Simone Sly Stone The Velvet Underground 2018 Hal Blaine Neil Diamond Emmylou Harris Louis Jordan The Meters Queen Tina Turner 2019 Black Sabbath George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic Billy Eckstine Donny Hathaway Julio Iglesias Sam & Dave Dionne Warwick 2020 Chicago Roberta Flack Isaac Hayes Iggy Pop John Prine Public Enemy Sister Rosetta Tharpe 2021–present 2021 Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five Lionel Hampton Marilyn Horne Salt-N-Pepa Selena Talking Heads 2022 Bonnie Raitt 2023 Bobby McFerrin Nirvana Ma Rainey Slick Rick Nile Rodgers The Supremes Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson vte Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Class of 1986 Performers Chuck Berry James Brown Ray Charles Sam Cooke Fats Domino The Everly Brothers Don Everly, Phil Everly Buddy Holly Jerry Lee Lewis Little Richard Elvis Presley Early influences Robert Johnson Jimmie Rodgers Jimmy Yancey Non-performers (Ahmet Ertegun Award) Alan Freed Sam Phillips Lifetime achievement John Hammond Portals: 1950s Biography Film flag Mississippi icon Pop music Rock music Rhythm and blues icon Television flag Tennessee flag United States Authority control databases Edit this at Wikidata International FAST 2 ISNI 2 VIAF WorldCat National Norway Chile Spain France BnF data Argentina Catalonia Germany Israel Finland Belgium United States Sweden Latvia Japan Czech 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holdersWestgate Las VegasAmerican people who self-identify as being of Cherokee descent Michael Jackson Michael Jackson was a multitalented singer and dancer who enjoyed a chart-topping career both with the Jackson 5 and as a solo artist. By Biography.Com Editors And Colin McEvoyUPDATED: APR 11, 2023 michael jackson file photos by kevin mazur KMazur//Getty Images Jump to: Who Was Michael Jackson? Quick Facts Early Life and Family The Jackson 5 Emerging Solo Career "Thriller" (1982) The Height of Stardom Continued Career Success and Abuse Allegations Career Decline and Criminal Charges Wives and Children Death Memorials and Legacy Quotes 1958-2009 Who Was Michael Jackson? Known as the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson was a best-selling American singer, songwriter, and dancer. As a child, Jackson became the lead singer of his family’s popular Motown group, the Jackson 5. He went on to a solo career of astonishing worldwide success, delivering No. 1 hits from the albums Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad. Thriller remains one of the best-selling albums in history. In his later years, Jackson was dogged by allegations of child molestation. The 13-time Grammy Award winner died in 2009 at age 50 of a drug overdose just before launching a comeback tour. Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below Quick Facts FULL NAME: Michael Joseph Jackson BORN: August 29, 1958 DIED: June 25, 2009 BIRTHPLACE: Gary, Indiana SPOUSES: Lisa Marie Presley (1994-1996) and Debbie Rowe (1996-2000) CHILDREN: Michael “Prince,” Paris, and Prince “Blanket” ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Virgo Early Life and Family a young michael jackson wearing a vest, long sleeve shirt, black pants, and boots, sitting on the ground outside against a tree Michael Jackson, pictured in 1970 as a pre-teen, began his professional singing career at age 5. Getty Images Michael Joseph Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana. He was the eighth of 10 children born to Joseph Jackson, a crane operator, and Katherine Jackson, a homemaker and a devout Jehovah’s Witness. Both of Jackson’s parents previously had musical aspirations themselves: Katherine played clarinet and piano and had aspired to be a country singer, while Joseph was a guitarist who performed in local R&B bands. They encouraged their children to pursue musical ambitions, and Jackson’s career in music began at the age of 5 under his father’s encouragement. Almost all of Jackson’s siblings made marks in the music industry, including Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon, Randy, and Janet Jackson. (His brother Brandon, Marlon’s twin, died shortly after birth.) Joseph pushed his children hard to succeed, making them rehearse five hours a day after school, and was reportedly known to become violent with them. He was said to beat them with a belt buckle or electric kettle cord and to order them to break a branch off a tree if they got a dance step wrong so he could hit them with it. The Jackson 5 tito jackson, marlon jackson, michael jackson, jackie jackson, and jermaine jackson of the jackson 5 sing and dance on stage during a performance, tito and jermaine are playing guitar and michael is holding and singing into a microphone The Jackson 5, seen performing around 1969, included brothers Tito Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Michael Jackson, Jackie Jackson, and Jermaine Jackson. Getty Images Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below Joseph molded his sons into a musical group in the early 1960s that would later become known as the Jackson 5. At first, the Jackson Family group consisted of Jackson’s older brothers Tito, Jermaine, and Jackie. Jackson joined his siblings when he was 5 years old and emerged as the group’s lead vocalist. He showed remarkable range and depth for such a young performer, impressing audiences with his ability to convey complex emotions. They officially became the Jackson 5 when older brother Marlon joined the group. Watch This Is It, the dramatic documentary with rare behind-the-scenes footage of Michael creating and preparing for his sold out shows that would have taken place in London's O2 Arena. Jackson and his brothers spent endless hours rehearsing and polishing their act. At first, the Jackson 5 played local gigs and built a strong following. They recorded one single on their own, “Big Boy,” with the B-side “You’ve Changed,” but the record failed to generate much interest. The group moved on to working as the opening act for R&B artists such as Gladys Knight and The Pips, James Brown, and Sam and Dave. Many of these performers were signed to the legendary Motown record label, and the Jackson 5 eventually caught the attention of Motown founder Berry Gordy. Impressed by the group, Gordy signed the group to his label in early 1969. Jackson and his brothers moved to Los Angeles, where they lived with Gordy and with Diana Ross of the Supremes as they got settled. The Jackson 5 made its first television appearance during the 1969 Miss Black American Pageant, performing a cover of “It’s Your Thing.” Their first album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, hit the charts in December 1969, with the single “I Want You Back” reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart shortly afterward. More chart-topping singles quickly followed, such as “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There.” For several years, Jackson and the Jackson 5 maintained a busy tour and recording schedule, under the supervision of Gordy and his Motown staff. The group became so popular that it even had its own self-titled cartoon show, which ran from 1971 to 1972. Jackson also popularized the “robot dance” after using the move during a 1973 performance of the song “Dancing Machine” on The Mike Douglas Show. Despite the group’s great success, there was trouble brewing behind the scenes. Tensions mounted between Gordy and Joseph over the management of his children’s careers, with the Jacksons wanting more creative control over their material. The group officially severed ties with Motown in 1976, though Jermaine remained with the label to pursue his solo career. Now calling themselves the Jacksons, the group signed a new recording deal with Epic Records. By the release of its third album for the label, Destiny (1978), the brothers had emerged as talented songwriters. Emerging Solo Career michael jackson wearing a purple suit and white shirt, looking off camera, with two women behind him Michael Jackson in 1979 Getty Images WRITTEN BY MICHAEL JACKSON, HIMSELF Moonwalk: A Memoir Moonwalk: A Memoir Now 40% Off $17 AT AMAZON Jackson began his solo career while simultaneously performing with the Jackson 5. He released his debut solo album at age 13 with Got to Be There (1971), making the charts with the title track. He had his first solo No. 1 single with the title track from his sophom*ore album Ben (1972), which he recorded for the 1972 film of the same name about a killer rat. Jackson followed those albums with Music and Me (1973) and Forever, Michael (1975), the latter of which was his last album with Motown Records. As Jackson’s stardom rose, he tried his hand at acting, and the experience left its mark on his music, too. Jackson portrayed the Scarecrow in the Sidney Lumet–directed film The Wiz (1977), starring alongside Diana Ross and Nipsey Russell. While living in New York City to make the film, Jackson frequently visited the Studio 54 nightclub and was exposed to early hip-hop music, which contributed to his beatboxing in future songs like “Working Night and Day.” Jackson achieved his solo career breakthrough with Off the Wall (1979), his first album with Epic Records and his first produced by Quincy Jones, whom he met while working on The Wiz. An infectious blend of pop and funk, Off the Wall featured the Grammy Award–winning single “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough,” along with such hits as “Rock with You,” “She’s Out of My Life,” and the title track. Critics felt the album moved Jackson from the pop music of his youth into a more complex sound, and some have called it one of the best pop albums ever made. Jackson was still performing with his brothers at this time, and the overwhelmingly positive response to Off the Wall helped the Jacksons as a group. Their album Triumph (1980) sold more than 1 million copies, and the brothers went on an extensive tour to support the recording. At the same time, Jackson continued exploring more ways to branch out on his own. In 1983, Jackson embarked on his final tour with his brothers to support the album Victory (1984). Jackson’s duet with Mick Jagger called “State of Shock” was the most successful single from the album. "Thriller" (1982) michael jackson wearing a red coat and white shirt, singing on a stage into a microphone Michael Jackson’s already successful career skyrocketed in the early 1980s after the release of Thriller. Getty Images Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below Jackson achieved unparalleled success with the release of his six solo album Thriller (1982), which as of August 2021 was still recognized by Guinness World Records as the best-selling album of all time, having sold 67 million copies worldwide and 34 million units in the United States alone. The album stayed on the charts for 80 weeks after its release, holding the No. 1 spot for 37 weeks, and generated seven Top 10 hits, including “Thriller,” “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Human Nature,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing).” The album garnered 12 Grammy Award nominations and notched eight wins, both records at the time. Jackson also filmed an elaborate music video was for the album’s title track. Directed by filmmaker John Landis, the 14-minute “Thriller” mini-movie features a horror plot that culminates with Jackson dancing with dozens of zombies in an abandoned city street. Following its debut on MTV on December 2, 1983, it was hailed as one of the greatest music videos of all time and became the first music video to be selected for the National Film Registry in 2009. On a 1983 television special honoring Motown, Jackson performed his No. 1 hit “Billie Jean” and debuted the moonwalk, which became one of his signature moves. The dance step, which R&B musician Jeffrey Daniel had taught him three years earlier, involves the dancer gliding backwards despite bodily actions that suggest forward motion. The much-lauded dance performance further boosted sales for the already-successful Thriller album. The New York Times hailed Jackson as a “musical phenomenon,” writing: “In the world of pop music, there is Michael Jackson and there is everybody else.” preview for Michael Jackson - Mini Biography CLICK TO UNMUTE The Height of Stardom Jackson signed a record-breaking $5 million promotional deal with PepsiCo in November 1983, launching the brand’s youth-targeted New Generation campaign. However, Jackson ended up filing a lawsuit against Pepsi when, during filming of a simulated concert for a commercial, pyrotechnics accidentally set Jackson’s hair on fire, resulting in second- and third-degree burns on his scalp. Jackson had surgery to repair his injuries and is believed to have begun experimenting with plastic surgery around this time. His face, especially his nose, would become dramatically altered in the coming years. Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below In 1985, Jackson showed his altruistic side by working with Lionel Richie to co-write “We Are the World,” a charity single for the non-profit organization USA for Africa. A veritable who’s who of music stars participated in the project, including Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, and Tina Turner. It became one of the top-selling singles of all time and raised, by some accounts, more than $75 million for humanitarian aid to fight poverty in Africa. Five years after Thriller, Jackson released his highly-anticipated follow-up album Bad (1987). Although unable to duplicate the phenomenal sales of Thriller, Bad still reached the top of the charts and became the first album to feature five No. 1 hits with “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Man in the Mirror,” and “Dirty Diana.” Filmmaker Martin Scorsese directed the title track’s music video, which featured a then-unknown Wesley Snipes and involved an elaborate story about delinquent teenagers and gang violence. Jackson spent more than a year on the road, playing concerts to promote the album. In 1988, Jackson bought 2,700 acres of property in Los Olivos, California, for $17 million and had it converted into Neverland Ranch, a home and private amusem*nt park that he owned until 2005. Named after the fantasy island from the Peter Pan story, it included a zoo, train, Ferris wheel, and 50-seat movie theater. Several exotic pets were kept at the ranch, including Jackson’s famous pet chimpanzee Bubbles. Around the late 1980s, rumors began swirling that Jackson was lightening the color of his skin to appear more white and sleeping in a special oxygen chamber to increase his lifespan. In 1993, Jackson agreed to a rare television interview with Oprah Winfrey to quell rumors. He explained that the change in his skin tone was the result of a skin condition known as vitiligo, and he opened up about the abuse he suffered from his father. Continued Career Success and Abuse Allegations michael jackson stands on stage at the super bowl xxxviii halftime show, he wears a black outfit with gold accents and a white sleeve up to his right elbow, behind him are musicians, pyrotechnics and the crowd Michael Jackson performed the Super Bowl XXXVII halftime show in 1993. Getty Images Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below In 1991, Jackson released his eighth solo album Dangerous, his first without Quincy Jones in 16 years. The album marked a different direction for Jackson and mixed various genres, including R&B, funk, gospel, hip-hop, rock, industrial, and classical. It included the hit single “Black or White,” with an accompanying music video directed by Landis and featuring a cameo appearance by child star Macaulay Culkin. The final minutes of the video featured Jackson making sexual gesturing and violently damaging cars and buildings, which drew criticism from some viewers. Jackson issued an apology and edited the video to remove these elements. Jackson’s music continued to enjoy widespread popularity in the following years. In 1993, he performed at several important events, including the halftime show of Superbowl XXVII. However, 1993 also saw the first of several child molestation allegations against Jackson, when a 13-year-old boy claimed that the music star had fondled him. Jackson was known to have sleepovers with boys at his Neverland Ranch, but this was the first public charge of wrongdoing. The police searched the ranch, but said they found no evidence to support the claim. The following year, Jackson settled the case out of court with the boy’s family. In the 2003 television documentary Living with Michael Jackson, British journalist Martin Bashir spent several months with the singer, even getting him to discuss his relationships with children. Jackson admitted that he continued to have children sleep over at his ranch, even after the 1993 allegations and that sometimes he slept with the children in his bed. “Why can’t you share your bed? That’s the most loving thing to do, to share your bed with someone,” Jackson told Bashir. Career Decline and Criminal Charges michael jackson wears blue tinted sunglasses, a black suit and tie, and a neutral expression, he is standing in a crowd Michael Jackson faced many controversies in his life, including a 2005 criminal trial in which he was acquitted of all charges. Getty Images Jackson’s musical career began to decline with the lukewarm reception to HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I (1995). The two-disc album featured a greatest hits compilation on disc one and new material on disc two that included collaborations with Janet Jackson, The Notorious B.I.G., Shaquille O’Neal, and Slash. HIStory was considered Jackson’s most personal album, with lyrics pertaining to his child abuse allegations and anger of his treatment by the media. The record spawned two hits, “You Are Not Alone” and his duet with sister Janet, “Scream.” The spaceship-themed video for the latter song cost a record-setting $7 million to produce and earned a Grammy Award for its slick effects. Another track from the album, “They Don’t Care About Us,” brought Jackson intense criticism for using an anti-Semitic term. Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below In 2001, Jackson released Invincible, his final studio album prior to his death. It cost $30 million to produce, making it the most expensive album ever made. The album touched upon such topics as isolation, social issues, and Jackson’s continued objections to the media. Despite debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, it received mixed reviews from critics. Invincible was released as Jackson was having legal issues with Sony over the rights to his master recordings, which escalated when Jackson called Sony Music Chairman Tommy Mottola a racist who exploits Black artists. By the turn of the century, Jackson was increasingly becoming known for his eccentricities, which included wearing a surgical mask in public. In 2002, Jackson made headlines when he seemed confused and disoriented on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards. In 2002, he received enormous criticism for dangling his baby son Blanket over a balcony while greeting fans in Berlin, Germany. In a later interview, Jackson explained that “We were waiting for thousands of fans down below, and they were chanting they wanted to see my child, so I was kind enough to let them see. I was doing something out of innocence.” In 2003, Jackson encountered more legal woes when he was arrested on charges related to incidents with a 13-year-old boy. He faced 10 counts in total, including lewd conduct with a minor, conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment, and extortion. The resulting 2005 trial was a media circus, with fans, detractors and camera crews surrounding the courthouse. More than 130 people testified, and Jackson’s accuser described via videotape how he had been given wine and molested. However, the jury found problems with his testimony, as well as that of his mother. Jackson was found not guilty of all charges on June 14, 2005. Wives and Children lisa marie presley and michael jackson stand outside, smiling, with both wearing black s***s and hats, and michael jackson making a peace sign with his left hand Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson pose for a photo at the Palace of Versailles on September 5, 1994, in France. Getty Images In August 1994, Jackson announced that he had married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of rock icon Elvis Presley. The union proved to be short-lived, as they divorced in 1996. Some thought that the marriage was a publicity ploy to restore Jackson’s image after child molestation allegations. Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below RELATED STORY Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson Odd Couple: Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson Later in 1996, Jackson wed nurse Debbie Rowe. Jackson and Rowe had two children through artificial insemination: son Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., born in 1997 and known as Prince Jackson, and daughter Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, born in 1998. When Rowe and Jackson divorced in 1999, Michael received full custody of their two children. Jackson would go on to have a third child, Prince Michael Jackson II who went by “Blanket” and now “Bigi,” with an unknown surrogate in 2002. Death several people sit on the ground around michael jackson's star on the hollywood walk of fame, with flowers and candles on the star Fans of Michael Jackson sit vigil at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame following the singer’s death on June 25, 2009, in Los Angeles, California. Getty Images Jackson died on June 25, 2009, at the age of 50, after suffering a cardiac arrest in his Los Angeles home. CPR attempts failed, and he was rushed to the hospital, where he died later that morning. In February 2010, an official coroner’s report revealed Jackson’s cause of death was acute propofol intoxication, or a lethal overdose on a prescription drug co*cktail including the sedatives midazolam, diazepam, and lidocaine. Aided by his personal physician Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson had been taking sedative drugs to help him sleep at night. Murray told police that he believed Jackson had developed a particular addiction to propofol, which Jackson referred to as his “milk.” Murray reportedly administered propofol by IV in the evenings, in 50-milligram dosages, and was attempting to wean the pop star off the drug around the time of his death. A police investigation revealed that Murray was not licensed to prescribe most controlled drugs in the state of California. The steps he took to save Jackson also came under scrutiny, as evidence showed that the standard of care for administering propofol had not been met, and the recommended equipment for patient monitoring, precision dosing, and resuscitation had not been present. As a result, Jackson’s death was ruled a homicide. Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter on November 7, 2011, receiving a four-year maximum prison sentence. Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below In 2013, the Jackson family launched a wrongful death lawsuit against AEG Live, the entertainment company that promoted Jackson’s planned comeback series in 2009. They believed that the company had failed to effectively protect the singer while he was under Murray’s care. Jackson family lawyers sought up to $1.5 billion—an estimation of what Jackson could have earned to that point—but in October 2013, a jury determined that AEG wasn’t responsible for the singer’s death. Memorials and Legacy jermaine jackson, wearing a black suit and yellow tie, sings into a microphone on a stage, with a large photo of michael jackson projected onto the wall behind him, and several flowers and a coffin in front of him Jermaine Jackson speaks at his brother Michael’s public memorial service held at Staples Center on July 7, 2009, in Los Angeles. Getty Images On July 7, 2009, a televised memorial was held for Jackson’s fans at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. While 17,500 free tickets were issued to fans via lottery, an estimated 1 billion viewers watched the memorial on television or online. Jackson’s death resulted in an outpouring of public grief and sympathy. Memorials were erected around the world, including one at the arena where he was set to perform and another at his childhood home in Gary, Indiana. The Jackson family held a private funeral on September 3, 2009, at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, for immediate family members and 200 guests. Celebrity mourners included Jackson’s ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley and actor Elizabeth Taylor. Over the course of his career, Jackson had notched 38 Grammy Award nominations and 13 wins, including Album of the Year for Thriller, Record of the Year for “Beat It,” Song of the Year for “We Are The World,” and his first Grammy in 1980 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance on “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough.” Among his other awards and honors are the 1993 Grammy Legend Award, his 2001 induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and The Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Michael Jackson's This Is It Michael Jackson's This Is It SHOP AT AMAZON A documentary of Jackson’s preparations for his final tour, entitled This Is It, was released in October 2009. The film, which features a compilation of interviews, rehearsals, and backstage footage of its star, made $23 million in its opening weekend and went on to make $261 million worldwide. Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below A handful of posthumous albums were released in the years after Jackson’s death. The first, Michael, was released in December 2010 amid controversy about whether the singer actually performed some of the tracks. Brother Randy was among those who questioned the authenticity of the recordings, but the Jackson estate later refuted the claims, according to The New York Times. The second album, Xscape (2014), featured R&B star and Jackson protege Usher performing the single “Love Never Felt So Good.” The album debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album chart. michael jackson rehearses for his planned shows in london at the staples center on june 23, 2009 in los angeles, california Michael Jackson rehearses for his planned shows in London at the Staples Center on June 23, 2009, in Los Angeles, California. Jackson died two days later at the age of 50. Getty Images Since his death, Jackson has been profiled in multiple biographies and inspired the creation of two Cirque du Soleil shows. He was posthumously honored with the 2018 Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Legacy Award for Humanitarian Service, with children Paris and Prince Michael accepting on his behalf. Jackson’s debts have been settled thanks to his earlier investment in the Sony/ATV Music catalog, which includes the publishing rights for songs of industry heavyweights such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Taylor Swift. The Jackson estate sold its share of Sony/ATV in 2016 for $750 million, and two years later, the estate received another $287.5 million for its stake in EMI Music Publishing. Additionally, Jackson’s earning power lasted well past his final days. In October 2017, Forbes announced that Jackson had topped the publication’s list of top-earning dead celebrities for the fifth straight year, earning $75 million. Accusations of sexual abuse against Jackson resurfaced in early 2019 with the airing of Leaving Neverland at the Sundance Film Festival, followed by an HBO broadcast. The four-hour documentary explores the recollections of two men who describe how the pop star lured them into his orbit when they were boys, gaining the trust of their parents, before coercing them into sexual activities in hotel rooms and at his Neverland Ranch. The Jackson estate called the two accusers “serial perjurers” and launched a $100 million lawsuit against HBO. As of December 2020, the suit planned to go into arbitration. Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below Quotes Being onstage is magic. There’s nothing like it. You feel the energy of everybody who’s out there. You feel it all over your body. Being an entertainer, you just can’t tell who is your friend. Being mobbed hurts. You feel like you’re spaghetti among thousands of hands. They’re just ripping you and pulling your hair. And you feel that any moment you’re gonna just break. I hate to take credit for the songs I’ve written. I feel that somewhere, someplace, it’s been done, and I’m just a courier bringing it into the world. I really believe that. I love what I do. I’m happy at what I do. It’s escapism. Why can’t you share your bed? That’s the most loving thing to do, to share your bed with someone. If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with. I always want to know what makes good performers fall to pieces. My father would rehearse with a belt in his hand. You couldn’t mess up. Magic is easy if you put your heart into it. I wouldn’t be happy doing just one kind of music or label ourselves. I like doing something for everybody... I don’t like our music to be labeled. Labels are like... racism. What I’m asking is whether this is still a country where a peculiar person such as Michael Jackson can get a fair shake and be considered innocent until proven guilty... or is this just a 21st century American barnyard where we all feel free to turn on the moonwalking rooster... and peck it to death? Fact Check: We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn’t look right, contact us! .. Headshot of Biography.com Editors Biography.com Editors Staff Editorial Team and Contributors The Biography.com staff is a team of people-obsessed and news-hungry editors with decades of collective experience. We have worked as daily newspaper reporters, major national magazine editors, and as editors-in-chief of regional media publications. Among our ranks are book authors and award-winning journalists. Our staff also works with freelance writers, researchers, and other contributors to produce the smart, compelling profiles and articles you see on our site. To meet the team, visit our About Us page: https://www.biography.com/about/a43602329/about-us Read full bio Headshot of Colin McEvoy Colin McEvoy Senior News Editor, Biography.com Colin McEvoy joined the Biography.com staff in 2023, and before that had spent 16 years as a journalist, writer, and communications professional. He is the author of two true crime books: Love Me or Else and Fatal Jealousy. He is also an avid film buff, reader, and lover of great stories. Advertisem*nt - Continue Reading Below BLACK HISTORY black and white image of rosa parks Rosa Parks louis armstrong smling while holding his trumpet 11 Notable Artists From The Harlem Renaissance tupac shakur in a white shirt and black vest, with a black bandana on his head Tupac Shakur mitch mcconnell official senate photo Mitch McConnell lorraine hansberry Lorraine Hansberry james baldwin James Baldwin august wilson August Wilson henrietta lacks smiling for a photo with her hands on her hips Henrietta Lacks web du bois W.E.B. Du Bois And Booker T. Washington’s Clash George Washington Carver Photo 7 Facts On George Washington Carver Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston circa 1994 in New York City Whitney Houston And Bobby Brown’s Relationship Whitney Houston Whitney Houston’s Friendship With Robyn Crawford 100 Greatest Artists The Beatles, Eminem and more of the best of the best BY ROLLING STONE DECEMBER 3, 2010 Best Artists of all time 100 Rolling Stone Rolling Stones in London circa 1960s. REX IN 2004 — 50 years after Elvis Presley walked into Sun Studios and cut “That’s All Right” — Rolling Stone celebrated rock & roll’s first half-century in grand style, assembling a panel of 55 top musicians, writers and industry executives (everyone from Keith Richards to ?uestlove of the Roots) and asking them to pick the most influential artists of the rock & roll era. The resulting list of 100 artists, published in two issues of Rolling Stone in 2004 and 2005, and updated in 2011, is a broad survey of rock history, spanning Sixties heroes (the Beatles) and modern insurgents (Eminem), and touching on early pioneers (Chuck Berry) and the bluesmen who made it all possible (Howlin’ Wolf). The essays on these top 100 artists are by their peers: singers, producers and musicians. In these fan testimonials, indie rockers pay tribute to world-beating rappers (Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig on Jay-Z), young pop stars honor stylistic godmothers (Britney Spears on Madonna) and Billy Joel admits that Elton John “kicks my ass on piano.” Rock & roll is now a music with a rich past. But at its best, it is still the sound of forward motion. As you read this book, remember: This is what we have to live up to. OLAF HAJEK 100 Talking Heads By Dave Sitek When I was a kid, I was really into hardcore punk. Hardcore was very rigid. Talking Heads was the first band I remember telling my punk friends about, saying, "Yo, check this out! This four-chord thing we're doing? We're missing out on something!" The first song I really liked was "Once in a Lifetime." MTV had just started to sink its claws into people, and that song was like an anthem for co*ked-up adults trying to make sense of their world. Remain in Light was this combination of ambient music and strong lyrics and incredibly inventive percussion and bass parts. I was a kid, but I still thought, "I should have been involved in that record!" It's amazing. They had so many things going on. If you listen to a Talking Heads bass line, you think the song's going one way, and then you listen to the drums and you think it's going a different way, and then you listen to David Byrne's lyrics and you're like, "This is a completely different song from what I thought it was going to be." And then the guitars come in, and then the ambience comes in — it's like several songs all blending into one. If Talking Heads were around a cool idea, they would make it their own. I feel like they saw Brian Eno, their producer, as another instrument. The town that I grew up in was called Columbia, in Maryland. It was a planned community with man-made lakes. David Byrne's parents lived there for a while. It presented this facade that everything around us is solid and real and going to be here forever, even though we know we created it. Byrne's lyrics spoke to the artifice of the American landscape. The American Dream has a lot of back alleys, and he was showing those things, and I felt like, here's a guy trying to talk to me about something I had seen firsthand. I think the artist's primary responsibility is to reflect what life was like in their time. Talking Heads did that. I'm all over the map emotionally and spiritually, like most people are, so different Talking Heads records speak to me at different times, but with Remain in Light and Fear of Music, the grit of modern living is there. What they're addressing still applies. They weren't always complex, either — there's some stuff where it's just bare-bones essentials. "This Must Be the Place" is probably one of the most important songs in my entire life. I find the lyrics really calming. The song is simple, but when you look at all the elements and how they're put together and where the downbeat is, it's kind of … clever is not even really the word. Genius, maybe? ILLUSTRATION BY SHAWN BARBER 99 Carl Perkins By Tom Petty Carl Perkins' songs will outlive us all. On tracks like "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Honey Don't!" he took that country-picking thing into the rock world. He was an amazing guitar player: If you want to play Fifties rock & roll, you can either play like Chuck Berry, or you can play like Carl Perkins. Considering how important he is to rock history, many people don't know about him. But the right people did. The Beatles covered five of Carl's songs on record. Carl was actually there in the studio when the Beatles cut some of them. Listen to the guitar break in "All My Loving": George Harrison told me that the Beatles would study the B sides of Carl's records to learn everything they could from him. Carl was the real deal — a true rockabilly cat. He told me about picking cotton when he was a kid and learning the blues from an older black field hand he knew. Carl would go home from the fields, be practicing a Roy Acuff country type of thing on his guitar, and then he would start bending the notes. He told me his father would actually get mad, saying, "Play that thing right, boy, or don't play it at all." But it was organic with Carl. He took it to the honky-tonks — the real honky-tonks where people would be drinking out of a jug. It sounds like a cliché now, that rock music was born out of cornfields and honky- tonks, but with Carl it was all true. He didn't get the breaks he deserved; hard luck seemed to follow him around. He had a terrible car crash on the way to The Ed Sullivan Show when "Blue Suede Shoes" was breaking really big. Elvis ended up covering the song and took a lot of the glory there. Some people might not know that Carl played guitar with Johnny Cash for 10 years on the road. At a certain point in the Sixties, things got tough for Carl — he had a drinking problem, which he eventually overcame — and he went back into the lead-guitar business. Carl himself was a very bright guy, and very funny. He once told me, "Tom, I like you so much — if I lived by you, I'd cut your grass." That warmth and wit came through in his music. He was not the kind of guy to blow his own horn; he was very humble. When we did a long stand at the Fillmore in the late Nineties, I talked Carl into sitting in with us. Backstage, Carl was very nervous about coming out with us. He said, "They may not know who I am." I told him, "Carl, they're going to know you and love you." When Carl hit the stage, he just ripped the room apart. Neil Young was there that night, and he was shaking his head. Carl was that good. ILLUSTRATION BY ANDREA VENTURA 98 Curtis Mayfield By Boz Scaggs If, in the late Fifties and early Sixties, you were drawn to that place on the AM radio dial where the rhythms, the grooves and the beautiful sounds of African-American soul were playing, you would have found Curtis Mayfield. Many of us first heard him as backing vocalist in the Impressions behind Jerry Butler, singing "For Your Precious Love." But he really came into focus in Butler's next big hit, "He Will Break Your Heart," which was written by Mayfield and features his strumming electric guitar to a saucy tango beat that you can hear echoing in Ben E. King's "Spanish Harlem." After that he was front and center, singing the lead about a "Gypsy Woman" in an exotic brew of castanets and dark minor chords. At one point, after the lyric "She danced around and round to a guitar melody," he fired off an accent on his guitar that resonated for years for many of us who tried to emulate him — she cast her spell and he followed, with the rest of us close behind. You can clearly hear his influence in the monumental "Little Wing," by Jimi Hendrix. But it was his voice that reached the higher ground. It burned with the abandon of the blues singer and an almost feminine longing, at once powerful and deeply personal. Women responded overwhelmingly to his profoundly respectful and sensitive approach. When he sang "The Wonder of You," the vulnerability and passion got in real close. They knew he knew. At first, he made a gospel-like call to rise up, get on board, get ready. "I know you can make it," he exhorted to soul-stirring harmonizing. He later took the voice of activism, calling out diseases of urban America and challenging people to see what was going on, a plea Marvin Gaye would take up, too. The full range of his powers can be heard in the soundtrack to Superfly. It hits you in waves: driving rhythms with brass and strings countered by down-in-the-alley funk. He was a dynamic performer right up until he was disabled in an accident onstage in New York in 1990. I only met him once, after a show in San Francisco. He was funny, gracious to all, had a beautiful smile and a genuine way about him — a gentle and humble man at heart. ILLUSTRATION BY ANITA KUNZ 97 R.E.M. By Colin Meloy I first heard R.E.M. in 1986, a song tacked on to the end of a demos collection of a Eugene, Oregon, band that my uncle, then in school at U of O, sent to me for Christmas. The song was called "Superman," a bit of meticulously crafted bubblegum that was so simple and honest and funny that my entire nascent library of cassettes (chiefly: Yaz, Scritti Politti and Depeche Mode) seemed to be rendered obsolete in the span of the track's three minutes. I was fully hooked. Little did I know: Becoming enamored with indie bands in Helena, Montana, in the late 1980s was kind of like developing a taste for beluga caviar in rationing-era postwar Britain. By the time Lifes Rich Pageant was gracing the yellow Sony Sports boomboxes of the world, R.E.M. was totally a going concern. The following year brought Document, and that landed them a video on MTV, even. Still, in Helena, being an R.E.M. fan meant being part of a tiny community. A community that, as far as I could tell, consisted of exactly one person. Then Green came around, and suddenly this band was on a major label, playing arenas, and every human in America with two ears and access to radio was being demanded to "Stand." I listened to Chronic Town — procured on a recent family vacation to Los Angeles — on my Walkman backstage during rehearsal for the school production of Guys and Dolls, rehearsing the conversation in my head: "What are you listening to?" they'd ask. "R.E.M.," I'd reply. "Oh — they do that song 'Stand.'" "Yeah," I'd reply casually, "I'm not really into that song — this is their first EP. It's, like, from 1982." It was well-rehearsed, but it never actually happened. I had to suffer the philistines — stealing my band — silently. But still: To be an ardent R.E.M. fan, happy to venture beyond the pale of the radio singles, was a rare thing. Middle school was brutal for me, and I clung to my music like a life raft. Murmur, Reckoning … even Dead Letter Office, with its beer-soaked goofs and discarded B sides, provided a much-needed insulation against the cruel, Queensr che-and-Garth-Brooks-listening world. "When I was young and full of grace/And spirited, a rattlesnake/When I was young and fever fell/My spirit? I will not tell…." However inscrutable Michael Stipe's lyrics were, they always gave language to this weird, agonizing metamorphosis taking place in my head. I was desperately searching for like-minded kids, but with every semester that went by, I felt like my isolation only grew. My parents, at a loss, suggested I get involved in the local community theater's after-school program. I was initially skeptical, but I agreed to give it a shot. As I climbed the stone steps toward the theater's entrance, the doors flew open and out walked a girl I'd never seen before — someone from the high school, maybe — wearing a gauzy sundress and a notable lack of hair spray in her long hair. But the thing that caught my eye: She was wearing a Fables of the Reconstruction T-shirt. I was floored. She smiled shyly — probably more embarrassed at my gaping than anything — and walked by. I'd been given the signal. A wayward fugitive, stumbling through the door of some Provençal cafe, his hat and coat soaking wet from the journey. The customers turn and look, each more untrusting than the next. Till a flash of a badge or the wave of a ribbon can be seen from the farthest table, and he knows: This is it. You're in the resistance now, son. ILLUSTRATION BY DALE STEPHANOS 96 Diana Ross and the Supremes By Antonio "L.A." Reid For almost 30 years — my entire career, really — all I've been doing is trying to discover another Diana Ross. I obviously still have my work cut out for me. She was gorgeous and skinny — and this was back in the Twiggy days, when skinny was new — and she had that big, beautiful hair. And, of course, she was glamorous: I remember all those furs, diamonds and early bling-bling. Everything about her — her mannerisms, her look, her aura — exuded stardom. The Supremes were the epitome of the Motown sound. People look at Ross and say she had great songs, she was a good-looking girl, behind her she had Berry Gordy — who, in my book, is the greatest record man who ever lived — she had all these things. Holland, Dozier and Holland were amazing songwriters, just pure melody men. As we all know now, the unsung heroes were the Motown house band, the Funk Brothers. They could take those great songs and give them sound. "Where Did Our Love Go," "Baby Love," "Come See About Me," "Stop! In the Name of Love," "I Hear a Symphony" — at the time, people thought those songs were disposable. And now we realize that they're true masterpieces. They're so alive. Everything about the songs was great, even the intros — every one of them had a distinctive, memorable intro, which was a hook in and of itself. And, of course, there were two other wonderful singers in the Supremes, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard. But at the end of the day, Diana Ross' voice would come on the air and give you chill bumps. It had such presence, terrific tone, and was so identifiable. She didn't sing like Aretha Franklin — she wasn't a gospel singer — but she was a stylist, and you always believed her. She was captivating, romantic. When she asked, "Where did our love go?" she sounded like she was begging. To this day, I believe that her voice could work on contemporary radio. She set the road map for the success of Janet Jackson, Madonna — anybody who could sing but wasn't a real crooner like Aretha or Patti LaBelle or Gladys Knight. I still ask artists in the studio to "sing this like Diana Ross would." So far, no one has. ILLUSTRATION BY JOSHUA GORCHOV 95 Lynyrd Skynyrd By Al Kooper In 1972, the radio was logjammed with progressive rock like you wouldn't believe — Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis — I was searching for a great three-chord band to produce. And so, that year, I heard Lynyrd Skynyrd making their Atlanta debut at a very dangerous club on Peachtree Street called Funocchio's. They were playing a weeklong engagement, and each night I'd hear another great original song from them and knew I'd found the band I was searching for. As I got to know them, I marveled at their work ethic. They had a shack on the swamp in their native Jacksonville, Florida, where they rehearsed constantly, honing their original material into polished, shining steel. They may have had three guitar players, but they understood restraint. Of all the bands I'd come across in my life, they were the finest arrangers. "Sweet Home Alabama" sounds like seasoned studio musicians twice their age. Ronnie Van Zant was Lynyrd Skynyrd. I don't mean to demean the roles the others played in the group's success, but it never would have happened without him. His lyrics were a big part of it — like Woody Guthrie and Merle Haggard before him, Ronnie knew how to cut to the chase. And Ronnie ran that band with an iron hand. I have never seen such internal discipline in a band. One example: These guys composed all of their guitar solos. Most bands improvised solos each time they performed or recorded. Not them. Ronnie's dream was that they would sound exactly the same every time they took the stage. After three or four albums, Lynyrd Skynyrd transcended the Southern-rock tag. They became one of the greatest rock & roll bands in history. They feared no one. On their very first national tour, they opened for the Who. And got encores! When Ronnie went down in that terrible 1977 plane crash, the forward progress of the band ended. After the survivors all healed, they miraculously reassembled. Ronnie's kid brother Johnny took over, and you had to rub your eyes to make sure it wasn't Ronnie. But while the band could duplicate the majesty of past live shows (and still can), the heart and soul of the band was gone forever. ILLUSTRATION BY N. VETRI 94 Nine Inch Nails By David Bowie When the gods of nasty sounds tacked audition cards to the trees around town encouraging the brutes of industrial rock to brawl for the crown, a small lad with a tuba was probably not what they had in mind for a contender. His name was Michael Trent Reznor, and he also played sax and piano and learned early in life how to engineer a recording-studio console. He produced a terrific debut album called Pretty Hate Machine. Melodically oriented — and, because of record-company contractual problems, supported by what became a three-year tour — it birthed the first real mainstream breakthrough for industrial rock, selling over a million copies. Following Brian Eno's example, Reznor unpacked his synth and threw away the manual. In making The Downward Spiral, he encouraged the computer to misconstrue input, willed it to spew out bloated, misshapen shards of sound that pierced and lacerated the listener. As a companion piece to Baudelaire's "To the Reader" — the preface to his Flowers of Evil — and second to the Velvet Underground, there has never been better soul-lashing in rock. I had a strange dream a few years back. Lou Reed, myself and a friend known as Warren Peace were having dinner in one of those old-style Greenwich Village places where Pollock was supposed to have fought other painters. Our meal was served by one of the members of Einstúrzende Neubauten. I slowly became aware of the house music and that it was infuriatingly familiar. Our waiter, Blixa Bargeld, leaned in to me and whispered, "The music is a birthday surprise for Lou. Trent Reznor remixed this version of Metal Machine Music as a present." As he said this, strands, splodges and blots from a Pollock early-Fifties "drip" painting materialized in front of our faces. While the music got louder, the paint hurtled around us faster and faster till we ran nauseous from the cafe, chased by infernal screaming lavender, blue and black snakes. And that is it, really. Trent's music, built as it is on the history of industrial and mechanical sound experiments, contains a beauty that attracts and repels in equal measure: Nietzsche's "God is dead" to a nightclubbing beat. And always lifted, at the most needy moment, by a tantalizing melody. I cannot believe that Spiral was released nearly 20 years ago now. It still sounds incredible today. And, no, no one ever calls him Mickey. ILLUSTRATION BY JOSEPH ADOLPHE 93 Booker T. and the MGs By Isaac Hayes Booker T. and the MGs had that Southern funk flavor. Motown took care of the North with their polished sound, but the MGs were gritty and raw, and they could really groove. You can hear their sound reverberating throughout the whole industry today — especially since hip-hop guys sample so much of what they did back then. They were an integrated band — half white, half black. There was a "cotton curtain" back in the Sixties: Bands were all segregated in Memphis. But the MGs were like a family. That integration was a sign of things to come. The MGs made a name for themselves with all those great instrumentals, like "Green Onions," but they were the house band at Stax/Volt, so they had real adaptive ability. Otis Redding had his sound, Sam and Dave had theirs, Albert King had his own thing. But it was always Booker T. and the MGs playing. When I did my first sessions at Stax, I learned everything about record production from those guys. In the MGs, Steve Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn were the rock & rollers, but they also had the country thing covered, as well as the blues. Most guitar players like to go crazy, but Steve picked his spots, and when he spoke, it was profound. Duck was a great bass player, and very funny — one of them good old Southern beer-drinking boys. Al Jackson's father was a drummer, so Al had a background of rhythm. Al had a little jazz flavor along with those R&B grooves. You know when I did "Shaft," with those 16th notes on the high-hat? That was actually a break Al played on Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness." That stuck with me. Booker T. pioneered a lot of sounds on the organ. When you heard him play, you knew it couldn't be anyone else. I remember one time, Booker accidentally had two dates booked at the same time, so he took some other band and went somewhere in Kansas, and I went with the MGs to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where I had to go pose as Booker T. Halfway through, some guy yells out, "Hey, man, that guy ain't no Booker T.! He ain't got no hair!" We said, "Oh, s***." But the groove took over, and that calmed them down. ILLUSTRATION BY ANITA KUNZ 92 Guns n’ Roses By Joe Perry Guns n' Roses revived our kind of rock. I remember someone handing me a copy of Appetite for Destruction and saying, "You've got to hear these guys — they're the new big thing." Bands like Bon Jovi and Whitesnake were big then, but Guns n' Roses were different. They dug down a little deeper into rock's roots. I heard a lot of Aerosmith in them, which meant I also heard a lot of bands that came before us. And I remember being a little jealous, because they were really hitting the nail on the head. They opened up for us in 1988, and one of the things that impressed me was how much personality they put across, even when they weren't playing. Axl knew how to work an audience. They used to have to go out there and tape foam rubber around everything that Axl could touch — from his teleprompter to his mic stand — to make sure he wouldn't break anything, or hurt himself. I think people saw that he was basically just let out of the cage. Part of the thrill was wondering what he was going to do next. They were called metal at the time, but they weren't: Metal isn't sexy, but rock is. To put it another way: You can have the rock, but you need the roll. Songs like "Paradise City" and "Welcome to the Jungle" were just simple enough; the chorus lines came right when you wanted them. Slash plays what's needed for the song, as opposed to trying to make the tune a showcase for his technique. Guns n' Roses' music wasn't full of the overblown gymnastics that a lot of guys were doing then — their stuff is just very tasty. Duff McKagan is like the bass player in AC/DC: His parts were fairly simple, but they made the band an unstoppable force. Izzy Stradlin was also important. Guns n' Roses played as a gang, which is just what you want. Guns n' Roses are still an example of how a band can move rock forward. Sometimes you think, "How can you top anything by the Yardbirds, or Zeppelin, or the Stones?" And then you hear Guns n' Roses, and it's inspiring. You can think that it's all been written, but it hasn't. There's another way to twist those three chords around, to make it sound new, fresh and rebellious. JODY HEWGILL 91 Tom Petty By Stevie Nicks In 1976, I'd been in Fleetwood Mac for about a year when I heard Tom Petty's debut. I became a fan right then. I loved the way Tom's Florida swamp-dog voice sounded in cahoots with Mike Campbell's guitar and Benmont Tench's keyboards. Tom had the same influences we had — the Byrds, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills and Nash — but he dropped in lots of serious old blues. And Tom is such a great singer and so charismatic onstage. I became such a fan that if I hadn't been in a band myself, I would have joined that one. When I started doing my first solo album, Bella Donna, my first thought was, "Who produces Tom Petty?" When they said Jimmy Iovine, I got Jimmy, because I wanted my solo work to be as much like Tom's as possible. I first met Tom in the studio, and he was pretty much what I expected. There's not a fake bone in his body. Jimmy and Tom decided to give me "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," which they had written with Campbell. When they showed it to me, I was like, "Is this the right thing to do? I only get 11 songs and one of them won't be mine." And both Tom and Jimmy said to me, in a brutally honest way, "You don't have a single on this record. And here's a single for you." Tom is a great and loyal friend, but he's also honest like that. In 1994, I had just gotten out of rehab, and Tom and I had dinner. I wanted to make a new record but I was scared. I said to him, "Will you help me write a song or two?" I didn't really expect the reaction I got, which was, "No, I won't. You are one of the premier songwriters in this business. Go home and turn off the radio. Don't be influenced by anything. Just write some great songs — that's what you do." He reinforced that I was still Stevie Nicks. I wrote a song about him I've never recorded, but I will someday. It goes, "Sometimes he's my best friend, even when he's not around." In 2006, I did 27 shows with him. Tom made me a little platinum sheriff's badge that had 24-karat gold and diamonds across the top and said "To Our Honorary Heartbreaker, Stevie Nicks." On the back it says "To the Only Girl in Our Band." I keep it on my black velvet top hat. It goes with me everywhere. It's probably the most beautiful piece of jewelry a man has ever given me, ever. ILLUSTRATION BY MARC BURCKHARDT 90 Carlos Santana By Henry Garza of Los Lonely Boys Carlos Santana's music is a family thing for Chicanos. It's what you listen to when you're all hanging out: Drinking some beers, listening to "Oye Como Va" and cooking some barbecue is the best thing in the world. His music hits right to the pump — right to the heart. He's a pioneer of Latin rock & roll: His music was something new, but it was intertwined with everything else that was out there at the time — Sixties rock, Latin jazz and more. We're trying to do the same thing with Los Lonely Boys — make a lot of different types of music into something our own — but he did that first. He incorporated his culture into the music, and he mixed English and Spanish in the lyrics. Everything on a song like "Black Magic Woman" works: the keyboards, the congos, the drums, the vocals. Carlos isn't the lead singer, but he is the maestro. Of course, the best thing about all his albums is his guitar. He's one of the greatest players who ever lived. His guitar has a very distinctive sound — it's like a fingerprint. His tone just bleeds through everything. His playing is both simple and complicated — he can communicate with just one or two notes. He speaks languages through his music that people can understand in any country, any language. Those first three albums — Santana, Abraxas, Santana III — are really special to me. You could hear his ethnicity in his music — even when he's playing like some blues cat, he still sounds like Santana. And his music always has that rhythm. It makes you want to get your girlfriend and go to a dance in your lowrider. Some people were confused after that by his Seventies music, when he became jazzier. But he was just experimenting, learning more. And then his comeback with Supernatural shows how enduring his talent is. Santana has a really good message to send to the human spirit. He once said to us, "You want to be like emissaries of light. When you're up on that stage or when you record, you want to be a tool that light shines through to everybody." You don't want to dwell in darkness. You want to go toward the light. And Santana is the light. ILLUSTRATION BY CHARLES MILLER 89 The Yardbirds By Steven Tyler Listen to "Somebody," a song I wrote for Aerosmith's first album: It's all from the Yardbirds. They were the s*** to us, out of all the British bands in the Sixties. The Yardbirds were a bit of a mystery. They had an eclecticism — the Gregorian chant-ness of the vocals, the melodic diversity, the way they used guitar feedback. I loved that weirdness. In the Sixties, I was in a band called Chain Reaction. We got to know the Yardbirds because they played at Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut, in 1966. We had a friend, Henry Smith, who had been our manager for a while, and he had gone to school there. He called me and said, "Steven, the Yardbirds are playing here, and you can open up." It was the lineup with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, who was playing bass on that tour. We waited all day for them to arrive. I grabbed their amps, they grabbed ours. We carried each other's gear in, because back then, that's what you did. Hence began the rumor that I was a roadie for the Yardbirds. They did "Shapes of Things," "Beck's Boogie," among other songs. I was in such awe. They played like no other band. They weren't concerned with clothes or looks or hit singles. Their thing was "What do we do with these sounds?" They did things with harmonics — minor thirds and fifths — that created this ethereal, monstrous sound. You hear it in every song — the way they could take the blues and turn it into a pop song like "For Your Love," then something psychedelic like "Shapes of Things," which has that weird middle. You can hear the click when Beck hits his fuzz box. Page, in the end, was the one who took those ideas all the way with Led Zeppelin. The two shows I remember where I just sat with my mouth open was that Yardbirds show, and Led Zeppelin at the Boston Tea Party in 1969. As a singer, the thing I got out of the Yardbirds was that you don't have to have a great voice. It's all about attitude. He was a white boy who pushed it to the max. And he was a great harmonica player. You never heard Jagger hanging out on a single note the way Keith Relf could. The shame is, I know how great the Yardbirds were. But I don't think everyone else knows it. The Yardbirds' music is a gold mine waiting to be stumbled upon. Aerosmith did, because we grew up in that era. The riff in "Walk This Way" is just us trying to explore the blues in the Yardbirds model. What the Yardbirds did is something you don't hear in today's blue-plate-special, cookie-cutter music. Everything is so canned and sliced up now. This was back when a band was a band. You had all those personalities, and they were all truly playing together. And I don't hear that today. The day of those bands, that wild stepping out, is gone. OWEN SMITH 88 Jay-Z By Ezra Koenig Somewhere between LOL and FML there was "TRL." MTV's Total Request Live debuted in September 1998. The early TRL charts were dominated by 'N Sync, the Backstreet Boys, Korn and their respective biters. Then, six weeks in, Jay-Z's "Can I Get A … " video debuted at Number 10. It wasn't the beginning of his career as a rapper, but it was the beginning of his career as a major force in pop music. Mainstream radio and TV presented the late-Nineties teenager with a weirdly extreme choice between aggro rock played by men in tank tops and mushy ballads sung by slightly smaller men in tank tops; Jay-Z presented a much-needed alternative. This is not to say that Jay-Z never wore tank tops, but he was (and continues to be) an exceedingly rare combination of intelligence, weirdness, seriousness and pop appeal. Go look back at those TRL charts and it's not hard to tell why a generation of musicians, critics and fans became so deeply connected to the lyrics of a dude who, supposedly, was describing a world that at least 50 percent of his fans "couldn't relate to." In my lifetime, Jay-Z has, by far, been the most artful and exciting musician to consistently make hits, and I mean real hits — Top 10 singles deep into his career, like "Empire State of Mind." How many artists make it 15 years without embarrassing themselves, let alone while maintaining their relevancy? I remember getting chills watching him perform "On to the Next One" at Coachella. He was wearing all black and standing in front of a giant video wall. I interpret that song as both an ode to creative ingenuity and a critique of infinite-growth capitalism. Admittedly, I was reading a lot about peak oil at the time, but c'mon, who else can inspire a crowd of 100,000 to throw their arms in the air while offering each individual brain in that crowd the opportunity to think critically about language and the state of the world today? His lyrics are deep enough to demand exegesis (see: Decoded), at times, cute and playful enough to be memorized by every "mean girl" at my high school (see: his verse on Mariah Carey's "Heartbreaker"). On "Public Service Announcement," he described himself as being like "Che Guevara with bling on." Some people found this to be in bad taste, but it doesn't feel too off the mark to me. At the very least, I don't think anyone will take issue with the next line: "I'm complex." ILLUSTRATION BY N. VETRI 87 Gram Parsons By Keith Richards Like I know the blues, Gram Parsons knew country music — every nuance, every great country song that was ever written. And he could express it all — the music from Nashville and Bakersfield, California, the stuff from Texas — in his singing and songwriting. But he also had intelligence and honesty. That's the kind of guy I like to hang with. Also, he loved to get stoned. At the time, that was an added plus. I first met Gram in 1968, when the Byrds were appearing in London — I think it was a club called Blazes. I knew the Byrds from Mr. Tambourine Man on; the Stones had worked some shows in California with them back then. But when I saw them at Blazes with Gram, I could see this was a radical turn. I went backstage, and we hooked up. Then the Byrds came through London again, on their way to South Africa. I was like, "Man, we don't go there." The sanctions and the embargo were on. So he quit the Byrds, right there and then. Of course, he's got nowhere to stay, so he moved in with me. Basically, we hung around together, like musicians do. We'd spend hours and hours at the piano, swapping ideas. Gram and I both loved the songs of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant — the Everly Brothers stuff they wrote. We both loved that melancholy, high-lonesome s***. We were always looking for the next heart-tugger, looking to pull that extra heartstring. As a songwriter, Gram worked very much like I do, which is to knock out a couple of chords, start to spiel and see how far it can go, rather than sitting around with a piece of paper and a pen, trying to make things fit neatly together. But he would also work very hard — harder than I ever did — on honing it down. Mick and Gram never really clicked, mainly because the Stones are such a tribal thing. At the same time, Mick was listening to what Gram was doing. Mick's got ears. Sometimes, while we were making Exile on Main Street in France, the three of us would be plonking away on Hank Williams songs while waiting for the rest of the band to arrive. Gram had the biggest repertoire of country songs you could imagine. He was never short of a song. The drugs and drinking — he was no better or worse than the rest of us. He just made that one fatal mistake — taking that one hit after he cleaned up, still thinking he could take the same amount. And it was too f***ing much. But he didn't get into dope because of us. He knew his stuff before he met us. I think he was just getting into his stride when he died. His actual output — the number of records he made and sold — was pretty minimal. But his effect on country music is enormous. This is why we're talking about him now. But we can't know what his full impact could have been. If Buddy Holly hadn't gotten on that plane, or Eddie Cochran hadn't turned the wrong corner, think of what stuff we could have looked forward to, and be hearing now. It would be phenomenal. In a way, it's a matter of lost love. Gram was everything you wanted in a singer and a songwriter. He was fun to be around, great to play with as a musician. And that motherf***er could make chicks cry. I have never seen another man who could make hardened old waitresses at the Palomino Club in Los Angeles shed tears the way he did. It was all in the man. I miss him so. ILLUSTRATION BY MARCO VENTURA 86 Tupac Shakur By 50 Cent Every rapper who grew up in the Nineties owes something to Tupac. People either try to emulate him in some way, or they go in a different direction because they didn't like what he did. But whatever you think of him, he definitely developed his own style: He didn't sound like anyone who came before him. My favorite Tupac album is The Don Killuminati. It was recorded after he was shot and spent time in prison. It was like a doctor told him he was going to die, and he was trying to get it all down on paper. That's something the average rapper just could not do: build an entire album around that concept, and stay in that negative space. Everybody knows that they're going to die. But after you're in a life-threatening situation, you think about it a little more. Tupac's aggressive records are my favorite. "Hail Mary" is just perfect: "Picture paragraphs unloaded/Wise words being quoted." Most artists now just aren't smart enough to write that, or honest enough to write a line like, "I ain't a killer but don't push me." These days rappers will just tell you, "I'll kill you." Tupac was like a camera. It's incredible how much he wrote — how much he documented. To me, 'Pac was more of a poet than a rapper. You can always tell when you're hearing Tupac verse. He wrote those lyrics without any music. Notorious B.I.G. was more melody-driven — I'm sure he wrote his s*** without a pen, and over the music — but 'Pac was just hashing out his life. The thing was, he was doing that when the public eye was on him, and everything he was hashing out just expanded, and that's when things got out of control. All of us on the East Coast loved Tupac. The music was all that mattered. That East Coast/West Coast feud was just personal beef. Now that he's not here, he's bigger than ever. I can still listen to two or three Tupac CDs straight. Sometimes I put on Tupac's best songs, followed by Biggie's best songs. Then I get ready to go into my next project. Laurence Fishburne told me once that he didn't like Tupac. He told me it was because Tupac was so much smarter than everyone around him. He said he didn't like the way Tupac behaved because he knew that Tupac knew better. I understood what he meant. But I still gave him a look like he was bugging. ILLUSTRATION BY TIM BOWER 85 Black Sabbath By Dave Navarro Black Sabbath are the Beatles of heavy metal. Anybody who's serious about metal will tell you it all comes down to Sabbath. Any hard-rock band that ever tried to write a crazy twelve-minute operetta owes them a debt. There's a direct line you can draw back from today's metal, through Eighties bands like Iron Maiden, back to Sabbath. All the compelling themes are on Black Sabbath's records: beauty, atrocity, the seven deadly sins. Their music can make you think of walking on the beach with your wife, or of locking yourself in your room with your big toe on the trigger of a shotgun — sometimes within the same song. The title song of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath has all of the stuff I'm talking about: It's rebellious and dark and wicked, but it's also gorgeous. A lot of deep records — like Pink Floyd's The Wall or Nine Inch Nails' The Fragile — are dense, long journeys. Every time you listen to them you hear something new. Sabbath records do that for me, too, but they're simple. When Sabbath wanted to convey a different message, they didn't need to pick up an acoustic guitar or call in the London Philharmonic. They could do pretty much anything with just bass, drums, guitar and vocals. Black Sabbath's rhythm section doesn't get enough props. If you listen to the way that Geezer Butler and Bill Ward play off of each other, that's the core of the heaviness right there. Add to that Ozzy's amazing voice and one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time, Tony Iommi, and it's an unstoppable force. They're a f***ing piece of the mountain coming down behind you, and you can't do anything about it. I was 11 when I first heard Sabbath. Vol. 4 was the album, and it quickly became one of my favorites. At an early age I looked to music to take me out of my reality, and Sabbath does that better than any hard-rock act I know. In Jane's Addiction, we were into a groove that was very repetitive, riff-oriented and hypnotic — similar in a lot of ways to a song like "War Pigs," off of Paranoid (my favorite Sabbath album). And of course, both bands have a singer with a really high-end voice that cuts through all the chaos below. I'm still coming up with stuff that is a complete and blatant rip-off. There's just no escaping them. ILLUSTRATION BY DAN BROWN 84 James Taylor By Art Garfunkel I sing to James Taylor before every show I do. I warm up in my dressing room to "Handy Man," "Sarah Maria," "Song for You Far Away," "Sweet Baby James," "Copperline" and about 20 other favorites. Then I go from James' bass-baritone to tenor singing with the Everly Brothers — first Don, later Phil. While I'm unisoning with James, my reverence rises; my heart and mind become engaged in the sober intelligence of the song and the beauty of the singing. James' accuracy of pitch is like a trader's honesty. To me, it has always been paramount in singing. There is an illuminating love of living things — all of them here on earth — that lies within the tenderness of his line readings (listen to his song "Gaia," from Hourglass). If vocal-cord vibration were like surfing off the swelling of the heart, James would be my favorite rider on the cusp — a little in the air, sublime in the spray. It's no accident that the Beatles' Apple Records signed James Taylor at its inception. He is the finest of us Americans. I know the "folk music" he must have listened to (I, too, had been wand'ring early and late…). I have experienced the thrill of collaborating with him numerous times as we have invited each other into our respective albums. I recall our trio arrangement of "(What a) Wonderful World" with my Paul — we met up at Paul's apartment (of course). It was '77. Two extraordinary artists were giving me the gift of their vocals and guitar parts for my album, Watermark. I must have done something right. What is memorable today is the ease and efficiency with which we three found our harmonies. There was a mutual musical sensibility and a serious mutual respect. James is so fine. His exactitude with the Note is simple, impeccable musicianship. Call it his refinement or the civility of intelligent life. Hear the innate dignity of James' tribute song to Martin Luther King Jr. ("Shed a Little Light"). Some people have a hard time with the self-consciousness of perfectionism. But I think "perfect" is the best review. I hope he reads this tribute of mine and recognizes what a great personal value his existence is to one of his colleagues. And I hope he breaks into another grin from ear to ear as he feels "that's why I'm here." ILLUSTRATION BY PHIL BURKE 83 Eminem By Elton John When Eminem and I did "Stan" at the Grammys in 2001, we got together to rehearse out in the Valley. We had never met or really spoken, so I was a little intimidated. When we started to do the song and Eminem made his entrance, I got goose bumps, the likes of which I have not felt since I first saw Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger, James Brown and Aretha Franklin. Eminem was that good. I just thought, "f***, this man is amazing." There are very few performers who can grab you like that the first time — only the greats. Eminem is a true poet of his time, someone we'll be talking about for decades to come. He tells stories in such a powerful and distinctive way. As a lyricist, he's one of the best ever. Eminem does for his audience what Dylan did for his: He writes how he feels. His anger, vulnerability and humor come out. That's why we look forward to listening to Eminem's lyrics and finding out where the hell he's headed next. Eminem lives, sleeps and breathes music — he's a bit like me in that respect. He's pretty much a recluse. I think he's enthralled with what he's doing; he's intimately involved with his art. There's a mystique about him. From the start, I have always admired Eminem's thinking. That's the reason I wanted to appear on the Grammys with him when I was asked, despite all the nonsense talked about his being hom*ophobic and crap like that. The Boy Georges of the world all got up in a twist about it. If they didn't have the intelligence to see his intelligence, that was their problem. Eminem has the balls to say what he feels and to make offensive things funny. That's very necessary today, when irony is becoming a lost art. Artists like Eminem who use their free speech to get a point across are vitally important. There just aren't many people in the world with balls that big and talent that awesome. CCR82 Creedence Clearwater Revival By Stephen Malkamus My parents had basically nine vinyl albums, all greatest hits: the Beatles' red/blue albums, Carpenters, Neil Diamond, Elton John, the Beach Boys' Endless Summer, Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot … and Creedence Gold. Creedence was the one I took. It has perhaps the Dullest Expensive Album Cover ever, with the foldout profiles of the band members, but it sat proudly next to Devo, Kiss, the Yardbirds, the Stones' early albums (they were cheap), the Decline of Western Civilization soundtrack and the Dead Kennedys' Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables. I was pretty much just into "Suzie Q" and "Born on the Bayou" back then, but I came to appreciate almost everything they ever did. The songs are great. You have swamp-boogie numbers of varying length ("Green River," "Born on the Bayou"), catchy energy bursts ("Fortunate Son," "Sinister Purpose"), pop ("Have You Ever Seen the Rain," et al.) and the soul numbers ("Long As I Can See the Light"). They are all arranged well, have catchy melodies and solid rock lyrics. John Fogerty has an inimitable voice. He puts it to the test over and over — and wins. The rhythm section is rad. You try to play this stuff and you'll see they had chops. The rhythm guitar kicks, too. Fogerty plays what I would if I was 22, more talented and into the blues. The records have their own vibe — performance-based, few overdubs, like if some Memphis/Booker T.-type band moved West and got a youth-culture injection. The focus is on the songs and not the rock star BS that was taking over back then. But they weren't afraid to create a mood. When Cream came out, everybody started a power trio. But basically, "Suzie Q" has all the drama you would ever need. John Fogerty wrote more classic songs in a three-year stretch than anyone other than the Beatles. Thank you, Creedence, for being popular and timeless enough to be on CD jukeboxes. Keep on chooglin'. ILLUSTRATION BY OLAF HAJEK 81 The Drifters By Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller Over the years, the Drifters were a couple of different great groups and a whole bunch of wonderful guys. In a way, that upheaval may be part of the reason they recorded so many immortal songs over such a long period. We were both fans of the Drifters even before we started writing, and later producing, for them. There was a real tradition of great singers in the group: Clyde McPhatter, Johnny Moore, Ben E. King and Rudy Lewis. Yet for all their fantastic records, the Drifters had the least stable lineup of any of the great vocal groups. They were in essence a band of hired guns, overseen by their management. Let's just say this wasn't necessarily a situation where guys were getting rich off the royalties. Our first cut writing for the Drifters was "Ruby Baby," which Nesuhi Ertegun produced and Johnny Moore sang lead on, in 1955. We loved what they did with the song. Their management changed the lineup in 1958, and that's when the great Ben E. King came into the picture. The Drifters records that we're most associated with, including "There Goes My Baby," come from that era. Ben E. King was this younger singer just coming up, yet he had this mature style that was so unusual. He was always wonderful to work with, and we had a truly great run together. People have said that "There Goes My Baby" was a very influential record because it helped set the stage for the Wall of Sound and Motown. Who are we to argue? Thanks to a great arrangement by Stan Applebaum, the song showed us how rock & roll and strings could really work together. When King left, we worked with him as a solo artist, and the Drifters kept on having hits too, first with Rudy Lewis as the new lead singer. Upon Lewis' death, Moore returned to the group in time for "Under the Boardwalk." We wrote songs for the Drifters, but we also put the call out to all the best songwriters in our world. Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman came with perfect songs like "This Magic Moment" and "Save the Last Dance for Me." Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote "Up on the Roof." We also put the Drifters together with Burt Bacharach — who met Dionne Warwick at our office for a Drifters session. Through it all, the Drifters always had this exquisite vocal blend. It was warm and round and full and dripping with chocolate. Since we were involved in the Drifters' career, it's probably not our place to declare their music immortal. But you have to say, they did pretty well. ILLUSTRATION BY ROBERTO PARADA 80 Elvis Costello By Liz Phair Elvis Costello writes novels in three minutes. He gets inside your head, and he doesn't let go. I'd pay a great amount of money to audit a course taught by him. If you love Elvis Costello, it's because you love what he's thinking — the depth and breadth of his notice is astounding. Sometimes I wonder if he watches people on the Strand in London and makes up entire histories for them. ("This person didn't pass the bar and has thyroid problems." "They're jogging because they just went through a breakup.") When I was a teenager, it was a career aim for many of my friends to have a song written about them by Elvis Costello. His songs about women and girls are devastating, like arrows to the heart. There are very few artists who can depict a woman's life, her thoughts and desires and her failings, like he can. Most rock songs about women are from the outside looking in: They say, "Babe, you're so hot, come sleep with me." Elvis' songs say, "I see you, and I know what you're doing." He catches us at our tricks, and that's always thrilling. He's a poet with a punk's heart. There's a Jerry Lee Lewis flavor to the way he just gets in there and lets it rip: His rocking stuff has a lot of raw power, a real physicality. Even when it's just him and a piano onstage, it's powerful. When I first heard him, I was blown away that someone could just spit those words out without even hitting the right notes, with no holding back and no shame. Of course, the Attractions were really important to his music — if you're going to cram a whole book into one song, it helps to have a steady groove. Nobody sounds like him. People imitate Stevie Wonder or whomever, but how many people can do Elvis Costello? Not bloody many. His melodies weave in and out and all over the place, and you can tell they just spring out of him. Finally, Elvis is the definition of a career artist — he's always coming up with a different sound, always challenging himself. All of his music tells you: You could come along for the ride — but I'm not stopping. ILLUSTRATION BY GREGORY MACHESS 79 The Four Tops By Smokey Robinson The Four Tops are a one-in-a-million singing group. They were the best in my neighborhood in Detroit when I was growing up. When I was 11 or so, my first group was an early version of what would become the Miracles. Back then the Four Tops were called the Four Aims. We all used to sing on the corners, at school functions and at house parties. Sometimes we'd have talent competitions. But all the groups in the neighborhood knew that if the Four Aims were going to be there, you were going to be singing for second place at best. They were the first group from the neighborhood that sang modern harmony: They could sing like a gospel group but then do R&B like no one else. I love singers whom you can identify the first second they open their mouth, and Levi Stubbs is one of those; he's one of the greatest of all time. He has that distinctive voice, and his range is staggering. The combination of Levi, Obie Benson, Duke Fakir and Lawrence Payton was truly awesome. When they came to Motown and teamed up with Holland-Dozier-Holland, there was no looking back. They performed some of the most dramatic records ever written: "Standing in the Shadows of Love," "Bernadette," "Reach Out I'll Be There," "I Can't Help Myself" and "Baby I Need Your Loving." Later, when Holland-Dozier-Holland left, I co-wrote "Still Water (Love)" with Frank Wilson for the Four Tops. They were always great singers and great guys. When the Four Tops first came to Motown, the Miracles and I were the mainstays of the label, and the Temptations had just gotten there. But all the guys were very, very close. You'd come back to town from a 51-night tour, and the first thing you did was shower and head back to Hitsville. We'd play cards and shoot pool together into the early hours. The Four Tops will always be one of the best groups ever. Their music is forever. ILLUSTRATION BY TIM BOWER 78 The Stooges By Thurston Moore For me, the Stooges were the perfect embodiment of what music should be — of wanting it to be alive, riding the edge of control. Their music was total high-energy blues, with the contemporary freakout of Jimi Hendrix and the free-jazz spirit of John Coltrane. Iggy wanted the Stooges to be what he'd seen in Chicago as a young guy — these old bluesmen playing so hard that, as Iggy once said, the music drips off you. I was 14 when I first saw a picture of Iggy onstage: shirtless, with his body spray-painted silver. He was sweating — it looked like glitter sweat — and he had a chipped tooth. He looked young and on fire. Iggy's parents were intellectuals — his father was an English teacher — and that gave him an edge. He had focus. Iggy believed what he was doing was important — this self-reliant, anti-establishment art form. The Stooges' sound was so evocative yet so simple. Scott Asheton played drums as if he was in an electric-blues band. On The Stooges and Fun House, while his brother Ron, the guitarist, was playing these loud bar-chord progressions, Scott was making the band rev and swing. And when I played with Ron for the soundtrack of Velvet Goldmine, the first week was a crash course on how to play Stooges songs. We went through those first two albums, and there was that Asheton swing again, the way he rocked the chord grooves. Raw Power was made by a different lineup, with James Williamson on guitar and Ron on bass. It's the ultimate f***-off. This is a band getting very strung out, putting so much blood and soul into what it's doing, and for the most part looked upon as trash. There's a damaged quality to David Bowie's original mix that is way ahead of its time. Seeing the Stooges in reunion with Mike Watt from the Minutemen on bass was awesome. When they played their first gig, in 2003 at Coachella, the first thing Iggy did was start jumping in the air, flipping the bird to the crowd — "f*** you, f*** you and f*** you." Then Iggy turned to the side of the stage, where the elite were standing — Sonic Youth, Queens of the Stone Age, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the other all-access rock stars — and he gave us the jerk-*ff motion. It was great. After all this time, he's still at war. ILLUSTRATION BY ANITA KUNZ 77 Beastie Boys By Darryl "DMC" McDaniels In the early days of rap, the conventional wisdom was that only black people were supposed to like hip-hop and only white people were supposed to like rock. But it wasn't like that. In Run-DMC, we were rapping over rock beats. The Beasties were a punk band listening to hip-hop. I met the Beastie Boys in Rick Rubin's dorm room at NYU. What bugged me out about the Beasties was that they knew everything about hip-hop — the Cold Crush Brothers, the Treacherous Three and Afrika Bambaataa, all the old-school s***. In addition, they could rap, they could sing and they could play instruments. Run-DMC gave "Slow and Low" to the Beastie Boys. The song was basically their blueprint. But then they started writing anita kunztheir own rhymes, and when Licensed to Ill came out, it went to Number One. They were writing songs we wished we had written, like "No Sleep Till Brooklyn." They put rock with rap like we did, but it made so much sense when they did it because they were punk rockers. The first time we toured with the Beastie Boys was the Raising Hell tour in 1986: Run-DMC, Whodini, LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys. We were playing the Deep South — Crunkville, before there was crunk — and it was just black people at those shows. The first night was somewhere in Georgia, and we were thinking, "I hope people don't leave when they see them." But the crowd loved them, because they weren't trying to be black rappers. They rapped about s*** they knew about: skateboarding, going to White Castle, angel dust and television. Real recognizes real. One of the most significant things about the Beasties is their longevity. They've put out genius records for decades. When Paul's Boutique came out, it didn't sell as well as their debut. Now people realize it's one of the best albums of the Eighties. Each of the Beastie Boys has a different personality. Mike D is the examiner: He looks around, he takes in all the information, he's a little laid-back. MCA was always the mature one, but he could be a fool when it was time to be a fool. And Ad-Rock is just full of life. He's approachable, affectionate and funny. But maybe my favorite thing about the Beastie Boys is that they're worldly. They taught me and many other people a lot about life, people and music. ILLUSTRATION BY GARY KELLY 76 The Shirelles By Paul Shaffer The Shirelles had a "sound," a word that people from the Sixties vocal-group era use with a lot of reverence. Shirley Alston Reeves, who did most of the group's lead vocals, wasn't a gospel shouter like Arlene Smith of the Chantels. Shirley was more sentimental and street. When she said, "Baby, it's you," you thought, "Baby, it is me." They weren't the first girl group, but the Shirelles were the first to have many hits. They influenced everyone from the Ronettes and Motown girl groups like the Supremes to the Beatles, who covered "Baby It's You" and "Boys." The Shirelles were given some of the all-time greatest songs to sing: "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "Soldier Boy," "Tonight's the Night," "Mama Said." But what's interesting to me is that they wrote their very first hit, "I Met Him on a Sunday," themselves, when they were still high school students in New Jersey. It was on this song that the group combined doo-wop with very accessible pop melodies: It began with the whole group singing, "Doo ron, day ron, day ron day papa, doo ron," then one of them would sing, "Well, I met him on a Sunday." It was the cutest thing. The girl-group sound was everything to me. As a kid, I used to sit at home after school and just bang out those songs on the piano. Later in life, in the early Nineties, I witnessed a wonderful moment, when the Shirelles were honored by the Rhythm & Blues Foundation. The three living members of the group — Shirley, Beverly Lee and Doris Jackson — were at the awards ceremony. The fourth member, Addie "Micki" Harris, had died in 1982. I had heard that they hadn't seen each other in quite a while, so there was some apprehension when the three of them took the stage. They certainly hadn't planned to perform. But when Doris took her award in hand, she said, "This is dedicated to the one I love," and then they just started singing it. They sounded fantastic. The band fell into place, and people in the audience just fell over. After that, Shirley, Beverly and Doris were having so much fun that they went into "Soldier Boy." This was a group that hadn't sung together in years, but they sounded heavenly. I was so inspired, I stood at attention and saluted. There was nothing else I could do. ILLUSTRATION BY MARK STUTZMAN 75 Eagles By Sheryl Crow The Eagles forever changed country and rock, but I just think of what they did as being great American music. It's amazing how one band could take all those influences — country and rock, of course, but also soul, R&B and folk — and still sound so distinctive. The Eagles were a real band. After an album or two, Don Henley and Glenn Frey turned into one of rock's all-time great songwriting teams. But everyone contributed material and incredible musicianship to the effort: Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon, then Don Felder, and later Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. They started out in the age of the sensitive singer-songwriter, and their music was as smart and sensitive as anyone's, but when they called upon it, they also had the power of a great rock & roll band. The first song of theirs that I vividly remember hearing was "Take It Easy." Those lyrics — by Frey and Jackson Browne — could have been from any Merle Haggard or Willie Nelson song, but the instrumentation and energy were decidedly rock. The combination sounded so powerful. I also remember being on a long cross-country family road trip as a kid, driving across the Texas desert at night. The only radio station we could get was a scratchy AM station from who knows where. The haunting opening strains of "Hotel California" came on the radio. My father thought that all of us kids were asleep; I immediately assumed that he would shut the radio off. But he didn't. He couldn't resist it any more than I could. The Eagles provided the soundtrack to so many of my summers, and likely many of yours, too. Their melodies and harmonies have always been instantly familiar. "Desperado," "Take It to the Limit," "Tequila Sunrise" and "Best of My Love" are some of the best pop songs ever written. To this day, it simply doesn't get any better than that guitar riff from "Life in the Fast Lane." When I sang backup for Don Henley in the early Nineties, it was a surreal experience, supplying vocals every night to Eagles songs. The audience's reaction to those classics cemented their value in my head. In my own way, I got to experience the power of the Eagles' music. But then again, we all have. ILLUSTRATION BY MARC BURCKHARDT 74 Hank Williams By Beck Hank Williams songs like "Lonesome Whistle" and "Your Cheatin' Heart" are wonderful to sing because there is no bulls*** in them. The words, the melodies and the sentiment are all there, clear and true. It takes economy and simplicity to get to an idea or emotion in a song, and there's no better example of that than Hank Williams. Hank had a voice that split wood. From his records, it sounded like he was projecting from a completely different place in his body. It was a voice that could play roadhouses without amplification, that could cut through barroom crowds. The places he played were so tough that he hired a wrestler, Cannonball Nichols, to be his bass player. Hank lived what would have been a rock star's life — full of touring, drinking and woman troubles. I bought a 10-song Hank Williams collection on vinyl for $4.99. It was like I unlocked a box: His music spoke to me. His records are enormously important to country music, but I think I responded to them because they sounded so exotic. It's significant that Hank learned to play guitar from an elderly black musician: Hank is the ultimate hillbilly, but there's other stuff going on. For a while he was my only reference point; I've covered his songs for years. On Sea Change, I made a conscious effort to try to write songs as direct as Hank's. I see more and more people getting into his music today. When I played his songs early on, I used to get really sick of everyone in the crowd yelling "yee-haw" all the way through. But I've noticed that there's been a rediscovery of the haunting quality of Hank Williams' music. People are listening. ILLUSTRATION BY ANDREA VENTURA 73 Radiohead By Dave Matthews Every time I buy a Radiohead album, I have a moment where I say to myself, "Maybe this is the one that will suck." But it never does. I wonder if it's even possible for them to be bad on record. It belittles Radiohead to describe their music as having "hooks." Their music talks to you, in a real way. It can take you down a quiet street before it drops a beautiful musical bomb on you. It can build to where you think the whole thing will crumble beneath its own weight — and then Thom Yorke will sing some melody that just cuts your heart out of your chest. There's a point on the album Kid A where I start feeling claustrophobic, stuck in a barbed-wire jungle — and then I suddenly fall out and I'm sitting by a pool with birds singing. Radiohead can do all of these things in a moment, and it drives me f***ing crazy. My reaction to Radiohead isn't as simple as jealousy. Jealousy just burns; Radiohead infuriate me. But if it were only that, I wouldn't go back and listen to those records again and again. Listening to Radiohead makes me feel like I'm a Salieri to their Mozart. Yorke's lyrics make me want to give up. I could never in my wildest dreams find something as beautiful as they find for a single song — let alone album after album. And every time, they raise their finger to the press and the critics and say, "Nothing we do is for you!" They followed their most critically acclaimed record, OK Computer, with their most radical change, Kid A. It's not that they're indifferent — it's that the strength of character in their music is beyond their control. Seeing them perform makes me even angrier. No matter how much they let go in their shows, they never lose their clarity. There's no point where Jonny Greenwood or Ed O'Brien will suddenly look up and say, "Where the f*** are we?" There are no train wrecks in Radiohead; every album and performance is wrenching. God, these guys have suffered, or they can fake it like nobody else. ILLUSTRATION BY CHRISTOPHER KASCH 72 AC/DC By Rick Rubin When I was in junior high, my classmates all liked Led Zeppelin. But I loved AC/DC. I got turned on to them when I heard them play "Problem Child" on The Midnight Special. Like Zeppelin, they were rooted in American R&B, but AC/DC took it to a minimal extreme that had never been heard before. Of course, I didn't know that back then. I only knew that they sounded better than any other band. For AC/DC, rock began with Chuck Berry and ended around Elvis. They poured their lifeblood into that groove, and they mastered it. Highway to Hell is probably the most natural-sounding rock record I've ever heard. There's so little adornment. Nothing gets in the way of the push-and-pull between the guitarists Angus and Malcolm Young, bassist Cliff Williams and drummer Phil Rudd. For me, it's the embodiment of rock & roll. When I'm producing a rock band, I try to create albums that sound as powerful as Highway to Hell. Whether it's the Cult or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I apply the same basic formula: Keep it sparse. Make the guitar parts more rhythmic. It sounds simple, but what AC/DC did is almost impossible to duplicate. A great band like Metallica could play an AC/DC song note for note, and they still wouldn't capture the tension and release that drive the music. There's nothing like it. The other thing that separates AC/DC as a hard-rock band is that you can dance to their music. They didn't play funk, but everything they played was funky. And that beat could really get a crowd going. I first saw them play in 1979 at Madison Square Garden, before their singer Bon Scott died and was replaced by Brian Johnson. The crowd yanked all the chairs off the floor and piled them into a pyramid in front of the stage. It was a tribute to how great they were. I'll go on record as saying they're the greatest rock & roll band of all time. They didn't write emotional lyrics. They didn't play emotional songs. The emotion is all in that groove. And that groove is timeless. ILLUSTRATION BY OWEN SMITH 71 Frank Zappa By Trey Anastasio In the early years of Phish, people often said we were like "Frank Zappa meets the Grateful Dead" — which sounds very bizarre. But Zappa was incredibly vital to me, as a composer and guitarist. I think he was the best electric-guitar player, other than Jimi Hendrix. Zappa conceptualized the instrument in a completely different way, rhythmically and sonically. Every boundary that was possible on the guitar was examined by him. I'll never forget the first time I saw him live, in New York, when I was in high school. He would leave his guitar on a stand as he conducted the band. And he would not pick up the guitar until everything was totally together. There would be this moment — this collective breath from the audience — as he walked over, picked it up and started playing the most ripping, beautiful solo. When he played, he was in communion with the instrument. I also saw Zappa at Memorial Auditorium in Burlington, Vermont, on his last tour, in 1988. He did this guitar solo in "City of Tiny Lites" where everybody in the band dropped out except drummer Chad Wackerman. I was in the balcony near the side of the stage. When Zappa turned his back on the audience to play with Chad, I saw this huge smile on his face. But this was also the guy who did 87orchestral pieces like The Yellow Shark. It's hard to believe somebody could do so many different things. Zappa was a huge influence on how I wrote music for Phish. Songs like "You Enjoy Myself" and "Split Open and Melt" were completely charted out because he had shown me it was possible. And when I played at Bonnaroo with my 10-piece band, we did two covers, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and "Sultans of Swing." In both songs, I had the horn section play the guitar solos, note for note. I never would have thought of doing that if I hadn't seen Zappa do "Stairway to Heaven" in Burlington with the horns playing Jimmy Page's entire guitar solo, in harmony. There is a whole generation of musicians coming up who can't play their instruments. Because of stuff like Pro Tools, they figure they can fix it all in the studio. With Frank, his musicians were pushed to the absolute brink. Phish tried hard to do that too: to take our four little instruments and do as much as we could with them. I would not have envisioned that without him. Zappa gave me the faith that anything in music was possible. He demystified the whole thing for my generation: "Look, these are just instruments. Find out what the range is, and start writing." ILLUSTRATION BY TIM O'BRIEN 70 The Police By Brandon Flowers Oscar Wilde said that an artist has succeeded if people don't understand his work but they still like it. By that standard, the Police were a huge success. Their songs are universal — they're part of all of our lives. You hear them on both pop and classic-rock stations, and they'll be played on the radio in Germany 100 years from now. At the same time, everything they did was really smart and worked on a few levels; you could love a particular song, then realize a year later that you had totally missed the meaning. Take "Every Breath You Take." It's a great trick — it's impossibly catchy, people play it at their weddings, but it's a stalker song. "Roxanne" is blatantly about a hooker — it's not about how Sting loves her and broke her heart, it's just about how she's a hooker. People don't realize how unique that is. All of us are lucky to have heard songs as good as "Message in a Bottle," "Walking on the Moon" and "King of Pain" on the radio. Sting already had a career and a degree when the Police made it; he wasn't afraid of sounding like a grown-up. My favorite is "Don't Stand So Close to Me," the one about the teacher and the young girl. That kind of storytelling has fallen out of pop music, for the most part. "Don't Stand" would be great to listen to no matter what the lyrics were — it could have just been about some girl — but the story makes it spooky and powerful. My favorite line is "Wet bus stop/She's waiting/His car is warm and dry" — he communicates the entire song with those 11 words. Of course, the Police were amazing musicians. They were professionals who came up during the punk era and found their messages later on. I'm a big fan of how they used reggae. Bands like the Clash had already mixed it with punk, but the Police did it flat-out — it was like reggae for music geeks. Sting played bass and sang, which you don't see very often. He commanded both the rhythm section and melodies in the band. Stewart Copeland is a great drummer — you have to be to give songs like "Roxanne" and "So Lonely" their drive and also throw that reggae in there. Andy Summers has both great technique and rhythmic sense. It's amazing how many rock bands with serious grooves are made up of skinny English dudes. The Police matured really quickly. All bands should pay attention to that. You should always try to keep moving forward. ILLUSTRATION BY CHARLES MILLER 69 Jackie Wilson By Peter Wolf Jackie Wilson was key in helping bridge the gap between an old-style R&B and a new incarnation of soul. Even Elvis Presley knew why Wilson was called "Mr. Excitement": I heard that seeing Wilson perform made the King want to hide under the table. The most spectacular Jackie Wilson show I ever saw was at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater, around 1960. When he took the stage, adorned in a magnificent white suit, he spread his arms open wide, as if trying to embrace the entire room. He started singing the opening notes of his song "Doggin' Around." The audience broke into screams. Even the way he casually held his hands while singing was hypnotic. His dancing was spellbinding — twists and splits that left me in total disbelief. Quickly soaked in sweat (nobody knew how to sweat as good as Jackie Wilson), he took off his jacket and pretended he was going to throw it to the crowd, creating a pure sexual enchantment. There were real women in that audience who knew what they wanted. And what they wanted was Jackie Wilson. He seemed destined for such greatness, and yet his life ended up playing itself out like some cheap B-grade film noir. There was violence — a crazed woman once shot him — as well as tax problems, drugs, divorce and mob associations that made demands he couldn't refuse. While performing at the Latin Casino, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, he had a massive coronary and hit his head hard as he fell. At the hospital, he lapsed into a coma. He remained in that state for eight years, as the people around him fought over his estate, before he died in 1984. I had the honor of inducting Jackie Wilson into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As I waited backstage to present my speech, I was approached by three women arguing with one another as to who should be the one to go onstage and claim the award that was to be given to Jackie. Mr. Excitement would still not have peace. ILLUSTRATION BY ANITA KUNZ 68 The Temptations By Rod Stewart I was on holiday with my parents in the late Sixties when I heard "I Wish It Would Rain." I lived in England, where it f***ing rains all the time, so it was appropriate. But that's also when I fell in love with David Ruffin's tenor — it jumped out of the speakers and ravished my soul. Whether it was Ruffin or Dennis Edwards or Eddie Kendricks or Paul Williams singing lead, the Tempts were always an all-star vocal band. Throughout the Sixties and Seventies, the Tempts had an unprecedented string of hits: "My Girl," "The Way You Do the Things You Do," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," "Just My Imagination." Later on, they broke ground with the psychedelic soul of "Cloud Nine." I remember listening to the high-hat rhythms on that record over and over with the guys in the Jeff Beck Group. We'd try to change every one of our songs to try and capture their drumbeats. When I got home from holiday, I immediately bought Wish It Would Rain. At that time I was very much into folk music and turning the corner into R&B, and I'll never forget seeing that cover, with all the Tempts dressed as Foreign Legionnaires, sitting in the desert. Their outfits were wonderful — I blame them for teaching me to wear loud colors. They also came up with the cutting-edge dance routines. Nobody moved like the Tempts. I'd later become friends with David Ruffin — when our bands would play in Detroit, Ruffin would come to every show and we'd sing "(I Know) I'm Losing You," a Temptations cover off my album Every Picture Tells a Story. His voice was so powerful — like a foghorn on the Queen Mary. He was so loud. My children grew up loving the Temptations, and we tried to see them every time they came to town. They would always pick me out of the audience with a spotlight, trying to get me up to the stage. But I never did. I'm too frightened. ILLUSTRATION BY MARK GAGNON 67 Cream By Roger Waters I was in my third year of classes at a place in London called the Regent Street Polytechnic School of Architecture, which is where I met Nick Mason and Rick Wright. At the end of each term we would have a show, and this time we had Cream — in a small hall where I had once played Happy Loman in Death of a Salesman, which is beside the point. The curtain drew back and the three of them started playing "Crossroads." I had never seen or heard anything like it before. I was simply staggered by the amount of equipment they had: by Ginger Baker's double bass drum, by Jack Bruce's two 4-by-12 Marshall amps and by all of Eric Clapton's gear. It was an astounding sight and an explosive sound. Two-thirds of the way through their set, one of them said, "We'd like to invite a friend of ours from America out onstage." It was Jimi Hendrix, and that was the first night he played in England. He came on and did all that now-famous stuff, like playing with his teeth. That ticket cost about a pound or so. It might have been the best purchase I ever made. After that, Pink Floyd started to go professional, and we would run into Cream on the road. They affected so many people. Jimmy Page must have looked at Cream and thought, "f*** me, I think I'll do that," and then put together Led Zeppelin. Along with the Beatles, they gave those of us entering the business at that time something to aspire to that wasn't pop but was still popular. I remember Ginger Baker was insane back then, and I'm sure he still is. He hit the drums harder than anyone I've ever seen, with the possible exception of Keith Moon. And Ginger hit them in a rhythmic style all his own that was extraordinary. Eric Clapton we don't have to talk about — it's obvious how amazing he is. Then there's Jack Bruce — probably the most musically gifted bass player who's ever been. Cream were very innovative within the context of all the music coming from the West Coast of the U.S. at that time, from bands like the Doors and Love. Apart from being a great blues band, Cream had a real good go at so many other styles, even if some of it sounds a little silly now. There are songs on all the Cream albums that amaze me still, like "Crossroads," "Sunshine of Your Love," "White Room" and "I Feel Free." They were desperately trying to write material that was truly progressive and original. And they achieved that. ILLUSTRATION BY BRALDT BRALDS 66 Al Green By Justin Timberlake Al Green has helped overpopulate the world. He's got some serious babymaking music. But what makes him such an inspiration is the raw passion, the sincerity and the joy he brings to his music. People are born to do certain things, and Al was born to make us smile. You hear his voice and it lights everything up. Every time one of his songs starts playing — whether it's "You Ought to Be With Me," "I'm Still in Love With You," "Love and Happiness" or, of course, "Let's Stay Together" — when the stomp starts and the guitar comes in, you know you're in for something full of sweet love. His songs weren't as political as Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway. But if those guys were speaking to you, Al Green was speaking for you. Al Green's voice will always remind me of driving the back roads of Memphis with my parents, listening to cassette tapes. Hearing Al as a kid made me want to become a singer and showed me that it was OK to have a softer, more falsetto voice. I really related to that, because I never had a big, boisterous, American Idol showstopping voice. Al, he was a crooner. The way he would squeeze out a note can't be trained and can't be imitated. Behind him was this incredible band. On songs like "Tired of Being Alone," the horns are tasteful and restrained but completely funky. I always loved the way the mistakes were kept in on his albums, like the way the band is almost out of sync at the beginning of "Love and Happiness." Even his messes are beautiful. Eventually I found out this man I idolized lived five minutes from me in my hometown. Then, years later, I went to the White House (back when Clinton was in office), and Al was there performing. He sang Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," and the audience wept. After I released my first solo album, I was doing a TV special in Memphis, and I called him and asked if he'd grace us with his presence. We sang "Let's Stay Together" on that stage, and it was a milestone in my short, unimportant career. I learned something incredible: Everything always has to be about the show. But Al Green is the show, and when you watch him perform, you see something honest and soulful and amazing. ILLUSTRATION BY CHRISTOPHER KASCH 65 The Kinks By Peter Buck I've got pretty much every note the Kinks recorded on my iPod — certainly everything through 1980. And it all sounds good. The Kinks are the only major band from the Sixties I can think of that didn't go psychedelic, didn't do any of that crap that all of the other big bands did at the time. When everyone was writing song cycles about Eastern mysticism, Ray Davies was writing about a two-up/two-down flat in some English suburb. Ray wrote songs about the things that were important to him. He invented his world and gave it life. And in that world, people weren't wearing Nehru jackets, smoking pot and jamming for 24 hours a day. The Kinks created a different world — and I'm glad they did it. When I first heard Village Green Preservation Society, in 1971, I got this picture in my head of small-town English life: village greens, draft beer. But when R.E.M. went to England in 1985, I drove through Muswell Hill — and it certainly wasn't romantic-looking. I had this picture of a gorgeous vista — when it's really a kind of grimy area. I realized these songs were all acts of imagination, that Ray was commemorating an England that was slipping away. There is a great air of sadness in those songs. I am amazed at how great the Kinks' records sounded — even though, when you listen closely, there is very little going on in them. Village Green is the best example: Unlike a lot of records of its time, it's not stuffed with a ton of instruments. And yet the songs are perfectly realized, well arranged. Ray wrote "You Really Got Me" on piano. Then he gives it to his brother Dave, this teenage maniac, who turns it into a demented guitar part. I read that an interviewer once asked Dave if he thought the Kinks had gone heavy metal in the Eighties. He said, "It wasn't called heavy metal when I invented it." When R.E.M. started out, Dave's solo on that song was the only solo I knew how to play. So whenever I had to do a solo, I would just play that. The Kinks slipped into rock history through the back door. All of those great albums that we talk about now, like Face to Face, Something Else by the Kinks and Village Green — nobody bought those records in the Sixties. But those of us who love those records — and a lot of us are musicians — have loved them for decades. ILLUSTRATION BY ROB DAY 64 Phil Spector By Jerry Wexler There are three kinds of record producers. The first kind is the documentarian — someone like Leonard Chess, who goes into a bar on the South Side of Chicago, sees Muddy Waters with a six-piece combo, then pulls him into the studio the next day and says, "Play what you played last night." The second is the type who serves the artist; I would be so brash as to include myself in that category, along with John Hammond, Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun, and Bob Thiele — music fans who try to develop great singers. Then there's the producer who does it all. Phil Spector could be the greatest of these. For Spector, the song and the recording were one thing, and they existed in his brain. When he went into the studio, it came out of him, like Minerva coming out of Jupiter's head. Every instrument had its role to play, and it was all prefigured. The singer was just one tile in this intaglio. Songs such as the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" had wonderful singers, but they were tiles. Phil would get the track ready, then call upon the artist and say, "OK, now sing." There were songwriter-producers before him, but no one did the whole thing like Phil. When I first met him, he was very young, sleeping on the couch at the Atlantic Records offices and using the switchboard after hours. He was brash, co*cky and talented. I remember that if I would vouchsafe an opinion about something when we were together in the studio — a snare drum on a bridge of a song, or whatever — Phil would say, "Oh, man, I came here from California to make hits." It meant, "Shut the f*** up and get out of my face." But like Dizzy Dean used to say, "If you can do it, it ain't bragging," and Phil can do it: play piano and guitar, compose and produce. His music is impeccable. Where it comes from, I don't know. ILLUSTRATION BY JODY HEWGILL 63 Tina Turner By Janet Jackson Tina Turner has become more than just a musical superstar and sex symbol, though she is definitely both of those things. For me — and I imagine for millions of others — Tina now stands as an enduring symbol of survival and of grace. Her music is a healing thing. Remember that famous introduction to "Proud Mary," when Tina talks about liking things "nice and … rough"? We all know that she faced some rough times in her life. But the reality is that life never threw her anything that she couldn't handle. One of Tina's big hits is called "We Don't Need Another Hero." Yet Tina has become a heroic figure for many people because of her tremendous strength. Tina doesn't seem to have a beginning or an end. I felt her music was always there, and I feel like it always will be. The story of Tina's rise and fall with Ike Turner is well-known. You can see what it was like in the movie What's Love Got to Do With It. But I believe it's time to put the Ike story to rest. The truth is that when Tina came back in the Eighties, she became much bigger than she was the first time around. Tina's story is not one of victimhood but one of incredible triumph. In the beginning, Tina's music was based on hard times and harsh realities. Think about a song like "Nutbush City Limits." That was her story. But over the years, her story changed, and her music reflected those changes beautifully. Tina has the ability to dream, get out, get over and get on with it. She's transformed herself into an international sensation — an elegant powerhouse. But wherever she may be, whether it's in Spain, Asia or Egypt, she's never forgotten her humble beginnings. Tina Turner knows who she is, and to this day, she remains one of the true greats. In every sense, the woman has legs. ILLUSTRATION BY GERARD DUBOIS 62 Joni Mitchell By Jewel Joni Mitchell is a bigger icon than she is a star. Bob Dylan and Keith Richards became so famous that they're stars and icons. Joni is still unknown to lots of people. The impact she had wasn't flashy. But she influenced people who became stars. I remember a friend in high school playing me "A Case of You," from Blue. I could tell that Joni was a painter by the way she wrote lyrics. She describes smells and sounds and uses fewer words to transmit more feeling. Her melodies are about shapes. The singing lines are slow, steep plateaus. One of the things I learned from Joni: If you can tell the story and keep things moving, you don't need to return to the chorus on time. What she writes is closer to journalism: On Blue, you hear everything she experienced, the highs and the lows. It's such a lonely album — not in the "I don't have any friends" sense but in the sense that you're a little bit removed, and always watching. It takes a lot of courage to be that honest, especially as a woman. When she did it, it was a fluffy time — pretty girls singing about pretty things. Joni had an edginess that not many women expressed then. Joni Mitchell never made a big deal out of being a woman. She had such a strong sexuality, but she didn't feel the need to deny that part of her in order to be taken seriously. She also didn't play it up — although many of her songs are about sex. I met her at a Vanity Fair photo shoot. Stevie Wonder introduced us. He took my hand — I guess I led him to her — and he said, "Joni, I'd like you to meet Jewel." I just shook her hand and tried to swallow. I didn't have anything to say to her. Her influence on me is so obvious. I hope she can hear it. NATHAN FOX 61 Metallica By Flea In 1984, I was on tour with my band, somewhere in the middle of America. It was around 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. We're all crammed into our van, with all our equipment. It was raining. We were tired, we'd been on the road. And this music comes on the radio. I couldn't believe that it existed. My mind was being blown by this beautiful violence that was unlike anything I'd ever heard before. It wasn't punk rock. It wasn't heavy metal. It was precise and explosive and heavy. It was aggressive and intense, and it had these really wild and bizarre rhythm changes. But it still held together as a bitchin'-ass song. I was singin' along with it by the end, though it certainly wasn't using any conventional pop-song pattern that I had ever heard. That song was "Fight Fire With Fire." And it opened up my mind to the mighty force of nature that is Metallica. When Metallica started in 1981, they didn't really take your typical path to success. I don't know if massive stardom and selling a zillion records were on their minds when they were getting the ball rolling. But if they were aiming at becoming one of the most successful rock bands of all time, they sure were going about it in a kooky way. Maybe they were thinking they were going to break into Casey Kasem's Top 40 countdown with their debut record, Kill 'Em All. They were definitely going for a hit single with the song "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth." A five-minute-long bass solo is a sure ticket to commercial success. That song is one of the great moments in rock history for the electric bass guitar. Every Cliff Burton-based solo I've ever heard is a soulful, psychedelic, headbanging expression that rocks your world, trips your brain out and gets the house rockin'. It's a beautiful piece of music played by an awesome rocker of a young man who was a masterpiece of a human being. I can never listen to any Metallica record without thinking of him. It is clear that the gift he gave lives on in that band's music. The fact that Metallica connected with the world in the way that they have is phenomenal. They have become a household name with music that is anything but mainstream. It's outsider music. And for it to do what it has done is truly mind-blowing. When I hear Metallica, I get this feeling that they're doing something that they have to do. There is this thing in them wound up so tight that they have to let it out, let that thing uncoil; it has to be released. An infinite well of sadness, a hell of a lot of pain and anger, but mostly, a lot of love for the process of releasing this stuff. For the people who give it up and get rocked by Metallica, the world is a less lonely place. When a person gets rocking to their music, everything else disappears, and that person is just one with the rock. It is an inexplicable, awesome thing, and I bow down to it. Pain and hurt can be a muse for great art. It's one of the greatest rites of passage for any artist, and it's something that touches us most deeply. Anyone who has ever been to a Metallica show, and banged their head, and thrown up the devil horns, has been a part of something great. Rocking so hard to the brutal beat of Metallica for those couple of hours, in a way, is as healthy as any spiritual exercise — group meditation, any love-in, anything. Metallica's career is a huge, dynamic thing, and they have done it all. They have worked their way up from nothing, and written the jams that rocked the world. Metallica are f***ing rad! The music is bitchin'! It is unbelievable! And they continue to rock on. Whatever gets thrown at them, they persevere and they get stronger; they are a family. And they are as intense and inventive as ever. ILLUSTRATION BY ROBERTO PARADA 60 The Sex Pistols By Billie Joe Armstrong The Sex Pistols released just one album — Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols — but it punched a huge hole in everything that was bulls*** about rock music, and everything that was going wrong with the world, too. No one else has had that kind of impact with one album. You can hear their influence everywhere from Joy Division to Guns n' Roses to Public Enemy to the Smiths to Slayer. Never Mind the Bollocks is the root of everything that goes on at modern-rock radio. It's just an amazing thing that no one's been able to live up to. It's a myth that these guys couldn't play their instruments. Steve Jones is one of the best guitarists of all time, as far as I'm concerned — he taught me how a Gibson should sound. Paul Cook was an amazing drummer with a distinct sound, right up there with Keith Moon or Charlie Watts. There are bands out there still trying to sound like the Sex Pistols and can't, because they were great players. The difference between John Lydon and a lot of other punk singers is that they can only emulate what he was doing naturally. There was nothing about him that was contrived. As far as the bass player goes, I don't think it was necessarily a mistake to replace Glen Matlock with Sid Vicious. Matlock was cool, but Sid was everything that's cool about punk rock: a skinny rocker who had a ton of attitude, sort of an Elvis, James Dean kind of guy. That said, there's nothing romantic about being addicted to heroin. He was capable of playing his instrument, but he was too f***ed up to do it. The things that Lydon wrote about back in '76 and '77 are totally relevant to what's going on right now. They paint an ugly picture. No one ever had the guts to say what they said. The only person who did anything similar to it was Bob Dylan, and even Bob Dylan was never that blunt. When I first heard them, I was 14 or 15 and into a lot of heavy-metal and hard-rock music. I think I was at a girl's house. I remember hearing those boot stomps to "Holidays in the Sun." And then the guitar came roaring through like thunder. By the time Lydon's vocal came in, I definitely wanted to destroy my past and create something new for myself. That's sort of the impact that they always had on me and my music. When I'm trying to create something, I always refer to the Sex Pistols, because they show you what the possibilities are in music. You don't have to emulate them, but thanks to them, you can take it anywhere. ILLUSTRATION BY JOSIE JAMMET 59 Aerosmith By Slash I don't think this generation has a clue what classic Aerosmith was all about. But they were the template for what I do, as well as plenty of bands that came after Guns n' Roses: Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam all owed a serious debt to old-school Aerosmith. My big awakening happened when I was 14 years old. I'd been trying to get into this older girl's pants for a while, and she finally let me come over to her house. We hung out, smoked some pot and listened to Aerosmith's Rocks. It hit me like a f***ing ton of bricks. I sat there listening to it over and over, and totally blew off this girl. I remember riding my bike back to my grandma's house knowing that my life had changed forever. Now I identified with something. The key to Rocks is the first two songs — "Back in the Saddle" and "Last Child." That combination just ripped my head off. But my favorite song on the record has always been "Nobody's Fault," which is the second song on the B side. Aerosmith had an aggressive, psychotic, drugged-out vibe, but at the same time they had a Stones-y blues thing going on. There was just nothing cooler than Aerosmith coming out of America at that point. What else was there? Foghat? When I was just starting to learn how to play guitar, Aerosmith gave me the shove I needed. I identified with Joe Perry's image, both soundwise and visually. He was streamlined in a way that reminded me of Keith Richards, was always wasted and had a careless guitar style that was really cool. But I was also totally into Brad Whitford's guitar solos, and he had a more direct influence on the way I play than anybody realizes. And anyone who sings needs to be exposed to Steven Tyler. My first Aerosmith concert was in 1978, at a festival with Van Halen — they were incredibly loud and I barely recognized a note, but it was still the most bitchin' thing I'd ever seen. Soon after that, they broke up, which to me marked the end of Seventies rock. The next time I saw them was when they got back together six years later, and they were amazing. When Aerosmith are in the groove, they're just rock-solid. Not too long after that, Guns n' Roses were asked to open for Aerosmith on their Permanent Vacation tour. We went to their manager's hotel room, and while he was in the bathroom we ordered $1,500 worth of room service and trashed the place. But they must have liked us a lot, because they put us on the bill anyway, and I've known them ever since. ILLUSTRATION BY OLAF HAJEK 58 Parliament and Funkadelic By Ice Cube When I was going out in the Eighties, you could get your ass kicked if you put on Funkadelic's "(Not Just) Knee Deep" at a house party. Some DJs wouldn't play that song or "Flash Light," because a fight would start: The crazy motherf***ers at parties would become real crazy. "Knee Deep" was their coming-out music. At 15 minutes, it was so long and so good, it made you feel like now was the time. For whatever. George Clinton showed me that anything goes: You do what you feel. Obviously, he had great musicians on those albums: Bootsy Collins on the bass; Bernie Worrell, the best keyboard player I've ever heard. Clinton would pull in people like James Brown's saxophone player Maceo Parker and anyone else he could find. The arrangements are always so unpredictable: high-pitched synthesizer sounds you never heard before, followed by straight-up beautiful music. He could turn the corniest things into funk. My uncle Jerry was a DJ and introduced me to all the P-Funk records when I was a little kid: The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, Mothership Connection. I loved them because they reminded me of cartoons, but they were crazy and psychedelic, and the superheroes were black men. To this day they still have the best album covers I've ever seen; they would sustain you as much as a video would today. I remember just sitting and staring at the cover of Motor Booty Affair; there was that picture of Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk with a big-ass bird breathing down his neck. My favorite characters were Star Child and Sir Nose, even though Sir Nose was a sucker who didn't swim and didn't like the funk. I was too young to go to the concerts, but I'd hear about them from my older brothers and sisters — about the huge stage shows, and one story about a fan who stripped off all his clothes and ran the length of the arena. That bugged me out. In the end, nobody described George Clinton's music better than the man himself: It is "Cosmic Slop," it is funkadelic — funky and psychedelic. You feel a mothership connection. Clinton was a great marketer, in the best sense possible: He delivered what he promised. He was no Geraldo Rivera — he was Muhammad Ali or LeBron James. His music never went away on the West Coast, and you can still hear his mark all over music today. Parliament and Funkadelic were 30 years ahead of their time. ILLUSTRATION BY DALE STEPHANOS 57 Grateful Dead By Warren Haynes I didn't grow up a Deadhead. I didn't become a big fan until 1989. I first saw the band in 1979 — I was 19 — but my head was somewhere else at the time. My wife, Stefani, was a Deadhead, though, and after we met, in 1989, we'd go to see them every chance we'd get. One night, at Madison Square Garden, Bruce Hornsby — who was playing keyboards with them — pulled us up onstage and sat us behind his piano. We were 10 feet from Jerry Garcia, and you could see how that audience zeroed in on him. He was the focus of everything. There was a synchronicity between the Dead and the crowd, and it was mesmerizing to watch Jerry, in his own understated way, steering that ship — knowing it was a big ship that could barely be steered, but if anybody could steer it, it was him. Obviously, most of today's jam bands are influenced by the Dead. But what disappoints me about a lot of current music is that you don't hear any history in it. The Dead were aficionados of folk, acoustic blues and bluegrass — particularly Garcia. In the songs he wrote with Robert Hunter, and in Bob Weir's stuff too, you're also hearing music from 40 years ago. Everyone focuses on the magic of Jerry's guitar playing and the vulnerability of his voice, but his sense of melody and chord changes was unbelievable. The ballads especially connected with me: "Loser," "Wharf Rat," "Stella Blue." My song "Lay of the Sunflower," on the Gov't Mule album The Deep End, has a lot of Garcia's melodic sensibilities. Before I joined the Dead in 2004, I played with Phil Lesh for about five years. He is one of the most original bass players ever. His background was in classical music; he looks at the bass guitar as a piece of the orchestra, like a low-pitch brass instrument. His job isn't just holding down the root notes — he and the drummers, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, are moving all over the place. A lot of the magic in the Dead's music came from Phil and Jerry learning how to play together, combining Phil's approach with Jerry's unique blend of influences. Jerry is still one of the few guitarists where as soon as you hear him, you know instantly who it is. As a guitar player, that is the thing I strive for: the distinct, recognizable personality that comes out in every note. There was a humanity in Jerry's guitar work as well as his singing that drew you in. He was a very personal guitarist; he played with more heart and soul than technique. And to me, that's what the best music is made of. As a band, the Dead also redefined success. They created this following that grew and grew, and they did it without compromising themselves. They survived in a world where survival didn't seem possible. They bucked the system and encouraged their fans to do the same: to be free thinkers. There are a lot of Deadheads who were completely different people before they connected with the Grateful Dead. The Dead still believe in that message. When I'm with the Allman Brothers, the band always leaves it up to me how much of Duane's influence I should show. The Dead are like that too. They're never going to tell me, "Play it more like Jerry" or "less like Jerry." It's always, "Do what you think is right." ILLUSTRATION BY STERLING HUNDLEY 56 Dr. Dre By Kanye West Do hip-hop producers hold Dr. Dre in high esteem? It's like asking a Christian if he believes Christ died for his sins. Dre has a whole coast on his back. He discovered Snoop — one of the two greatest living rappers, along with Jay-Z — and signed Eminem, 50 Cent and the Game. He takes artists with great potential and makes them even better. I wonder where I'd be right now if Dre had discovered me. I remember hearing Dre's music before I really knew who he was. I had a tape of Eazy-E's Eazy-Duz-It when I was 11 years old (until my mother found out it had curses on it and confiscated it). I didn't know what "production" was back then, but I knew I loved the music. The more I learned about producing hip-hop, the more I respected what Dre was doing. Think about how on old N.W.A records the beat would change four or five times in a single song. A million people can program beats, but can they put together an entire album like it's a movie? When I was learning to produce, working in a home studio in my mother's crib, I tried to make beats that sounded exactly like Timbaland's, DJ Premier's, Pete Rock's and, especially, Dr. Dre's. Dre productions like Tupac's "California Love" were just so far beyond what I was doing that I couldn't even comprehend what was going on. I had no idea how to get to that point, how to layer all those instruments. The Chronic is still the hip-hop equivalent of Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life. It's the benchmark you measure your album against if you're serious. But it's "Xxplosive," off 2001, that I got my entire sound from — if you listen to the track, it's got a soul beat, but it's done with those heavy Dre drums. Listen to "This Can't Be Life," a track I did for Jay-Z's Dynasty album, and then listen to "Xxplosive." It's a direct bite. I first met Dre in December of 2003. He asked me to produce a track for the Game. At first I was star-struck, but within 30 minutes I was begging him to mix my next album. He's the definition of a true talent: Dre feels like God placed him here to make music, and no matter what forces are aligned against him, he always ends up on the mountaintop. ILLUSTRATION BY DAN BROWN 55 Eric Clapton By Steven Van Zandt Eric Clapton is the most important and influential guitar player that has ever lived, is still living or ever will live. Do yourself a favor, and don't debate me on this. Before Clapton, rock guitar was the Chuck Berry method, modernized by Keith Richards, and the rockabilly sound — Scotty Moore, Carl Perkins, Cliff Gallup — popularized by George Harrison. Clapton absorbed that, then introduced the essence of black electric blues: the power and vocabulary of Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin and the three Kings — B.B., Albert and Freddie — to create an attack that defined the fundamentals of rock & roll lead guitar. Maybe most important of all, he turned the amp up — to 11. That alone blew everybody's mind in the mid-Sixties. In the studio, he moved the mic across the room from the amp, which added ambience; everybody else was still close-miking. Then he cranked the f***ing thing. Sustain happened; feedback happened. The guitar player suddenly became the most important guy in the band. Intellectually, Clapton was a purist, although there was little evidence of it in the beginning. He supercharged every riff he knew, even things I remember as note-for-note tributes, like Freddie King's "Hide Away," on John Mayall's Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton. When he soloed, he wrote wonderful symphonies from classic blues licks in that fantastic tone, with all of the resonance that comes from distortion. You could sing his solos like songs in themselves. I first saw Clapton with Cream, at the Cafe Au Go Go in New York in 1967 — sort of. I stood outside. It was sold out. I couldn't get in. But you could see them — the band was right in the window. And it was loud, even outside. In those days, musically, Clapton was a total wild man. He stood there, not moving a muscle, while he issued the most savage assault you had ever experienced, unless you were at the debut of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" and your seat was in front of the cannon. And when his creativity, passion, frustration and anger all came together, it was frightening. His solo in "Crossroads" on Wheels of Fire is impossible: I don't know how he kept time while he played. I've never said more than a casual hello to Eric, so none of this is inside information. But I believe that his guitar playing changed radically in the early Seventies because singing and songwriting became more important to him, and Robert Johnson had a lot to do with that. Clapton was so moved by Johnson's music that he wanted to write and sing with the same passion, clarity and truth. You hear the frustration — of not being able to do that — in his Sixties guitar work. The first time I heard real anger and aggressive sexuality expressed in guitar playing was on that Mayall record. If the solo in "Have You Heard" isn't the sound of a co*ck ripping through trousers on its way to the promised land, I don't know what is. Bob Dylan's Basem*nt Tapes and the Band's Music From Big Pink started a move back to American traditional music, and those recordings were a big influence on Clapton. Around the same time, Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett were encouraging him to write and sing. You can hear how good he is at both on Eric Clapton, the album he made with them, as well as his change in tone from Gibson-dirty to Stratocaster-clean. Layla was, for me, the last time everything — the singing, songwriting and guitar playing — were all at the same high intensity level. It's Clapton's most original interpretation of the blues, because the hellhounds on his trail had a face: unrequited love. But Clapton's guitar playing is still terrific. The thing is, he had seven years of the most extraordinary, historic guitar playing ever — and 40 years of doing good work. Being the best has got to wear you out. So he pulled back, like Dylan and Lennon did. The sprint is cool — the marathon is better. Clapton has followed in the footsteps of his mentors: He's become a journeyman. Anyone who plays lead guitar owes him a debt of gratitude. He wrote the fundamental language, the binary code, that everyone uses to this day. The day may come, if you're a young rocker, when you'll hear one of Clapton's mellow, contemporary ballads on the radio and think, "What's the big deal?" Put on "Steppin' Out." And bow down. ILLUSTRATION BY OWEN SMITH 54 Howlin’ Wolf By Buddy Guy That man was the natural stuff. When I first heard Howlin' Wolf's records, I thought that deep, scratchy voice was a fake voice, just the way he sang — until I met him. He said, "Hello," and I thought, "Uh-oh, this isn't fake. This is for real." Wolf's conversation was the same as his singing. Matter of fact, the first time I met him, I started tapping my feet as he was talking. His first big records, like "Moanin' at Midnight" and "How Many More Years" — I'd hear them on the radio when I was still in Louisiana, on WLAC out of Nashville. We had an old battery-powered radio, and we'd listen to this half-hour program that came on at night. I'd hear the man's voice and try to picture what he looked like. I thought he was a big, light-skinned guy. Then I went up to Chicago — September 25th, 1957. The next year, I was meeting all of the great blues musicians: Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf. And when I saw Wolf, yes, he was a big guy. But he wasn't light-skinned at all. Boy, was I wrong. And he used to put on such a show. He would get down on the floor, crawl like a wolf and sing in that voice: "I'm a tail dragger." He would do this boogie-woogie thing, around and around — like the kids used to do with the hula hoops, where you had to go around and around at your waist, to keep the hoop going. That was the kind of s*** he was doing. I'd see that and think, "Man, there goes the Wolf." He was so exciting to be on a show with. Wolf was a big man, but he could really move. It was like when the Chicago Bears had that player the Refrigerator. People think football players can't move when they're that big. And people expected the Wolf, because he was such a big guy, to just sit in a chair and belt it out. No, man, he had all that action. He had everything you wanted to see. He'd crawl around, jump around. His fists were as big as a car tire. And he would ball that fist up. When I started getting calls to come and play on some cuts behind him, I'd think, "Oh, s***, I better play right." I'd heard he was mean. I was told that. But, you know, I never had a cross word with the man the whole time, right up to when he passed away. The reason I got a chance to play on sessions with him — on songs like "Killing Floor," "Built for Comfort" and "300 Pounds of Joy" — and a lot of musicians better than me didn't get those dates, was because they would come in thinking, "This is my opportunity to blow the Wolf offstage." There was no way I could say that. This was my opportunity to learn something from the Wolf. But Wolf was not a demanding person. If you played something that made him smile, he would look back at you with that smile. When he did, to me, I was getting paid. I played with Muddy, too, and it was so great to play with both of them. I heard a rumor that Wolf and Muddy didn't get along — I never saw that. Jimmy Rogers, who played in Muddy's band, used to laugh and joke about what Wolf had to say about Muddy and what Muddy would say back. But all of them talked bad about each other, calling everyone "motherf***er." That was their thing. With musicians, " motherf***er" was the love word. And when Wolf said, "Motherf***er, you can't play," what he was really saying was, "I'm gonna fire your ass up. If I tell you you can't play, then you're gonna bring it on." This is the way Wolf treated you. That would signify for you to show your s***. Everything you wanted was right there, touchable to me, in that voice — even when Wolf wasn't singing. We used to have these Blue Mondays in Chicago that would start at seven o'clock in the morning. That's when we'd all get together after playing and just do a conversation, man. I would sit and listen to Wolf talk. It didn't have to be about music. He loved fishing, he loved sports. To me, it all sounded like music from heaven. People don't know him the way they should now. When Muddy died, they interviewed me on television, and they asked me, "What should be done?" I said most cities with famous musicians, like Chicago — they end up naming a street or something after them. And they got the street that Muddy lived on most of his life named after him. But it never happened for Wolf. And the younger generation coming up now — if you don't talk about the music or the artists, they don't know them. My children didn't know who I was until they were 21 and were able to come in the clubs and see me. We got to go back and do some digging. We have to let people know that Howlin' Wolf — and Muddy and Little Walter and all these cats — made Chicago the world capital of the blues. Chess Records is a landmark. But who made Chess Records? What about those people we done forgot about, like Wolf? ILLUSTRATION BY JOSIE JAMMET 53 The Allman Brothers Band By Billy Gibbons In a way, their name says it all. It wasn't just about the fact that Duane and Gregg Allman had the same parents. The Allman Brothers Band was a true brotherhood of players — one that went beyond race and ego. It was a thing of beauty. The Allmans were without question the first great jam band, and they took the jam to heights that it had not previously reached. They played traditional blues mixed with their own unique brand of rock & roll, and there was nothing but strength in that group. Duane Allman played what he wanted to hear. There have been bottleneck-guitar players forever, from the Twenties through the Sixties, but Duane began doing things no one had ever done before. He had a tone and a style that were uniquely his. He was just a stunning and singular musician who was gone way too soon. Then there was his kid brother, Gregg. His singing and keyboard playing had a dark richness, a soulfulness that added one more color to the Allmans' rainbow. The Allman Brothers had respect for the roots of this music. They learned from the blues, and they continued to interpret the form in their own manner. They took something old and made something new. I was lucky enough to see the Allmans up close in the beginning. I first became aware of them when they were breaking out of Macon, Georgia. They had played Austin and made a tremendous noise down there. Word spread very quickly in those days. The next thing we knew we were on the road with these guys, opening up for them and Quicksilver Messenger Service, and witnessing music history. We would linger by the stage after our set and listen to Duane and Dickey Betts play guitar together. It was like they were weaving a beautiful piece of cloth. Dickey was remarkable in his own right. Yet in the beginning, no one in that band — Duane, Dickey, Jaimoe Johanson or Butch Trucks — outshined the others. There are a couple of moments on At Fillmore East that defy description — where the Allmans take the music to places it had never been. That extended version of "Whipping Post" is the all-time end-all for me. The Allmans were the great Southern-rock band, but they were more than that. They defined the best of every music from the American South in that time. They were the best of all of us. ANITA KUNZ 52 Queen By Gerard Way My dad was a mechanic. He worked on a lot of bottom-of-the-rung cars that didn't have cassette decks. But they had 8-tracks. Somebody left an 8-track tape of Queen's Greatest Hits in a car — the one where they're wearing leather jackets on the cover, and Freddie's got the mustache. I loved it immediately, and I came to emulate Freddie both as a child and as an adult. "Bohemian Rhapsody" is arguably the greatest song ever written. I'm sure people told them it was too long or had too many movements. But then it came out and just took hold of the world. When you're in a band and you find something that breaks every rule, it gives you creative hope. And Queen were always trying something new; none of their hit songs were paint-by-numbers. When My Chemical Romance were making The Black Parade, we watched tons of documentary footage about A Night at the Opera, Queen's best album. We used Brian May amps and wrote songs with different movements. But we didn't try to make another "Bohemian Rhapsody." Whenever someone tries to do that, they fail. I love the way Freddie performed. He would strike amazing poses; maybe he practiced them in front of a mirror, but he wasn't pretending to be somebody else. That was him telling the world, "This is who I am." I remember when the surviving members of Queen were looking for a singer a few years ago, I was like, "I would love to try it." Freddie's songs are just so much fun to sing, and he had such stamina. I would definitely have to quit smoking to be able to do what he did. Queen fell in and out of being cool, maybe because they were so sincere. Rock music is all about being phony sometimes. And they weren't. They were obviously so psyched to be doing what they were doing. They had a polarizing quality. I heard a story — maybe apocryphal — that Queen played a festival and got booed off the stage. Freddie vowed they would return as the biggest band in the world. And they did. When we played the Reading and Leeds festivals, we had to follow Slayer, and got bottles of p*** thrown at us. I thought, "If we ever come back here, we're gonna headline it." I've always held on to the same dreams as Freddie. DALE STEPHANOS 51 Pink Floyd By Wayne Coyne When I was growing up in the 1970s, Pink Floyd were ever-present. My brothers and my older sister and all their friends constantly played records in their rooms while they smoked pot. Especially Dark Side of the Moon. You heard that every day of your life, for at least three or four years around then. Turning 14 years old is already a heavy combination of things. For Dark Side of the Moon to be playing in the background during that time was perfect. As you looked deeper into their music, everything you find out leads to something interesting. Pink Floyd were always a group of great creative minds who did whatever the f*** they wanted and didn't worry about all the little rules. They had an amazing ability to change between records. You don't realize how powerful that is when you're just a listener. But being a person who's made 14 records, you see how big a deal it is. They have a phase one, a phase two, maybe even a phase three and four. A lot of groups — if they're lucky — just have a phase one. They started out with Syd Barrett writing these whimsical stories, these songs that were kind of surf-rock, kind of R&B, but in his own f***ed up way. Later you had Roger Waters evoking these big, universal landscapes of human crises. And Pink Floyd came to embrace this idea of "We can play stadiums and we can fill them up with giant f***ing pig balloons." Their music could just always hold that. Yet, despite all these different pieces moving around, there is a lot of very simple musicality going on. Compared to the prog-rock groups they get thrown in with — King Crimson or Yes or Genesis — their music is actually very simple. You can grasp the chord progressions and melodies the first time you hear them. I love all those other groups but with Pink Floyd I understand the emotion. Take a song like "Fat Old Sun," from Atom Heart Mother. Living in Oklahoma, I sometimes can't relate when English bands sing about English things. When David Gilmour sings about the sun going down, there's something simple about it. It didn't seem like the sunset was happening in some king's country, in some other world. It seemed like he was singing about me walking in the sunsets in Oklahoma. 50 The Band By Lucinda Williams I've used the Band as an example for my career. When I first tried to get record deals, nobody knew how to market me, because my sound didn't necessarily fit into any stereotypes. But the Band did a little bit of everything. I remember when Music From Big Pink came out, in 1968. I was living in Arkansas at the time. You couldn't categorize the Band's sound, but it was so organic — a little bit country, a little bit roots, a little bit mountain, a little bit rock — and their vocal styles and harmonies totally set them apart. Each member brought something, because they were all consummate musicians. Their work as the Hawks on Bob Dylan's 1966 tour is some of the best rock & roll ever made, with Robbie Robertson playing just amazing guitar. The Band let Dylan branch out stylistically. In his writing, Dylan was getting away from those heavy, metaphorical songs on Blonde on Blonde and writing cool little tunes. Their songs are uncoverable — who can pull off Richard Manuel's incredible high voice? — but we tried. Any time we sat around singing songs, someone would inevitably pull out a version of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." My favorite song was "It Makes No Difference." The sentiment of it is so heart-wrenching. This guy is saying that his lover has just left him, and he's totally devastated. It's one of the most beautiful melodies I've ever heard. There is an element of sadness about the Band. The Last Waltz, despite its wonderful music, was sad to see because they had so much more to give. Richard Manuel's death was really tragic. I got to meet Garth Hudson when he played on a demo I did back in the mid-Eighties. I just remember he was really quiet, soft-spoken and real sweet. And he played like an angel. ILLUSTRATION BY CHARLES MILLER 49 Elton John By Billy Joel Elton John defines himself as a rock star, and he really lives it. More like a Roman aristocrat rock star. I've noticed when we've toured together that backstage you'll see young men with togas, dressed as centurions, with little fig leaves around their heads. Inside Elton's dressing room there are a thousand pairs of sunglasses, a hundred pairs of shoes and about 50 Versace suits laid out. He's f***ing royalty, and I love it. My dressing room looks like the back of a deli. I have one of those meat platters that sea gulls circle around. Elton kicks my ass on piano. He's fantastic — a throwback to Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino and Little Richard. His spontaneous, improvisational playing always challenges me. And that is his contribution to rock & roll and pop: his musicianship. Before him, rock was a bunch of James Taylors — guitar-based singer-songwriter stuff. Elton brought back fantastic piano-based rock. Elton knows what his instrument is capable of. The piano is a percussion instrument, like a drum. You don't strum a piano. You don't bow a piano. You bang and strike a piano. You beat the s*** out of a piano. Elton knows exactly how to do that — he always had that rhythmic, very African, syncopated style that comes from being well versed in gospel and good old R&B. Elton and Bernie Taupin did some brilliant songwriting during the first part of his career, from Elton John to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. The first time we met we were in Holland, at a hotel in Amsterdam. It was in the mid-Seventies, and he was at his peak — it was the height of the Elton John era — and I was just starting out as the "Piano Man" guy. We went into a private room and we just talked. I told him what a fan I was, and he said he knew my stuff. I thought this was so cool: There were a thousand guitar players, but there were only two of us. The English piano player and the American piano player. And, seminally, rock & roll was not just guitar. Elton gave a funny-looking guy like me — and so many others — an opportunity to be a singer-songwriter. When Elton was in his first band, Bluesology, he never thought he could be a rock star. Same as me. I didn't look like Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney or Jim Morrison. Sure, we thought we'd be piano players for big rock bands, but funnily enough he ended up with big, silly glasses and crazy outfits, and I ended up with my dopey stage behavior, both of us rock stars. To this day we laugh about that. And he keeps going on and on. I haven't put out a song since 1993, and he asks me, "Billy, why don't you write some new songs?" I say, "Elton, why don't you write less new songs?" At $200 a ticket, you can't shove new stuff down people's throats. So much of his stuff is amazing, though: "Rocket Man," "Crocodile Rock," "Bennie and the Jets," "Tiny Dancer," "Your Song" and "The Bitch Is Back." That's what they want to hear. Any melodic songwriter owes a debt to Elton John, the supreme melodist. I don't know s*** about new bands, but anybody who plays the keyboard and likes melody must give a nod to Elton. Like Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Carole King and the Beatles, he carries on the rich tradition of writing beautiful melodies. ILLUSTRATION BY MARK STUTZMAN 48 Run-DMC By Chuck D Run-DMC were the Beatles of hip-hop — Run and DMC were Lennon and McCartney, and Jam Master Jay was George and Ringo rolled into one. Raising Hell was the first true rap album, a complete work of art as opposed to a collection of singles or a novelty item. It's my favorite album of all time. It incorporated rock, but on rap's terms. Everyone in hip-hop today can be traced back to Run-DMC. They had a whole new energy that revolutionized hip-hop. Older artists like Grandmaster Flash wore disco-style outfits, were from the Bronx and had a different kind of appeal. Run-DMC were from Hollis, Queens, about 15 minutes from where I lived. Hollis was a suburban, not urban, environment, but Run-DMC dressed more like cats off the street — and 25 years later, most rappers still dress the same way. When I was doing college radio at WBAU on Long Island, we helped break Run-DMC. They were a model for Public Enemy in that we both made loud, blasting records for arenas, not clubs. They had to yell, because their beats and guitar riffs needed it. You couldn't rap in a low tone over a blaring guitar in an arena. I was at home in the fall of 2002, and I happened to turn on the TV. Some newscaster said that Jay had been shot and murdered, and I went into shock. Black musicians are not immune to the ills that afflict our community. It's not popular to say, but it's the truth, and we must address it to prevent these tragedies in the future. One little story: In 1984, I told Jay that I was coming to the Spectrum in Philadelphia to check out the first Fresh Fest tour. When I got to the back gate, I sent a message and asked, could he meet me there? And sure enough, in the middle of a concert in front of 20,000 people, he took time out to walk down the ramp, past security and hit me off with two tickets. He gave me some good seats, too. I was forever grateful. That's who Jay was. He was the type of cat who didn't forget you. And I will never forget him. ILLUSTRATION BY JOHANNA GOODMAN 47 Patti Smith By Shirley Manson I was about 19 when I first heard a Patti Smith record. It was Horses. I remember sitting there, very taken by the sound of her voice, this ferocious delivery. Later I was struck by how literate her lyrics were, how intellectual and political. I loved how, in her songs, she talked about anything other than the love in her heart for a man. And I loved her image: this non-glam look with the chopped-off hair, looking like a skinny boy. She was the complete opposite of the images that were pumped into me as a child, of what I was supposed to aspire to as a woman. She is a folk artist, in the way that Bob Dylan is. I loved that she was a poet involved in visual art. It wasn't just about the music for her. It was everything. And she knew how powerful her image was — that she was really sexy — and how to manipulate that for her art. What Madonna does today, Patti was doing from the beginning. Except Madonna was into selling, period. I felt that Patti's goal was to use her art to bring comfort and grace — to me, personally. The opening lines of "Revenge," on Wave, give me the chills to this day: "I feel upset/Let's do some celebrating." Garbage played a festival with Patti in Athens years ago, and she signed a set list for me: "Power to the people, Patti Smith." It's a cliché. But clichés, she understands, can work. I once talked with a young man who was refusing to utilize his right to vote, out of principle. As much as I understood his point, I believe individuals are important. One person can make a difference. When Patti sings "People Have the Power," it moves me, because I know I am not the only person out there feeling these things. I can only imagine there are millions of people out there whom she is singing to, who feel like me. And when you add up those millions of people, it's worthwhile. She is a soldier. She will not be defeated. I look at today's charts, at the women who are selling the most records, getting the most column inches, and I'm terrified by how so many of them are controlled by a male corporate idea of what women and rebels should be. When some teen-pop singer is taken seriously as a rebellious figure, we have a huge problem. I'm just glad that Patti is still willing to get up there and fight for what she believes in. It makes me feel less alone. ILLUSTRATION BY ANDREA VENTURA 46 Janis Joplin By Rosanne Cash Janis Joplin was absolutely a barnstormer and a complete groundbreaker. She wasn't just a great woman in rock — at the time she was the woman in rock. Janis really created this whole world of possibility for women in music: Without Janis Joplin, there would be no Melissa Etheridge. Without Janis, there would be no Chrissie Hynde, no Gwen Stefani. There would be no one. I was a freshman or sophom*ore in high school when Janis first connected with me. Pearl was the first record I bought. I remember that I was kind of scared. I think that if Joni Mitchell gave me the idea that a woman could write about her life in a public forum, Janis gave me the idea that a woman could live a wild life and put that out there in a public forum, too. At the time, I was this very proper Catholic girl, and Janis was a frightening presence. But being scared didn't stop me from buying Janis' records, and it didn't stop me from wearing a black armband to school the day she died. It's hard to imagine now the extent to which Janis was so completely shocking at the time. There had been blues singers who were wild and unrestrained — but even they tended to be a little more buttoned-down than Janis. She always seemed on the verge of being totally out of control. A few summers ago, I watched the Monterey Pop Festival film for the first time in ages, and I was absolutely stunned by Janis. She had this focus that was relentless. She was a spectacle, like some kind of nuclear being bearing down on the crowd. In the film, you see Mama Cass at the end of Janis' performance just shaking her head, and applauding, like, "Oh, my God, what just happened?" She had an unshakable commitment to her own truth, no matter how destructive, how weird or how bad. Nothing else seemed to matter. She was such an individual in the way she dressed, the way she sang, the way she lived. She loved her whiskey and made no bones about it. This was a full-blown one-of-a-kind woman — no stylist, no publicist, no image-maker. It was just Janis. The beauty and the power of Janis Joplin as a singer is her complete lack of fear. She held nothing back. She went to the edge every time she opened her mouth. She sang from her toes and from her soul. She could also destroy you when she got vulnerable, like on "Me and Bobby McGee," where you saw the little girl underneath. But through it all, Janis never lightened up. She didn't live long enough to lighten up. She was a very fierce, very beautiful bright light that burned out way, way too quickly. ILLUSTRATION BY ANITA KUNZ 45 The Byrds By Tom Petty The Byrds are immortal because they flew so high. For me, they're still way, way up there. They left a huge mark. First off, the Byrds were the first credible American answer to the British Invasion. All of folk rock — for lack of a better term — descends directly from the music the Byrds made. They were certainly the first to introduce any sort of country element into rock music. As if all that wasn't enough, the Byrds spurred on a good degree of Bob Dylan's popularity, too. And not to be too shallow, but they also were just the best-dressed band around. They had those great clothes and hairdos. That counted for something even then. I'll never forget hearing "Mr. Tambourine Man" for the first time on the radio — the feeling of that Rickenbacker twelve-string guitar and those incredible harmonies. Roger McGuinn told me he took that guitar sound from A Hard Day's Night, but McGuinn was a banjo player, and he played the Rickenbacker in this rolling, fingerpicking style — no one had really tried it before. George Harrison admitted that "If I Needed Someone" was his take on the Byrds' "The Bells of Rhymney." The Byrds were the only American group that the Beatles were friendly with and had a dialogue with. Those original Byrds really changed the world in that short time they were together. In some ways, they were an unlikely group to become rock & roll stars. Chris Hillman was from the bluegrass world. McGuinn had been in folk groups like the Limelighters and the Chad Mitchell Trio, as well as playing with Bobby Darin. David Crosby came out of the coffeehouse scene, too. Gene Clark played with the New Christy Minstrels. McGuinn once told me that the Byrds had to get together and really learn how to play rock & roll as a group. That was their first quest. Imagine a bunch of recovering folkies trying to learn how to make people dance. The Byrds represented Los Angeles as much as the Beach Boys, except that the Byrds were the other side of the coin — they were L.A.'s whacked-out beatnik rock group. They're part of what drew me to Los Angeles and made me want to be in a band. I got to see the Byrds once at the West Palm Beach pop festival on the same bill with the Rolling Stones. In the beginning, that was the original blueprint for the Heartbreakers — we wanted to be a mix of the Byrds and the Stones. We figured, "What could be cooler than that?" ILLUSTRATION BY OWEN SMITH 44 Public Enemy By Adam Yauch No one has been able to approach the political power that Public Enemy brought to hip-hop. I put them on a level with Bob Marley and a handful of other artists — the rare artist who can make great music and also deliver a political and social message. But where Marley's music sweetly lures you in, then sneaks in the message, Chuck D grabs you by the collar and makes you listen. I remember the first time I heard "Rebel Without a Pause": We were on tour with Run-DMC, and one day Chuck D put on a tape they had just finished. It was the first time they used those screeching horns along with this incredibly heavy beat — it was just unlike anything I had ever heard before. It blew my wig back. Later I remember listening to "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" over and over again on headphones after It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back came out. The premise of it — that the current U.S. prison system has many parallels to slavery — blew my mind, and the music is incredible: that Isaac Hayes sample and Chuck D's rhymes about a jailbreak. Like a lot of their songs, it's like watching a movie. PE completely changed the game musically. No one was just putting straight-out noise and atonal synthesizers into hip-hop, mixing elements of James Brown and Miles Davis; no one in hip-hop had ever been this hard, and perhaps no one has since. They made everything else sound clean and happy, and the power of the music perfectly matched the intention of the lyrics. They were also the first rap group to really focus on making albums — you can listen to Nation of Millions or Fear of a Black Planet from beginning to end. They aren't just random songs tossed together. To me, Chuck D is the most important MC in hip-hop. On a strictly MC'ing-skill basis, I rank him up there with the best: His power and cadences on lines like "Yes/The rhythm, the rebel/Without a pause/I'm lowering my level" is unmatched. Then if you take into account what he's actually saying, it puts him on a different plane from any other MC. The combination of him and Flavor Flav is incredibly effective: Chuck is so straight and direct, and Flav brings this wild randomness to it. They complement each other perfectly. Public Enemy made hip-hop that was more than entertainment. They inspired a lot of people who believed that you can effect change through music, and they're still inspiring to me. ILLUSTRATION BY OLAF HAJEK 43 Sly and the Family Stone By Don Was Sly and the Family Stone didn't have to say, "Why can't we all just get along?" Looking at the band members and listening to their shared sound made the statement. On the early Sly and the Family Stone records, there was just no acknowledgment of race; they're truly utopian. A real idealism comes across loud and clear on songs like "Everyday People" and "Hot Fun in the Summertime," and people need messages like that. The band had blacks and whites, men and women. Seeing this group that embraced so many elements of society sort of drew you in as an extended family member. This was a joyous noise and a joyful vision. Sly was monumental in his contribution to music. On musical terms, the Family Stone were an amazing band, but there was no doubt Sly Stone was the leader. He is a singular funk orchestrator; Duke Ellington is probably the best reference point. No one had taken elements of funk and combined them the way Sly did. Sly orchestrated those early records in very advanced ways — a little guitar thing here that would trigger the next part that would trigger the next part. Then, as time went on, Sly started using some more dissonant colors; he became like the Cézanne of funk. It's like he took these traditional James Brown groove elements and started putting orange into the picture. Somewhere along the way, around the time of There's a Riot Goin' On, Sly got disillusioned. I think he discovered that the utopian worldview worked in his band, but when he got out in everybody else's world, he still couldn't walk into a bar in Mobile, Alabama, without getting into a fight. That will change you. Fresh is from a guy who realizes that nobody — not Sly Stone, not the Rothschilds — nobody can mess with the forces of history. Que será será. Fresh is a very deep piece of work. It's the sound of a guy who has hit the pinnacle and is free-falling. Why is Sly singing "Que Sera Sera" on the album? Because he's got no f***ing control. When the magic hits, it's a gift that can go away just as quickly as it came. Without Sly, the world would be very different. Every R&B thing that came after him was influenced by this guy. The so-called revolution that was coming at the end of the Sixties: We might have lost that one, but Sly won his own personal revolution, musically and in the minds of the audience. I just hope he knows that, I hope he's not sitting around with any kind of remorse. Because by any real criteria that you measure success, this guy is a titan. ILLUSTRATION BY SHAWN BARBER 42 Van Morrison By Peter Wolf Back in 1968, the Boston Tea Party was the premier club for rock bands. My band, the Hallucinations, composed of art-school dropouts heavily drenched in R&B and Chicago blues, used the club as a rehearsal hall whenever it was available. The music we played could be described as primal, raw and heavy on attitude. We were in the midst of rehearsing one day, getting ready to open for the great bluesman Howlin' Wolf, when something caught my eye, and I looked over to see a stranger looming in the doorway. I had no idea who he was or what he was doing there, so I went over to find out what he wanted. In a thick brogue, he asked about places to play in Boston. Once I figured out who it was, I was both excited and perplexed. Excited because I'd known and admired Van Morrison's work from his debut on the charts with his group, Them. Perplexed because he seemed so lost and adrift. Despite the recent Top 40 success of his song "Brown Eyed Girl," he'd been having difficulty establishing his identity as a solo artist, but that couldn't account for the bleakness of his mood. As we talked, it became clear that we shared a passion for the same kind of music. Van gradually loosened up, and we made plans to get together again. He started dropping by the FM station where I used to do an all-night radio show. Soon we began to hang together, going out carousing in the night and sometimes getting into more mischief than we bargained for. Van was living in a small, street-level apartment in an old wooden house on Green Street in Cambridge. He, his new wife, her young son. They were flat-out broke. The place was bleak and barren, with little more than a mattress on the floor, a refrigerator, an acoustic guitar and a reel-to-reel tape recorder. They had no phone and little food. It was hard times: He was in exile, with a family to feed, no money, no band, no recording contract and no promise of any safe or legal way out. Even the reason he moved to Boston remained a mystery. Whenever Van had to make business calls, he would walk several blocks to my place to use the phone. It seemed that my apartment also offered him a break from the near-despair of his complicated and unresolved life. He would spend endless hours going through my records. Over and over, we would listen to what he called "the gospel" of Jackie Wilson, Ray Charles, Hank Williams, Louis Jordan, Billy Stewart, Elvis and John Lee Hooker. "They're the real deal," he'd say. He played Gene Chandler's live version of "Rainbow '65" so much, I had to get a new needle for my turntable. Many nights were spent checking out different clubs, but few people knew who Van was. Sometimes he would show up at my band's gigs. One night, as we started the intro to his song "Gloria," I called him onstage even though he was reluctant to sing it. When he came up, he went into a brilliant scat that rivaled King Pleasure himself. Unfortunately, the audience didn't want this "unknown" singer changing the familiar delivery of a song that was fast becoming a true rock classic. Eventually, Van managed to assemble a two-piece acoustic band and booked himself at a coffeehouse/jazz club that could only be described as subterranean. It was located three stories below a pool parlor and was deep, damp and dark. Egyptian motifs were painted on its yellow smoke-stained walls. The club justly deserved its name: the Catacombs. I borrowed a tape machine to capture the evening's music. What he performed that night later turned out to be the song cycle that made up the groundbreaking Astral Weeks. Though only a handful of people showed up, when Van finished playing, there was no doubt that the few present had witnessed something extraordinary. When I see Van now, I still see the same raw power and passion that he displayed more than 40 years ago in the long-forgotten Catacombs. I admire the strength and mysterious ability to transcend the despair and chaos that could have so easily trapped and overwhelmed him. He has created a body of work that reflects without imitation. The gospel according to Van: "Turn it up, turn it up, a little bit higher/You know it's got soul" and "it's too late to stop now!" ILLUSTRATION BY TIM BOWER 41 The Doors By Marilyn Manson Jim Morrison said it best: "all the children are insane," and he meant it like I mean it. We are children revolted by the banality of what people think is sane. When Jim rambled, quite profoundly, "Rock & roll is dead," and "Hitler is still alive…. I slept with her last night," he knew then what we are choking on now. You can't change the world, and if you try, you just end up destroying it. We love all things to death. We leave the lights on, turn everything up to 10 and f*** everything we fear. In 10th grade I was told to read No One Here Gets Out Alive, the biography of Jim Morrison. Everything I'm interested in now got started with that book. It made me want to be a writer, and I started with poetry and short stories. We don't know what was really going on in Morrison's head, but I liked trying to piece it together. The immortality of his words, the mystery of his existence appealed to my sense of fantasy. I found "Moonlight Drive" — particularly when accompanied by "Horse Latitudes" — scary and sexually mystifying, like Happy Days told by Ted Bundy. I read the poem in front of my 10th-grade English class, and it was as awe-inspiring then as it is now. Words like "mute nostril agony" and "carefully refined and sealed over" always stung in the corners of my eyes. I think the Doors still fit in because they never fit in in the first place. They didn't have a bass player. The music often had nothing to do with what Morrison was singing. The keyboard held everything together. Most bands can still get through a show if the keyboardist breaks a finger. Not the Doors. Robby Krieger played very odd guitar parts if you compare him to Jimmy Page or Keith Richards. Yet all this combined into something unique that grabbed people's attention. Morrison's voice was a beautiful pond for anything to drown in. Whatever he sang became as deep as he was. He had the unnameable thing that people will always be drawn to. I've always thought of the Doors as the first punk band, even more than the Stooges or the Ramones. They didn't sound anything like punk rock, but Morrison outshined everyone else when it came to rebellion and not playing by anyone else's rules. There are a lot of bands that seem to want to sound like the Doors filtered through grunge or neogrunge — or whatever it is. But it's all just ideas pasted on ideas, faded copies of copies. If you want to be like Jim Morrison, don't try. You can't be anything like Jim Morrison. It's about finding your own place in the world. ILLUSTRATION BY DAN BROWN 40 Simon and Garfunkel By James Taylor I remember when my older brother Alex and my youngest brother, Hugh, both brought home Simon and Garfunkel albums. The music stood by itself, quite apart from anything else around at the time. Simon and Garfunkel brought something new to music: They brought themselves. Through it all — whether they were together or not — they've remained a force in American music and culture. Their impact has been huge. To use a hackneyed phrase, they scored some of the most meaningful years of our lives. Think of how their songs worked in The Graduate — these were songs that spoke to a generation, in a motion picture that also spoke for a generation. Paul Simon has just always been one of our best songwriters. Paul's breakthrough came at a time when there was so much in the air, and many of his songs were picked up as anthems. He creates an unusually rich and full world, and he has such a broad palette, from basic and elemental folk music, like "Scarborough Fair," to later songs with far greater sophistication and more worldly approaches on solo work, like "Something So Right" and "Still Crazy After All These Years." And Art Garfunkel is one of those great, rare voices. I would know it anywhere at the drop of a hat, in half a bar. Over the years, I've been able to work with Paul and Art — the first time was with Art on a song of mine called "A Junkie's Lament." Art inhabits the songs like Louis Armstrong did — you don't just get his version of a song, you get his take on it. It is moving to see them sing together now after all these years. That kind of partnership is like a marriage, only more difficult and more public. You have two very strong, very willful individuals sharing this tight space. I was around Apple Records as the Beatles were disintegrating, and you realize that it's not an uncommon pattern. And perhaps because it wasn't something that came easy, it's all the more inspiring and reassuring to see that Paul and Art can still pull off such great reunions. ILLUSTRATION BY JODY HEWGILL 39 David Bowie By Lou Reed David Bowie's contribution to rock & roll has been wit and sophistication. He's smart, he's a true musician and he can really sing. He's got such a big range: I like the Ziggy Stardust voice, but he's got a lot of different voices. He's got his crooner voice, when he wants to. And he has a melodic sense that's just well above anyone else in rock & roll. Most people could not sing some of his melodies. He can really go for a high note. Take "Satellite of Love," on my Transformer album. There's a part at the very end where his voice goes all the way up. It's fabulous. There had been androgyny in rock from Little Richard on up, but David put his own patina on it, to say the least. He bethought hard about that Ziggy character; he'd been studying mime, and he didn't do it just for laughs. He was very aware of stagecraft. He made an entire show out of that character — and then he left it behind. How smart can you get? Can you imagine if he had to keep doing Ziggy? I mean, if you listened to what critics and audiences say, you'd be playing four songs over and over again. David set himself up to do other characters, like the Thin White Duke. And his take on American soul music, on albums like Young Americans, was incredibly good; the original material he wrote was great. I can't pick a favorite Bowie record. It always depends on my mood — any of the dance records; Ziggy Stardust; I always liked "The Bewlay Brothers," that track on Hunky Dory. And the albums he did with Brian Eno, like Low and "Heroes," are just phenomenal. He's always changing, so you never get tired of what he's doing. And I mean all the way up to his later records: "The Loneliest Guy" on his album Reality is a great song. Yet another one. David and I are still friends after all these years, amazingly enough. We go to the occasional art show and museum together, and I always like working with him. I really love what David does. I remember seeing him play in New York on the Reality tour a few years back, and it was one of the greatest rock & roll shows I have ever seen. At least as far as white people go. Seriously. ILLUSTRATION BY MARCO VENTURA 38 John Lennon By Lenny Kravitz I loved the Beatles' music growing up, but I didn't become aware of John Lennon's solo music until I was making my first album, Let Love Rule. There was this guy who was going to manage me; when he heard the raw tapes of my early songs, like "Be," he said, "Have you ever heard John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band? Because your stuff sounds like him." So I bought Plastic Ono Band, and I listened to it over and over for months. It's a monumental work of genius. I was blown away by how minimal it was, and how expressive it was. Lennon had just finished doing primal-scream therapy, and he was just unloading all this stuff, about his mother leaving him, about the Beatles and about who he was. A lot of people identify themselves by their success instead of who they are as people. Lennon showed us who he was as a person. He had just come from being in the biggest group on the planet; most people in his position would say, "How do I keep this up? I don't want to come down off this pedestal." He didn't care; he got butt-naked on the cover of Two Virgins, with his dick hanging out. On Plastic Ono Band, he stripped it down musically: He went into a studio with just a guitar, a bass, a piano and drums, and he made a raw record. The attitude and emotion of that album are harder than any punk rock I've ever heard. And the honesty of that music is why I became an enormous fan of his solo work, maybe even more than what he did with the Beatles. It inspired me and made me want to go deeper with my own songwriting. As a guitarist, Lennon had a great feel — something that can outshine a guy with a million chops. He's not a virtuoso, he's not Jimi Hendrix, but if you listen to those early Beatles records, there are some serious guitar intricacies going on between him and George Harrison. One of my favorite Lennon solo tracks is "How Do You Sleep?" — the guitar is incredibly funky. Not many people remember that Lennon co-wrote "Fame" with David Bowie; he had a really cool funky side. If he were around today, I think he would have gotten interested in hip-hop. He'd have wanted to blend the different things going on in our culture. Lennon was more than just a musician; he was more like a prophet. He stated his political point of view and spoke out against war, even when that meant he was being followed and hassled by the U.S. government. "Imagine" is one of the greatest songs ever written. It's like a church hymn, and it states his beliefs quite clearly. And more than anything, Lennon was an icon for peace. That's hard to find these days. ILLUSTRATION BY MARK GAGNON 37 Roy Orbison By K.D. Lang I've always compared Roy Orbison to a tree: passive and beautiful yet extremely solid. He maintained a sense of humility and sensitivity and gentleness uncommon to his era. He wasn't effeminate but extremely gentle. He was someone you felt entirely safe with, whether you were listening to his records or being around him. It wasn't like Elvis: It wasn't like your loins were on fire or anything like that. It's more like Roy was a private place to go — a solace or a refuge. He broke the mold of the Fifties tough-guy thing, and even the style of his music was a kind of fine art for somebody from Wink, Texas. It was cosmopolitan in a mysteriously soft and romantic way. Roy Orbison was like a folk opera singer. I think he was influenced by Spanish opera in structure and in feel. He also loved to express his voice in this upper range, in falsetto. He was vulnerable and strong at the same time. He was extremely earnest in his voice and his appearance, and yet he had this veil of mystery to him. In 1987, Roy and I recorded a version of "Crying" for a movie called Hiding Out. We ended up recording "Crying" in Vancouver, which is where I lived. I walked into the studio, and it was like staring at the huge image of the Marlboro Man on Sunset Boulevard — so immediately ominous and present. We were rehearsing the song in the studio with the band, and Roy and I happened to be sharing a mic. When we got to a part where we were singing at the same time, we both leaned into the mic and our cheeks touched. His cheek was so soft, and the energy was so amazing. Not sexual but totally explosive, like the chemistry of some sort of kinship. I'll never forget what that felt like. I can hear that voice right in my ear. His vibrato was sort of fast and had a small waver within it, and that's what gave him the vulnerable sound. That voice. ILLUSTRATION BY CYNTHIA VON BUHLER 36 Madonna By Britney Spears I'm sorry, but I'd rather meet Madonna than the president of the United States. Madonna has this thing about her that you can't explain — the thing that makes somebody a star. When she walks into the room, you just have to take notice. She's so comfortable with herself, and she's not afraid to live life to the fullest and to say whatever she feels, no matter what anyone thinks. There's something kind of childlike about that; it's a beautiful, amazing thing. Madonna was the first female pop star to take control of every aspect of her career and to take responsibility for creating her image, no matter how much flak she might get. She's proved that she can do so many different things — music and movies and being a parent, too. Her music has become iconic: Songs like "Holiday" or "Live to Tell" are timeless — not just disposable hits. They feel like home. She has her spells of being moody and vibey and spiritual, but her words are so easy to relate to. She's a diva and does what she wants, but she's a loving person. The first time I met her was when I flew to visit her at one of her shows in 2001. I walked into her dressing room, and her daughter, Lola, was there, and I felt really nervous. I said to Madonna, "Can I just hug you?" I was so stupid! But she was so nice about it. I would definitely not be here, doing what I'm doing, if it wasn't for Madonna. I remember being eight or nine years old, running around my living room singing and dancing and wanting so much to be like her. All my girlfriends still listen to her stuff. We're all mesmerized by her. Madonna's stage presence has inspired so many artists. You can see her influence in the recent generations of artists who have picked up some of her moves and have been influenced by her style. Madonna has done so much, and she's been around so long, and the bitch still looks good! She's spent years in the public eye, and that can be really hard for anyone to deal with. But she dug deep and started writing from her heart. Madonna has so much light inside her, and she's so much more noticeable than all of the rest of us. She stuck to what she believed in and did what she felt. It's part of her art — to just be herself. ILLUSTRATION BY TIM O'BRIEN 35 Michael Jackson By Antonio "L.A." Reid Michael Jackson was the world's greatest entertainer. One of the most explosive performances I've ever witnessed was Jackson sliding across the stage at the Motown 25th-anniversary show. Just watching that made us all know: That's what greatness is, and anything that doesn't measure up to that is beneath greatness. Before him there were the Beatles and Elvis and Frank Sinatra; Michael Jackson takes his place right alongside those greats. I was born around the same time as Michael, and I was one of the original fans. I first saw him at the Ohio State Fair, when I was very young; the Jackson 5 were performing with the Commodores. Michael came on, and that voice of his rang over the whole fairground. I was deeply touched by that voice from the very beginning. "Billie Jean" is the most important record he made, not only because of its commercial success but because of the musical depth of the record. It has more hooks in it than anything I've ever heard. Everything in that song was catchy, and every instrument was playing a different hook. You could separate it into 12 different musical pieces and I think you'd have 12 different hits. Every day, I look for that kind of song. Michael has influenced so many artists, some of whom are picking up on the grandeur and showmanship of his live performances. You can see his influence in his sister Janet, in Justin Timberlake, Usher, Britney Spears, and in Justin Bieber and so many others. You can see his influence in the dance moves — the syncopated choreography — that a lot of young artists use. And a lot of them have picked up his work ethic. When you look at a Justin Timberlake production or an Usher production, you really see that they took a page out of Michael's book; they went to rehearsal, and they must've worked eight hours a day, because their shows are flawless, as Michael's shows were flawless. Late in his life, there were many, many people who thought of Michael as a spectacle, and it was sad. The world without Michael Jackson is a very, very different world. And I think we should all feel very blessed that an artist of that caliber came into our lives, because he enriched our lives. ILLUSTRATION BY GERARD DUBOIS 34 Neil Young By Flea There's a rare contradiction in Neil Young's work. He works so hard as a songwriter, and he's written a phenomenal number of perfect songs. And, at the same time, he doesn't give a f***. That comes from caring about essence. There can be things out of tune and all wild-sounding and not recorded meticulously. And he doesn't care. He's made whole albums that aren't great, and instead of going back to a formula that he knows works, he would rather represent where he is at the time. That's what's so awesome: watching his career wax and wane according to the truth of his character at the moment. It's never phony. It's always real. The truth is not always perfect. I can't say enough about how much I love Crazy Horse. The sound is so deep, the groove is so deep — even when they're off, it still sounds great, because they feel it so much. I don't usually go for that approach. I like Sly and the Family Stone, Miles Davis and Mingus. I like consummate steady musicianship. I grew up on jazz. I didn't listen to rock music until I played in my first rock band when I was in high school. I went from progressive to Hendrix to funk to full-on L.A. punk. That's when I had the realization that emotion and content, no matter how simple, were valuable. A great one-chord punk song became as important to me as a Coltrane solo, and I've had the same feeling about Neil Young. He changed the way I thought about rock music. As a bass player, I used to be into very boisterous, syncopated and rhythmically complex songs. After hearing Neil, I appreciated simplicity, the poignancy of "less is more." My favorite Neil album is Zuma, with "Pardon My Heart" and "Lookin' for a Love": "But I hope I treat her kind/And don't mess with her mind/When she starts to see the darker side of me." And "Tell Me Why," on After the Gold Rush — when he says, "Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself/When you're old enough to repay but young enough to sell?" it feels like me. I know I'm not alone. Tonight's the Night is probably the greatest raw rock record ever made, on a level with the Stooges' Fun House or any Hendrix album. It's such a mess, with stuff recorded so loud that it distorts. The background vocals are completely out of tune. And I wouldn't change a note. It's the spirit of what rock music is, and it's the reason to play rock music. Neil is the guy I look at when I think about getting older in a rock band and still having dignity and relevance and honesty. He's never, ever sold out, and he's never pretended to be anything other than what he is. The Chili Peppers get offers all the time to sell songs for commercials. Maybe we could whor* ourselves out for the right price someday. But I always think, "Would Neil Young do this?" And the answer is no. Neil Young wouldn't f***in' do it. ILLUSTRATION BY DAN BROWN 33 The Everly Brothers By Paul Simon The roots of the Everly Brothers are very, very deep in the soil of American culture. First of all, you should know that the Everly Brothers were child stars. They had a radio show with their family, and their father, Ike, was an influential country guitar player, so he attracted other significant musicians to the Everlys' world — among them Merle Travis and Chet Atkins, who was instrumental in getting the Everlys on the Grand Ole Opry. Perhaps even more powerfully than Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers melded country with the emerging sound of Fifties rock & roll. They were exposed to extraordinary country-roots music, and so they brought with them the legacy of the great brother groups like the Delmore Brothers and the Blue Sky Boys into the Fifties, where they mingled with the other early rock pioneers and made history in the process. The Everly Brothers' impact exceeds even their fame. They were a big influence on John Lennon and Paul McCartney — who called themselves the Foreverly Brothers early on — and, of course, on Simon and Garfunkel. When we were kids, Artie and I got our rock & roll chops from the Everlys. Later, as Simon and Garfunkel, we put "Bye Bye Love" on Bridge Over Troubled Water, and much later, Phil and Don both sang on the song "Graceland." Before the Everly Brothers joined Artie and me on the road in 2003, Phil and Don had actually quietly retired three years earlier. They basically came out of retirement for us. I said, "Phil, look, if you're going to retire, you might as well come out one more time and take a bow and let me at least say what it is that you meant to us and to the culture." You know, the Everlys have a long history of knocking each other down, as brothers can do. So in a certain sense, it was hilarious that the four of us were doing this tour, given our collective histories of squabbling. And it's amazing, because they hadn't seen each other in about three years. They met in the parking lot before the first gig. They unpacked their guitars — those famous black guitars — and they opened their mouths and started to sing. And after all those years, it was still that sound I fell in love with as a kid. It was still perfect. ILLUSTRATION BY ROB DAY 32 Smokey Robinson and the Miracles By Bob Seger I used to go to the Motown revues, and the Miracles always closed the show. They were that good, and everybody knew it. Not flash at all. The Supremes had bigger hits. The Temptations had the better dance moves. The Miracles did it with pure music. Back then the radio played the rougher stuff, like "Do You Love Me," by the Contours, only at night. Smokey Robinson — they played him all day. Everybody loved his songs, and he had a leg up on all the other singers, with that slightly raspy, very high voice. Smokey was smoky. He could rasp in falsetto, which is hard to do and perfect for a sad ballad like "The Tears of a Clown" or "The Tracks of My Tears." Smokey wrote his own stuff, so he had an originality or individualism that maybe the other Motown greats didn't. He was a lyric man as well as a melody man, a musicians' musician. It's kinda like Hollywood, where you have the star, and then you have the actors' actor. Gene Hackman — when was the last time that guy gave a bad performance? Smokey was the Gene Hackman of Motown. I grew up in the black neighborhoods of Ann Arbor, Michigan, so I didn't think in terms of black music or white music. It was all just music to me. Smokey's first hit, "Shop Around," was one of the first records I bought. Later on, when my brother went into the service and I was the sole support of my mother, I was playing bars six nights a week, five 45-minute sets a night. This was '63-'67, and I could make the most money playing in a trio. We had a medley of six Smokey songs that we played at least twice every night: "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," "Shop Around," "Bad Girl," "Way Over There" and a couple of others. It was a survival move — the people demanded it. Also, if you were after a girl in the audience, it was always a good idea to do some Smokey. Smokey was also known as the nicest guy at Motown, which you hear in his voice. I used to do a Canadian television show called Swingin' Time, and everyone from Detroit would show up: the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations. All of them nice people, but Smokey was particularly a gentleman. I saw him again around '87 at an awards show. I was able to tell him how much I appreciated his writing, and all the money I made playing his songs in bars. I have great memories. Thank you, Smokey. ILLUSTRATION BY MARC BURCKHARDT 31 Johnny Cash By Kris Kristofferson Johnny Cash was a biblical character. He was like some old preacher, one of those dangerous old wild ones. He was like a hero you'd see in a Western. He was a giant. And he never lost that stature. I don't think we'll see anyone like him again. Of course, the first thing he'll be remembered for is the power and originality of his music. The first time I heard Johnny Cash was when he released "I Walk the Line" in 1956. It was unlike anything I'd ever heard. Elvis had had a lot of hits by that point, but "I Walk the Line" was completely different. It didn't sound much like any of the country music that was popular at the time, either. There was always a kind of dark energy around John and his music. My first hero, when I was a kid, was Hank Williams, and he had a similar energy. You could tell they were both wild men. As a songwriter, I've always loved his lyrics. At the beginning of his career, John released a bunch of powerful songs in a very short time. For me, the best one was always "Big River." It's so well-written, so unlike anything else. The lines don't even seem to rhyme. "I met her accidentally in St. Paul, Minnesota/And it tore me up every time I heard her drawl." His imagery was so powerful: "Then you took me to St. Louis later on, down the river/A freighter said she's been here/But she's gone, boy, she's gone/I found her trail in Memphis/But she just walked up the bluff/She raised a few eyebrows, and then she went on down alone." The first time I saw John live, I was on leave from the Army, visiting Nashville. He was playing the Grand Ole Opry, and I was watching from backstage — and he was the most exciting performer I'd ever seen. At the time, he was skinnier than a snake, and he was just electric. He used to prowl the stage like a panther. He looked like he might explode up there. And in fact, there were times when he did. One night at the Opry, he knocked out all of the footlights. I think they banned him for a while after that. But they banned Hank Williams, too. They were a pretty conservative crowd. The main thing about John, though — the thing that everybody could sense — was his integrity, the integrity of his relationship with his music, with his life and with other people. He stood up for Bob Dylan when everyone in the music business was criticizing Dylan for going electric. And he did the same for me, in the Eighties, when I was taking a lot of criticism for going down to Nicaragua. That's the kind of guy he always was. He stood up for the underdog. I thought that The Man Comes Around, one of the last albums John did, was terrific. His version of "Danny Boy" kills me every time. I think he'll be remembered for the way he grew as a person and an artist. He went from being this guy who was as wild as Hank Williams to being almost as respected as one of the fathers of our country. He was friends with presidents and with Billy Graham. You felt like he should've had his face on Mount Rushmore. ILLUSTRATION BY TIM O'BRIEN 30 Nirvana By Iggy Pop The first time I saw Nirvana was at the Pyramid Club, a rank, wonderful, anything-goes dive bar on Avenue A in New York. It wasn't known for having live bands; it was known more for cross-dressing and bar dancing. I had a photographer friend, and he told me, "There's a really hot band from Seattle you have to see. They're gonna play the Pyramid, of all places!" You could smell the talent on Kurt Cobain. He had this sort of elfin delivery, but it was not naval gazing. He was jumping around and throwing himself into every number. He'd sort of hunch over his guitar like an evil little troll, but you heard this throaty power in his voice. At the end of the set he tossed himself into the drums. It was one of maybe 15 performances I've seen where rock & roll is very, very good. After that, I bought Bleach, and listened to it in Europe and Asia on tour. I still like this album very much, but there was one song, "About a Girl," that's not like the rest of the album. It sounded like someone gave Thorazine to the Beatles. And I thought, "If he puts out a record full of that, he's gonna get really rich." And sure enough … I met Kurt at a club in L.A. right before Nevermind came out. We took a picture and he said, "Come on, let's give the finger!" So we did. I bought Nevermind and I thought, "This has really got it." Nirvana genuinely achieved dynamics. They took you down, they took you up, and when they pressed a certain button, they took you over. They rocked without rushing and they managed melody without being insipid. It was emotional without sounding dated or corny or weak. Some time later, Kurt reached out to me. I missed the call, but my wife took the message: "Kurt Cobain wants to go into the studio with you." See, I'm 113 years old now; I was about 72 in the Nineties, so I was going to bed at, like, 10 p.m., and he was just getting going around 11. I did call him back a couple of times. The number was from the Four Seasons in L.A., and I would get these responses like, "Mr. Cobain has not left the room for three days" or "Mr. Cobain is under the bed." As for his legacy: He was Johnny B. Goode. He was the last example that I can think of within rock & roll where a poor kid with no family backup from a small, rural area effected a serious emotional explosion in a significant sector of world youth. It was not made in Hollywood. There were no chrome parts. It was very down-home at its root. Somebody who is truly nobody from nowhere reached out and touched the world. He may have touched it right on its wound. ILLUSTRATION BY JOSIE JAMMET 29 The Who By Eddie Vedder The Who began as spectacle. They became spectacular. Early on, the band was in pure demolition mode; later, on albums like Tommy and Quadrophenia, it coupled that raw energy with precision and desire to complete musical experiments on a grand scale. They asked, "What were the limits of rock & roll? Could the power of music actually change the way you feel?" Pete Townshend demanded that there be spiritual value in music. They were an incredible band whose main songwriter happened to be on a quest for reason and harmony in his life. He shared that journey with the listener, becoming an inspiration for others to seek out their own path. They did all this while also being in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's loudest band. Presumptuously, I speak for all Who fans when I say being a fan of the Who has incalculably enriched my life. What disturbs me about the Who is the way they smashed through every door of rock & roll, leaving rubble and not much else for the rest of us to lay claim to. In the beginning they took on an arrogance when, as Pete says, "We were actually a very ordinary group." As they became accomplished, this attitude stuck. Therein lies the thread to future punks. They wanted to be louder, so they had Jim Marshall invent the 100-watt amp. Needed more volume, so they began stacking them. It is said that some of the first guitar feedback ever to make it to record was on "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere," in 1965. The Who told stories within the confines of a song and, over the course of an entire album, pushed boundaries. How big of a story could be told? And how would it transmit (pre-video screens, etc.) to a large crowd? Smash the instruments? Keith Moon said they wanted to grab the audience by the balls. Pete countered that like the German auto-destructive movement, where they made sculpture that would collapse and buildings that would explode, it was high art. I was around nine when a baby sitter snuck Who's Next onto the turntable. The parents were gone. The windows shook. The shelves were rattling. Rock & roll. That began an exploration into music that had soul, rebellion, aggression, affection. Destruction. And this was all Who music. There was the mid-Sixties maximum- R&B period, mini-operas, Woodstock, solo records. Imagine, as a kid, stumbling upon the locomotive that is Live at Leeds. "Hi, my name is Eddie. I'm 10 years old and I'm getting my f***ing mind blown!" The Who on record were dynamic. Roger Daltrey's delivery allowed vulnerability without weakness; doubt and confusion, but no plea for sympathy. (You should hear Roger's vocal on a song called "Lubie [Come Back Home]," a bonus track from the reissue of their first album, The Who Sings My Generation. It's top-gear.) The Who quite possibly remain the greatest live band ever. Even the list-driven punk legend and music historian Johnny Ramone agreed with me on this. You can't explain Keith Moon or his playing. John Entwistle was an enigma unto himself, another virtuoso musical oddity. Roger turned his mic into a weapon, seemingly in self-defense. All the while, Pete was leaping into the rafters wielding a Seventies Gibson Les Paul, which happens to be a stunningly heavy guitar. As a live group, they created momentum, and they seemed to be released by the ritual of their playing. (Check out "A Quick One While He's Away," from the Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus.) A few years ago in Chicago, I saw Pete wring notes out of his guitar like a mechanic squeezing oil from a rag. I watched as the guitar became a living being, one getting its body bashed and its neck strangled. As Pete set it down, I swear I sensed relief coming from that guitar. A Stratocaster with sweat on it. The guitar's sweat. John and Keith made the Who what they were. Roger was the rock. And at this point, Pete has been through and survived more than anyone in rock royalty. Perhaps even beyond Keith Richards, who was actually guilty of most things he was accused of. The songwriter-listener relationship grows deeper after all the years. Pete saw that a celebrity in rock is charged by the audience with a function, like, "You stand there and we will know ourselves." Not "You stand there and we will pay you loads of money to keep us entertained as we eat our oysters." He saw the connection could be profound. He also realized the audience may say, "When we're finished with you, we'll replace you with somebody else." For myself and so many others (including shopkeepers, foremen, professionals, bellboys, gravediggers, directors, musicians), they won't be replaced. Yes, Pete, it's true, music can change you. ILLUSTRATION BY CHRISTIAN CLAYTON 28 The Clash By The Edge The Clash, more than any other group, kick-started a thousand garage bands across Ireland and the U.K. For U2 and other people of our generation, seeing them perform was a life-changing experience. There's really no other way to describe it. I can vividly remember when I first saw the Clash. It was in Dublin in October 1977. They were touring behind their first album, and they played a 1,200-capacity venue at Trinity College. Dublin had never seen anything like it. It really had a massive impact around here, and I still meet people who are in the music business today — maybe they are DJs, maybe they are in bands — because they saw that show. U2 were a young band at the time, and it was a complete throw-down to us. It was like: Why are you in music? What the hell is music all about, anyway? The members of the Clash were not world-class musicians by any means, but the racket they made was undeniable — the pure, visceral energy and the anger and the commitment. They were raw in every sense, and they were not ashamed that they were about much more than playing with precision and making sure the guitars were in tune. This wasn't just entertainment. It was a life-and-death thing. They made it possible for us to take our band seriously. I don't think that we would have gone on to become the band we are if it wasn't for that concert and that band. There it was. They showed us what you needed. And it was all about heart. The social and political content of the songs was a huge inspiration, certainly for U2. It was the call to wake up, get wise, get angry, get political and get noisy about it. It's interesting that the members were quite different characters. Paul Simonon had an art-school background, and Joe Strummer was the son of a diplomat. But you really sensed they were comrades in arms. They were completely in accord, railing against injustice, railing against a system they were just sick of. And they thought it had to go. I saw them a couple of times after the Dublin show, and they always had something fresh going on. It's a shame that they weren't around longer. The music they made is timeless. It's got so much fighting spirit, so much heart, that it just doesn't age. You can still hear it in Green Day and No Doubt, Nirvana and the Pixies, certainly U2. They meant it, and you can hear it in their work. ILLUSTRATION BY STERLING HUNDLEY 27 Prince By Ahmir Thompson Prince was forbidden in my closed, Christian household. He was somewhere between Richard Pryor — whom we absolutely couldn't listen to — and a stash of p*rn. In junior high, my parents would put $30 or $40 in an envelope, and that would buy a card that would cover a month of school lunches. It was November of 1982, and I took my $36 and purchased Prince's 1999, What Time Is It?, by the Time, and the Vanity 6 album. I starved that whole month. "Little Red Corvette" from 1999 was one of the first regularly played songs by a black artist on MTV; Prince crossed boundaries like that all the time. In the first five songs on Sign 'O' the Times, he sprawls across James Brown, Joni Mitchell, Pink Floyd, the Beatles and Curtis Mayfield in five easy swoops and maintains his own identity. But it's Purple Rain that was a crowning achievement, not only in Prince's career but for black life — or how blacks were perceived — in the Eighties. It's the equivalent of Michael Jordan's 1997 championship games: He was absolutely just in the zone, every shot was going in. "When Doves Cry" is one of the most radical Number One songs of the past 25 years. Here's a song with no bass line in it, hardly any music. Yet it's still had such an influence; "When Doves Cry" is a precursor to the Neptunes' one-note funk grind, a masterpiece of song with just a drum machine and very little melody. Purple Rain was a great movie too. Anyone who saw Eminem's biopic, 8 Mile, if they're over 35, the first words out of their mouth are, "Oh, I liked that film the first time I saw it back in the Eighties. It was this Prince movie called Purple Rain." Prince must be one of the most bootlegged artists of the rock era — on a weekly basis I listen to a bootleg called The Dream Factory, which would later be known as Sign 'O' the Times. His ability to create on the spot is mind-boggling. Like a hip-hop MC freestyling, he executes ideas off the top of his head in a very convincing manner. But there must be at least 20 ways to prove that hip-hop is damn-near patterned after Prince, including his genius, blatant use of sexuality and the use of controversy as a way to get attention. I don't think any artist before had used that level of sex to get in the door and be accepted by the mainstream. I wonder what his mind state was in 1981, standing onstage in kiddie briefs, leg warmers and high heels without a Number One hit. That was a risk. Also, Prince created the image of what we now know as the video ho — he was a pioneer of objectifying and empowering women at the same time. Jay-Z often talks about ghostwriting for other artists; Prince is notorious for ghostwriting. Not only that, but he invented different aliases for himself in a way that rappers have adopted — he was Jamie Starr, Joey Coco or Alexander Nevermind. I met Prince in 1996, and I was prepared for the grasshopper voice, the one that he always uses at award shows, but he was totally normal. Just like you and me, except he's Prince. We played together a few times, and one of my hero moments of all time is after a concert in New York when me, him and D'Angelo got onstage and played for about a half-hour. His period of silence about a decade ago bothered me. It was really a shame that his fight for independence from the labels was a David and Goliath battle that he had to fight alone. But judging from what he's done lately, I'm happy to say that he hasn't lost a step in his 30 years of doing it. He seems as young and as in charge as ever. He definitely seizes the moment. In case a few people counted him out, he's got a few trump cards up his sleeve. ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS KASCH 26 The Ramones By Lenny Kaye Every rock & roll generation needs reminding of why it picks up a guitar in the first place, and four nonbrothers from the borough of Queens had a concept that was almost too perfect. Their look — ripped jeans, tight T-shirt, high-top sneakers, bowl haircut and black motorcycle jacket — was a cartoon version of rock's tough-guy ethos. When they first started, they played what they knew how to play, which wasn't much, and worked it to their advantage. They opted for speed rather than complexity, they aspired to be the Beach Boys, Alice Cooper and the Bay City Rollers, and their rotational three chords and headlong lunge kept them skidding through the simpleton catchphrases of their singalongs. The Ramones were pure, unadulterated — and hardly adult in their adolescent concerns of sniffing glue and beating on brats with a baseball bat, even if the brats were themselves. Their sibling rivalry meshed like any television reality show. Johnny was the stern older brother, disciplined, military; Dee Dee was the blunt instrument; Tommy was the producer who knew the record business, and like any good producer, knew that you build a great track from the drums out. Joey was the beating heart. The Ramones had their act so together that they would change it only in increments for two decades after they took it out of the CBGB nest in 1975. They were easily understood, translatable. When the band got to England on Independence Day 1976, returning the favor of the English Invasion in a fun-house mirror, it was a frontal assault on here-we-go-again pop subculture. The Ramones always believed in their music's message of self-deliverance. They affirmed that if they could do it, you could do it; just be resolute. Count to four. When I think of a Ramones moment, I remember not the early years — when the bands played for each other on the Bowery, and each was like a different world — but a late afternoon in May, somewhere in New England, a daylong festival, maybe the early Eighties. I'm standing backstage with Johnny, and we're talking about nothing much, guitars we've known, the Red Sox, and finally the conversation stops, and we just look around, quiet in the midst of electric noise, seeing where rock & roll has brought us on this beautiful afternoon, playing the music we love. ILLUSTRATION BYA DAN ADEL 25 Fats Domino By Dr. John After John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Fats Domino and his partner, Dave Bartholomew, were probably the greatest team of songwriters ever. They always had a simple melody, a hip set of chord changes and a cool groove. And their songs all had simple lyrics; that’s the key. There are no deep plots in Fats Domino songs: “Yes, it’s me, and I’m in love again/Had no lovin’ since you know when/You know I love you, yes I do/And I’m savin’ all my lovin’ just for you.” It don’t get no simpler than that. Even when Fats Domino did songs by somebody else, it was still Fats. He could really lock in with his band and play those hard-driving boogie shuffles — it was pre-funk stuff, and it was New Orleans, and he did it all his way. One thing that most people miss, which he did on some of his biggest records, like “Blueberry Hill”: He could do piano rolls with both hands. A couple of guys, like Allen Toussaint, could do Fats to a T, but with Fats, there was brothsome little different thing. He was like Thelonious Monk that way. You can always tell when it’s Monk and when it’s somebody trying to play like Monk. I give a lot of credit to Dave Bartholomew, Fats’ producer and songwriting partner. They were a team. Dave produced records perfect for Fats. He had the sense to go with the best-feeling take when they were recording. People would have missed something great about Fats if they had just heard the more “correct” takes — the ones without that extra off-the-wall thing that Fats would bring. You can’t hardly hear the bass on some of Fats’ early records. Later, they started doubling the bass line with the guitar, and it made for a very distinctive sound. That became standard with Phil Spector. I don’t know if Phil picked it up from Fats or from somebody who picked it up from Fats, but it started with Fats. You can hear a lot of Fats in Jerry Lee Lewis. Anytime anybody plays a slow blues, the piano player will eventually get to something like Fats. I can’t tell you the number of times I played sessions and was asked specifically to do Fats. Eighty kajillion little bands all through the South — we all had to play Fats Domino songs. Everybody, everywhere. Fats is old school to the max — he loved to work the house, do looooong shows and push the piano across the stage with his belly. That innocence is there in his music. He’s a good man, and people respond to that goodness. I don’t think it was about anything other than the tradition of working the house and what felt good to Fats. When all the payola scandals were happening and it looked bad for rock & roll, Fats did an interview in some magazine. He said, “I don’t know what all the trouble is about us being a bad influence on teenagers. I’m just playing the same music I played all my life.” That’s what Fats was about. He didn’t look on what he did as special or different. He just did what Fats did. ILLUSTRATION BY JODY HEWGILL 24 Jerry Lee Lewis By Moby I'd be curious to know how many pianos Jerry Lee Lewis has gone through in his lifetime. Whoever was responsible for keeping the piano in tune and making sure it didn't fall apart at Sun Studio must have wept every time he showed up to play. I don't know what switch got flipped in his brain when he was born that compelled him to play so fast and so hard, but I'm glad it got flipped. There's a perhaps apocryphal story that when he and his cousin, the evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, were children, they went to a roadhouse and listened through the window to some amazing R&B band. Jimmy Swaggart supposedly said, "This is the devil's music! We have to leave!" But Jerry Lee just stood there transfixed and couldn't tear himself away. He was an evangelist for the devil's music. If you listen to his records, they sound more punk rock than just about anything any contemporary punk band is doing. His records sound faster than they actually are, and they sound louder than they actually are. If you listen to them on a crummy little stereo on low volume, they still sound like they're exploding out of the speakers. Whether it's Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard or Gene Vincent, these guys were dripping sex and anarchy. Their records all have a sense of abandon, like they had given up all hope of commercial success or ever being respected, so they just wanted to play crazy music and get laid. If I had a daughter, I wouldn't let her date a musician, because most of them are just too dumb. In Jerry Lee's case, if he were coming over for dinner, I would literally lock her up. The story of him marrying his 13-year-old cousin is unbearably sad. Elvis had just been drafted, Jerry Lee was about to tour England for the first time, and the scandal broke. He was never able to ascend to the throne that was rightfully his. And the piano faded because it was too big and too hard to mic. The beauty of the electric guitar is that it's small, portable, loud and easy to mic. "Great Balls of Fire" and "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On" are the iconic singles. But if you really want to understand Jerry Lee Lewis, find some video performance of him doing "Great Balls of Fire." It's pure, narcotic rock & roll excitement. ILLUSTRATION BY OWEN SMITH 23 Bruce Springsteen By Jackson Browne In many ways, Bruce Springsteen is the embodiment of rock & roll. Combining strains of Appalachian music, rockabilly, blues and R&B, his work epitomizes rock's deepest values: desire, the need for freedom and the search to find yourself. All through his songs there is a generosity and a willingness to portray even the simplest aspects of our lives in a dramatic and committed way. The first time I heard him play was at a small club, the Bitter End in New York, where he did a guest set. It was just an amazing display of lyrical prowess. I asked him where he was from, and he sort of grinned and said he was from New Jersey. The next time I saw him play it was with his band, the one with David Sancious in it. I'd never seen anybody do what he was doing: He would play acoustic guitar and dance all over the place, and the guitar wasn't plugged into anything. There wasn't this meticulous need to have every note heard. It filled that college gym with so much emotion that it didn't matter if you couldn't hear every note. A year or so later I saw him play in L.A., with Max Weinberg, Clarence Clemons and Steve Van Zandt in the band, and it was even more dramatic — the use of lights and the way it was staged. There were these events built into the music. I went to see them the second night, and I guess I expected it to be the same thing, but it was completely different. It was obvious that they were drawing on a vocabulary. It was exhilarating, and at the bottom of it all there was all this joy and fun and a sense of brotherhood, of being outsiders who had tremendous power and a story to tell. Bruce has been unafraid to take on the tasks associated with growing up. He's a family man, with kids and the same values and concerns as working-class Americans. It runs all through his work, the idea of finding that one person and making a life together. Look at "Rosalita": Her mother doesn't like him, her father doesn't like him, but he's coming for her. Or in "The River," where he gets Mary pregnant and for his 19th birthday he gets a union card and a wedding coat. That night they go to the river and dive in. For those of us who are ambivalent about marriage, the struggle for love in a world of impermanence is summed up by the two of them diving into that river at night. Bruce's songs are filled with these images, but they aren't exclusively the images of working-class people. It just happens to be where he's from. Bruce has all kinds of influences, from Chuck Berry and Gary U.S. Bonds to Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. But he's also a lot like Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando and James Dean — people whose most indistinct utterances have been magnified to communicate volumes. He is one of the few songwriters who works on a scale that is capable of handling the subject of our national grief and the need to find a response to an event like September 11th. His sense of music as a healing power, of band-as-church, has always been there. He's got his feet planted on either side of that great divide between rebellion and redemption. ILLUSTRATION BY ANITA KUNZ 22 U2 By Chris Martin I don't buy weekend tickets to Ireland and hang out in front of their gates, but U2 are the only band whose entire catalog I know by heart. The first song on The Unforgettable Fire, "A Sort of Homecoming," I know backward and forward — it's so rousing, brilliant and beautiful. It's one of the first songs I played to my unborn baby. The first U2 album I ever heard was Achtung Baby. It was 1991, and I was 14 years old. Before that, I didn't even know what albums were. From that point, I worked backward — every six months, I'd get to buy a new U2 album. The sound they pioneered — the driving bass and drums underneath and those ethereal, effects-laden guitar tracks floating out from above — was nothing that had been heard before. They may be the only good anthemic rock band ever. Certainly they're the best. What I love most about U2 is that the band is more important than any of its songs or albums. I love that they're still best mates and that they each play an integral role in one another's lives as friends. I love the way that they're not interchangeable — if Larry Mullen Jr. wants to go scuba diving for a week, the rest of the band can't do a thing. U2 — like Coldplay — maintain that all songs that appear on their albums are credited to the band. And they are the only band that's been around for more than 30 years with no member changes and no big splits. It's amazing that the biggest band in the world has so much integrity and passion in its music. Our society is thoroughly screwed, fame is a ridiculous waste of time, and celebrity culture is disgusting. There are only a few people around brave enough to talk out against it, who use their fame in a good way. And every time I try, I feel like an idiot, because I see Bono actually getting things achieved. While everyone else was swearing at George Bush, Bono was the one who rubbed Bush's back and got a billion dollars for Africa. People can be so cynical — they don't like do-gooders — but Bono's attitude is, "I don't care what anybody thinks, I'm going to speak out." He's accomplished so much with Greenpeace, in Sarajevo, at the concert to shut down the Sellafield nuclear plant, and he still runs the gantlet. When the time came for Coldplay to think about fair trade, we took his lead to speak out regardless of what anyone may think. That's what we've learned from U2: You have to be brave enough to be yourself. ILLUSTRATION BY DALE STEPHANOS 21 Otis Redding By Steve Cropper The first time we saw Otis Redding was in 1962, and he was driving a car for Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers out of Macon, Georgia. They had a moderate hit, an instrumental called "Love Twist," and they wanted to record a follow-up in Memphis with my band, Booker T. and the MGs. I saw this big guy get out from behind the wheel and go to the back of the truck and start unloading equipment. That was Otis. And we had no idea he was also a singer. In those days, instrumental groups always carried a singer so they could play the songs on the radio that the kids wanted to dance to. We had a few minutes left at the end of the session, and Al Jackson, our drummer, said, "This guy with Johnny, he wants us to hear him sing." Booker had already left for the day, so I sat down at the piano, which I play only a little for writing. Otis said, "Just gimme those church things." We call them triplets in music. I said, "What key?" He said, "It don't matter." He started singing "These Arms of Mine." And, man, my hair stood on end. Jim [Stewart, co-owner of Stax] came running out and said, "That's it! That's it! Where is everybody? We gotta get this on tape!" So I grabbed all the musicians who hadn't left already for their night gigs, and we recorded it right there. When you hear something that's better than anything you ever heard, you know it, and it was unanimous. We almost wore out the tape playing it afterward. "These Arms of Mine" was the first of 17 hit singles he had in a row. Otis had the softness of Sam Cooke and the harshness of Little Richard, and he was his own man. He was also fabulous to be around, always 100 percent full of energy. So many singers in those days, with all due respect, had just been in the business too long. They were bitter from the way they were treated. But Otis didn't have that. He was probably the most nonprejudiced human being I ever met. He seemed to be big in every way: physically, in his talent, in his wisdom about other people. After he died, I was surprised to find out I was the same age as he was, because I looked up to him as an older brother. When I wrote with Otis, my job was to help him finish his songs. He had so many ideas that I'd just pick one and say, "Let's do this," and we'd write all night long. "I Can't Turn You Loose" was just a riff I'd used on a few songs with the MGs. Otis worked it up with the horns in about 10 minutes as the last thing we did one night in the studio. Just a riff and one verse that he sings over and over. That's all it is. With Otis, it was all about feeling and expression. Most of his songs had just two or three chord changes, so there wasn't a lot of music there. The dynamics, the energy, the way we attacked it — that's hard to teach. So many things now are computer-generated. They start at one level and they stop at the same level, so there isn't much dynamic, even if there are a lot of different sounds. I miss Otis. I miss him as much now as I did after we lost him. I've been to the lake in Madison, Wisconsin, where they have the plaque. The best explanation I've read is that his plane missed the runway on the first approach, and it circled around over the lake when the wings iced up. That was December 10th, 1967. It's been difficult for me to listen to Otis since then. It brings back too many memories, all great except for the end. ILLUSTRATION BY MARK SUMMERS 20 Bo Diddley By Iggy Pop Bo Diddley's music is enormous. It's deeply moving. It has the sultry, sexual power of Africa. There's all sorts of mystery in that sound. People listen to Bo Diddley recordings and think, "Oh, you can just go bonk-de-bonk-bonk, de-bonk-bonk, and you got a Bo Diddley beat." But it isn't that easy. He played really simple things but with incredible authority. I first heard him on a Rolling Stones album, on their cover of "Mona." It was such a great song; I looked at the credits and it said "Ellas McDaniel," and I thought, "Who the hell is that?" But when I wanted to get into songwriting, he was the key for me. I didn't have a lot of vocal range, and I didn't know a lot of chords on the guitar. So I was looking for a way to write, and there he was, writing very complete, very memorable songs without a lot of fuss. They weren't florid. He never bothered to change the chord, for one thing — which is very heavy-metal! It's hypnotic. And, of course, there's the attitude, a chin-up, chest-out sort of thing. He was a bull; he had a bullish quality to everything he did and everything he played. Vocally, he reminds me of gutbucket Delta blues: Muddy Waters, but brought to town, rocked up. And his voice is so damn loud. It's just a huge voice, and he's got a big, deep shout. Then there's the way he played the guitar. First of all, Bo's hands were about a foot long from the wrist to the tip of the finger. He really controlled his guitar. Bo plays his instrument, and the way the rhythm clicks is unique. What seems to pass for guitar more and more now is some wimp with a fuzz box. Somewhere around Hendrix, the line was crossed. Hendrix had both: He had the hands, and he had the fuzz box. Now all they have is the fuzz box — a lot of them. Bo Diddley had a huge impact on Sixties rock. The Stones covered Bo Diddley, and the Yardbirds did "I'm a Man," and the Pretty Things did his song "Pretty Thing." My band in high school, the Iguanas, did a few of his songs, including "Road Runner," and you can hear a bit of him in the Stooges. You can be damn well sure that Jack White has studied Bo's records. I've had a little personal experience with Bo. I worked with him in Vegas once, and I kept running into him on airplanes in the Eighties and Nineties — always in first class, always alone, always with a roll bag, his police hat and his sheriff's badge. I think Bo and Chuck Berry have both suffered the trivialization of people who are covered too much. His influence is everywhere, but his personal career could have used a boost. Some car or jeans company needs to put a track of his in a commercial so a lot of young dudes and dudettes can go, "Whoa — that's rockin'!" ILLUSTRATION BY JOSIE JAMMET 19 The Velvet Underground By Julian Casablancas When you listen to a classic-rock station today, why don't they play the Velvet Underground? Why is it always Boston and Led Zeppelin? And why are the Rolling Stones so much more popular than the Velvets? OK, I understand why the Stones are more popular. But there is also a part of me that has always felt that it should have been the other way around. The Velvet Underground were way ahead of their time. And their music was weird. But it also made so much sense to me. I couldn't believe this wasn't the most popular music ever made. Listening to those four studio albums now is like reading a good book that takes place in a distant time. When I hear The Velvet Underground and Nico or Loaded, I feel like I'm in Andy Warhol's Factory in the 1960s or hanging out at Max's Kansas City. The way Lou Reed wrote and sang about drugs and sex, about the people around him — it was so matter-of-fact. I believed every word of "Heroin." Reed could be romantic in the way he portrayed these crazy situations, but he was also intensely real. It was poetry and journalism. A lot of people associate the Velvets with feedback and noise. White Light/White Heat is the kind of record you have to be in the mood for. You have to be in a s***ty bar, in a really s***ty mood. But the Velvets created some very beautiful music, too: "Sunday Morning," with John Cale's viola; "Candy Says"; "All Tomorrow's Parties" — I can't imagine that song without Nico singing it, although I thought Maureen Tucker had a cool voice, as well as being a really cool drummer. She had a femininity. I thought she sounded hotter than Nico. In the beginning, the Strokes definitely drew from the vibe of the Velvets. I listened to Loaded all the time when we started the band, while I was writing my first songs. For four solid months, it was just Loaded and this Beach Boys greatest-hits record, Made in the U.S.A. A lot of our guitar tones are based on what Reed and Sterling Morrison did. I honestly wish we could have copied them more. We didn't come close enough. But that was cool, because it became more of our own thing. Which is something else I got from the Velvets. They taught me just to be myself. ILLUSTRATION BY ANDREA VENTURA 18 Marvin Gaye By Smokey Robinson At Motown, Marvin was one of the main characters in the greatest musical story ever told. Prior to that, nothing quite like Motown had ever existed — all those songwriters, singers, producers working and growing together, part family, part business — and I doubt seriously if it will ever happen like that again. And there's no question that Marvin will always be a huge part of the Motown legacy. When Marvin first came to Motown, he was the drummer on all the early hits I had with the Miracles. He and I became close friends — he was my brother, really — and I did a lot of production and wrote a lot of songs for him: "Ain't That Peculiar," "I'll Be Doggone." Of course, that means that I spent a lot of time waiting for Marvin. See, Marvin was basically late coming to the studio all the time. But I never minded, because I knew that whenever Marvin did get there, he was going to sing my song in a way that I had never imagined it. He would Marvinize my songs, and I loved it. Marvin could sing anything, from gospel to gutbucket blues to jazz to pop. But Marvin was much more than just a great singer. He was a great record maker, a gifted songwriter, a deep thinker — a real artist in the true sense. What's Going On is the most profound musical statement in my lifetime. It never gets dated. I still remember when I would go by Marvin's house and he was working on it, he would say, "Smoke, this album is being written by God, and I'm just the instrument that he's writing it through." Marvin really had it all — that voice, that soul, that look, too. He was one very handsome man. He had sex appeal and his music was sexy. You couldn't blame women for falling in love with Marvin. I said before that when you worked with Marvin, it meant you were waiting for Marvin. But Marvin was always worth the wait. I suppose that in a way, I'm still waiting for Marvin. ILLUSTRATION BY SHAWN BARBER 17 Muddy Waters By Billy Gibbons Muddy and his band opened for ZZ Top on a tour in 1981. This was over 40 years after his first recordings, and that band could still play the blues, not just as seasoned pros but with the same enthusiasm Muddy had when he started out. When he sang that his mojo was working, you could tell his mojo had not slowed down at all. He was satisfied, composed, self-contained. If he had an opinion on a subject, he didn't allow a whole lot of latitude to be convinced otherwise. If he was bitter about the way he'd been treated by record companies, he never showed it. We talked to him a lot as we traveled, when he wasn't chasing young girls through the airport. He told us a story once about his friends Freddie King and Little Walter walking from Dallas to Chicago. I've always had that image in my mind of two guys walking from the South to the North. Everyone else in the great migration took the train. I hope they weren't carrying their equipment. People call his sound raw and dirty and gritty, but it wasn't particularly loud. It just sounded that way. A guitar amplifier in the Fifties was maybe the size of a tabletop radio. To be heard over a party, you had to crank that thing as loud as it would go. And then you left behind all semblance of circuit design and entered the elegant field of distortion that made everything so much deeper. If you didn't have a big band with 20 guys, you had 20 watts. I first heard Muddy Waters through two friends of mine, Walter Baldwin and Steve Roberts, in junior high in 1962 or '63. We grew up together and jumped on every piece of musical madness we could find. Most people in my generation probably discovered Muddy backwards from the Rolling Stones, who got their name from a Muddy song. I heard him just before the Stones got here, but it was all good, whether you discovered it backwards, forwards or sideways. Anyway, I picked up the guitar because of Muddy Waters as much as anyone. Jimmy Reed, Howlin' Wolf, T-Bone Walker, Albert King, B.B. King, Freddie King — they all had an impact too, but they all followed Muddy Waters. He started out in Mississippi playing acoustic, using his thumb to play the bass line and a real bottleneck slide for melody on the upper strings. The slide guitar got the nuance of the human voice better than any other instrument. Basically, it was a Robert Johnson thing, and Muddy took it to Chicago, electrified it, added a bass player and a harp with a good backbeat, and you had a party. His bands were always powerhouses, and his voice had an amazing depth. The remarkable thing is that the blues never died out, ever. It's been rediscovered every 10 years since the Twenties. Nobody can do what Muddy did, but his energy is still fueling that fire. You can hear his enthusiasm in bands like the White Stripes or the Black Keys. I'd recommend his first album, The Best of Muddy Waters, with the early Chess singles, to anyone. Every track is worthy. The albums Johnny Winter produced in the late Seventies, Hard Again and I'm Ready, are also terrific. It was all supposed to be disposable. Just noise on a shellac disc. And here we are in the 21st century still trying to figure out how such a simple art form could be so complicated and subtle. It's still firing brain synapses around the world. You've got the Japanese Muddy Waters Society corresponding with fans in Sweden and England, and his music can still propel a party in the U.S. He made three chords sound deep, and they are. ILLUSTRATION BY CHARLES MILLER 16 Sam Cooke By Art Garfunkel Sam Cooke was grounded in a very straightforward singing style: It was pure, beautiful and open-throated, extraordinarily direct and unapologetic. Let's say you're going to sing "I love you for sentimental reasons." How do you hit that "I"? Do you slur into it? Do you put in a little hidden "h"? The attack on that vowel sound is the tip-off to how bold a singer is. If you pour on the letter "i" from the back of your throat, the listener gets that there is no fudge in the first thousandth of a second. There's just confidence from the singer, that he knows the pitch, and here's the sound. That's what Sam was great at. He had guts as a singer. Sam also threw a lot of notes at you. Today you hear everyone doing those melismatic notes that Mariah Carey made popular. Sam was the first guy I remember singing that way. When he's singing, "I love you for sentimental reasons/I hope you do believe me," the next line should be, "I've given you my heart." But he goes, "I've given you my-my-mah-muh-my heart/Given you my heart because I need you." It's as if he's saying, "Now that I've sung the word, I'm going to sing it again, because I've got all this feeling in my heart that demands expression." He gave us so much that he could have given us less, and that would've been enough, but he put in all those extra notes, as in "You Send Me," where he's scatting between the lines: "I know, I know, I know, when you hold me." He had fabulous chops, but at the same time fabulous taste. I never felt that he was overdoing it, as I often feel with singers today. He stayed rhythmic and fluty and floaty; he always showed brilliant vocal control. I must have sung "You Send Me" to myself walking up and down stairwells at least a thousand times. It was on the charts right when I was having my first little success with Paul Simon as Tom and Jerry. Our "Hey, Schoolgirl" was on the charts with "You Send Me" and "Jailhouse Rock." "Jingle Bell Rock" had just come out. I was just a kid, calling on radio stations for promotional purposes, and all I heard was "You Send Me." Sam was great to sing along with. He was my hero. There was a deep sense of goodness about Sam. His father was a minister, and he obviously had spent a lot of time in church. His first success came early as a gospel singer, and he expanded into R&B and pop. It looked like he was making the right choices in life until he got shot by the night manager of a motel. You wonder who he had fallen in with. Paul Simon, James Taylor and I covered "Wonderful World," which he also wrote. It was a teenage short story like Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen" or "School Days." You're stroking the teenager's sense of style with those pop songs. Sam was a master of that idiom. "Wonderful World" was unsophisticated but very Tin Pan Alley. Sam came along before the album was discovered as an art form. You think of him in terms of songs. My favorites are "Sad Mood," "Wonderful World," "Summertime," "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons" and "You Send Me." I think that "A Change Is Gonna Come" shows where he could have gone if he had lived through the Sixties, doing Marvin Gaye kind of lyrics about the society we live in. It was a tremendous loss when he was killed. I remember thinking, "Oh, that can't be." He was such a rising star, a fabulous singer with intelligence. And that brilliant smile. I used to think he was just a great singer. Now I think he's better than that. Almost nobody since then can touch him. ILLUSTRATION BY STERLING HUNDLEY 15 Stevie Wonder By Elton John Let me put it this way: Wherever I go in the world, I always take a copy of Songs in the Key of Life. For me, it's the best album ever made, and I'm always left in awe after I listen to it. When people in decades and centuries to come talk about the history of music, they will talk about Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. Stevie came out of the golden age of Motown, when they were putting out the best R&B records in the world from Detroit, and he evolved into an amazing songwriter and a genuine musical force of nature. He's so multitalented that it's hard to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes him one of the greatest ever. But first, there's that voice. Along with Ray Charles, he's the greatest R&B singer who ever lived. Nobody can sing like he does. I know: I actually recorded a version of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" when I was young, and I really had to squeeze my balls to get those high notes. As a keyboard player, I've played with him over the years, and he never ceases to amaze me, the stuff he comes up with. He can play anything — check out his harmonica playing. I think I'm a pretty good musician, but he's in a whole other league. He could play with Charlie Parker or John Coltrane and hold his own. Stevie's Sixties hits are amazing — joyful music that still sounds great — but then, starting in the Seventies, he hit a run of albums that's unsurpassed in music history, from Talking Book to Songs in the Key of Life. I think the elite — the most major of major artists — often have a period when they can do no wrong. It happened to Prince, too, who is like Stevie in some ways. He has got an immeasurable amount of talent — so much talent that sometimes it can seem like he's kind of lost. Stevie is an amazingly positive, peaceful man. When you ask him to do something, he is generous. He loves music. He loves to play. When he comes into a room, people adore him. And there aren't many artists like that. People admire you and they like your records, but they don't want to stand up and hug you. But this man is a good man. He tries to use his music to do good. His message, I think, is about love, and in the world we live in today, that message does shine through. ILLUSTRATION BY MARK STUTZMAN 14 Led Zeppelin By Dave Grohl Heavy metal would not exist without Led Zeppelin, and if it did, it would suck. Led Zeppelin were more than just a band — they were the perfect combination of the most intense elements: passion and mystery and expertise. It always seemed like Led Zeppelin were searching for something. They weren't content being in one place, and they were always trying something new. They could do anything, and I believe they would have done everything if they hadn't been cut short by John Bonham's death. Zeppelin served as a great escape from a lot of things. There was a fantasy element to everything they did, and it was such a major part of what made them important. It's hard to imagine the audience for all those Lord of the Rings movies if it wasn't for Zeppelin. They were never critically acclaimed in their day, because they were too experimental and they were too fringe. In 1969 and '70, there was some freaky s*** going on, but Zeppelin were the freakiest. I consider Jimmy Page freakier than Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was a genius on fire, whereas Page was a genius possessed. Zeppelin concerts and albums were like exorcisms for them. People had their asses blown out by Hendrix and Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, but Page took it to a whole new level, and he did it in such a beautifully human and imperfect way. He plays the guitar like an old bluesman on acid. When I listen to Zeppelin bootlegs, his solos can make me laugh or they can make me tear up. Any live version of "Since I've Been Loving You" will bring you to tears and fill you with joy all at once. Page doesn't just use his guitar as an instrument — he uses it like it's some sort of emotional translator. John Bonham played the drums like someone who didn't know what was going to happen next — like he was teetering on the edge of a cliff. No one has come close to that since, and I don't think anybody ever will. I think he will forever be the greatest drummer of all time. You have no idea how much he influenced me. I spent years in my bedroom — literally f***ing years — listening to Bonham's drums and trying to emulate his swing or his behind-the-beat swagger or his speed or power. Not just memorizing what he did on those albums but getting myself into a place where I would have the same instinctual direction as he had. I have John Bonham tattoos all over my body — on my wrists, my arms, my shoulders. I gave myself one when I was 15. It's the three circles that were his insignia on Zeppelin IV and on the front of his kick drum. "Black Dog," from Zeppelin IV, is what Led Zeppelin were all about in their most rocking moments, a perfect example of their true might. It didn't have to be really distorted or really fast, it just had to be Zeppelin, and it was really heavy. Then there's Zeppelin's sensitive side — something people overlook, because we think of them as rock beasts, but Zeppelin III was full of gentle beauty. That was the soundtrack to me dropping out of high school. I listened to it every single day in my VW bug, while I contemplated my direction in life. That album, for whatever reason, saved some light in me that I still have. I heard them for the first time on AM radio in the Seventies, right around the time that "Stairway to Heaven" was so popular. I was six or seven years old, which is when I'd just started discovering music. But it wasn't until I was a teenager that I discovered the first two Zeppelin records, which were handed down to me from the real stoners. We had a lot of those in the suburbs of Virginia, and a lot of muscle cars and keggers and Zeppelin and acid and weed. Somehow they all went hand in hand. To me, Zeppelin were spiritually inspirational. I was going to Catholic school and questioning God, but I believed in Led Zeppelin. I wasn't really buying into this Christianity thing, but I had faith in Led Zeppelin as a spiritual entity. They showed me that human beings could channel this music somehow and that it was coming from somewhere. It wasn't coming from a songbook. It wasn't coming from a producer. It wasn't coming from an instructor. It was coming from four musicians taking music to places it hadn't been before — it's like it was coming from somewhere else. That's why they're the greatest rock & roll band of all time. It couldn't have happened any other way. ILLUSTRATION BY CHRISTIAN CLAYTON 13 Buddy Holly By John Mellencamp Buddy Holly was a complete and utter hillbilly. I'm very proud of that. So much of our musical heritage is from the country. People always ask me, "Why do you stay in Indiana?" Well, I have to. Just about every song, every sound that we emulate and listen to was created by a hillbilly, born out of the frustration of a small town where there ain't much to do in the evening. That's one thing that I loved about Buddy Holly. Buddy Holly was one of the first great singer-songwriters — he wrote his own material and in the end was producing it, too. He came from such a rural area and was able to speak to so many people in so many locations. He was one of the first to get away from the Tin Pan Alley songwriting factory and communicate directly, honestly with his audience. I was just a little kid when I first heard Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue." You may not understand what it was like being about nine years old in 1957 or '58, but it was quite a treat. All of this music was just coming out of nowhere — Memphis and Texas. I was in a band when I was in sixth grade, and we played "Not Fade Away." You shouldn't even be in a band if you haven't played that song. It's two chords, beautiful melody, with a nice message. Holly's songs never really left my consciousness. When I set up my iPod, there he was, those same songs that I've heard for all these years. They sound just as good as the first time I heard them. Holly's melodies and arrangements were a huge influence on the Beatles. With the whirlwind they were on in 1964, the first thing John Lennon asked when he got to The Ed Sullivan Show was, "Is this the stage that Buddy Holly played on?" That shows a lot of quiet admiration. Listen to the songs on the first three Beatles albums. Take their voices off, and it's Buddy Holly. Same with the Rolling Stones. Record companies encourage young artists to copy what's been there before. But nobody was pushing Holly in any direction. That was just all him and his instincts. Those songs are great, and some are only a minute and 25 seconds long. Think about delivering a song like that today. The magic that Buddy Holly created was nothing short of a miracle. The fact that he died at 22 is just ridiculous. That tells you all you need to know about just how focused and visionary he was. ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS KASCH 12 The Beach Boys By Lindsey Buckingham The Beach Boys showed the way, and not just to California. Sure, they may have sold the California Dream to a lot of people, but for me, it was Brian Wilson showing how far you might have to go in order to make your own musical dream come true. In the beginning, I was someone who grew up in California and loved the early music that he and the Beach Boys made. Later, I would relate to Brian's struggle as an artist against a machine that tended toward serving the bottom line — the industry attitude that if it works, run it into the ground. Music meant much more to him than that. He was trying to do something so much bigger than that with his teenage symphonies to God. In the process, he really rocked the boat and changed the world. When the Beach Boys started, Brian was taking European sensibilities and infusing them into a Chuck Berry format. Those harmonies were based on the Four Freshmen, with a little church element added to it. He put all that on top of Chuck Berry rock & roll, and the result sounded so fresh. I remember hearing "Surfin' Safari" first when I was in sixth grade. It had the beat, the sense of joy, that explosion rock & roll gave to a lot of us. But it also had this incredible lift, this amazing kind of chemical reaction that seemed to happen inside you when you heard it. Pet Sounds is the acknowledged masterpiece, and it's everything it's said to be, with Brian taking some of the influences he got from Phil Spector and making something all his own. But even before that there's Side Two of The Beach Boys Today!, which is really just one ballad after another and is for me one of the great sides on a rock album. Those are beautiful numbers — "Please Let Me Wonder," "Kiss Me Baby," "She Knows Me Too Well," "In the Back of My Mind" — that foreshadow Brian's angst and start exposing his vulnerability. A lot of what you find later on Pet Sounds or Smile, you could find in a different form early on. Today it's nice to see that Brian's in a place where he can do what he wants without the pressure of selling or of having to be the support system for so many others. Because he gave the rest of us more than his fair share of good vibrations. ILLUSTRATION BY MARK GAGNON 11 Bob Marley By Wyclef Jean What separates Bob Marley from so many other great songwriters? They don't know what it's like for rain to seep into their house. They wouldn't know what to do without their microwaves and stoves — to make a fire with wood and cook their fish next to the ocean. Marley came from the poverty and injustice in Jamaica, and that manifested itself in his rebel sound. The people were his inspiration. Straight up. Like John Lennon, he brought the idea that through music, empowerment and words, you can really come up with world peace. But it's hard to compare him to other musicians, because music was just one part of what he was. He was also a humanitarian and a revolutionary. His impact on Jamaican politics was so strong, there was an assassination attempt on his life. Marley was like Moses. When Moses spoke, people moved. When Marley spoke, they moved as well. Marley almost single-handedly brought reggae to the world. When I was growing up in Haiti — where my father was a missionary and a church minister — we could barely get away with listening to Christian rock and definitely couldn't get away with any rap. When I was 14, I slipped on "Exodus," and my dad, who didn't speak English very well, asked me, "What's this song about?" I told him it was biblical, and it was about movement. The minute it reached his ears — the minute Marley's music reaches anybody's ears — he was automatically grooving. The vibe goes straight to your brain. "Redemption Song" transcends time. "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery/ None but ourselves can free our minds/Have no fear for atomic energy/'Cause none of them can stop the time." It will mean the same thing in the year 3014. Today, people struggle to find what's real. Everything has become so synthetic that a lot of people, all they want is to grasp onto hope. The reason people still throw on Bob Marley T-shirts is because his music is one of the few real things left to grasp onto. ILLUSTRATION BY MARCO VENTURA 10 Ray Charles Ray Charles is proof that the best music crosses all boundaries, reaches all denominations. He could do any type of music, and he always stayed true to himself. It's all about his soul. His music first hit me when I heard a live version of "What'd I Say" on American Forces Network in Germany, which I used to listen to late at night. Then I started buying his singles. His sound was stunning — it was the blues, it was R&B, it was gospel, it was swing — it was all the stuff I was listening to before that but rolled into one amazing, soulful thing. As a singer, Ray Charles didn't phrase like anyone else. He didn't put the time where you thought it was gonna be, but it was always perfect, always right. He knew how to play with time, like any great jazzman. But there was more to him than that voice — he was also writing these incredible songs. He was a great musician, a great record maker, a great producer and a wonderful arranger. There's a reason they called Ray Charles "the Genius." Think of how he reinvented country music in a way that worked for him. He showed there are no limitations, not for someone as good as he is. Whatever Ray Charles did, whatever he touched, he made it his own. He's his own genre. It's all Ray Charles music now. I always learn something from him. It's music that set a tough standard. For me, two albums that stand out are Ray Charles at Newport and Ray Charles in Person. Then there's Genius + Soul = Jazz with the Basie orchestra and Quincy Jones. And of course Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. There's so much to live up to — these days, you almost have to go backward to go forward. In 2004, I did a duet with him on one of my songs, "Crazy Love." It felt fantastic. I always loved his singing, but I also connected with him on a soul level. I just felt his emotion. People like Ray Charles — and Sam Cooke, Bobby Bland and Solomon Burke — defined what soul was for me. It wasn't just the singing — it was what went into the singing. These were guys who put their souls on the line. This music is way beyond marketing. This music is global, and its appeal is universal. Ray Charles changed music just by being himself — by doing what he did and translating it to millions of people with the force of his soul. That's his legacy. I think that the music of Ray Charles will probably outlive us all — at least I hope that it will. ILLUSTRATION BY ANITA KUNZ 9 Aretha Franklin As a producer, I almost always addressed phrasing and enunciation with the singer, but in Aretha's case, there was nothing I could tell her. I would only be getting in her way. Nowadays, singers who want to be extra soulful overdo melisma. Aretha only used it a touch and used it gloriously because her taste was impeccable. She never went to the wrong place. It wasn't her gospel training. Most young African-American singers get their musical training in church. Training can give you form, can give you tradition, can give you the cadence. When genius gets good training, it can expedite the process, but training isn't genius. Genius is who she is. "Respect" had the biggest impact, with overtones for the civil rights movement and gender equality. It was an appeal for dignity combined with a blatant lubricity. There are songs that are a call to action. There are love songs. There are sex songs. But it's hard to think of another song where all those elements are combined. Aretha wrote most of her material or selected the songs herself, working out the arrangements at home and using her piano to provide the texture. In this case, she just had the idea that she wanted to embellish Otis Redding's song. When she walked into the studio, it was already worked out in her head. Otis came up to my office right before "Respect" was released, and I played him the tape. He said, "She done took my song." He said it benignly and ruefully. He knew the identity of the song was slipping away from him to her. Aretha had a minor career at Columbia before coming to Atlantic. I don't think Columbia let her play the piano much. It's always been my belief that when a singer plays an instrument, you should let them play it on the record, even if the singer is not a virtuoso, because they're bringing another element to the recording. In Aretha's case, there was no compromise in quality. She was a brilliant pianist. It is part of her genius. No one can copy her. She's all alone in her greatness. ILLUSTRATION BY TIM O'BRIEN 8 Little Richard A lot of people call me the architect of rock & roll. I don't call myself that, but I believe it's true. You've got to remember, I was already known back in 1951. I was recording for RCA-Victor — if you were black, it was called Camden Records — before Elvis. Then I recorded for Peaco*ck in Houston. Then Specialty Records bought me from Peaco*ck — I think they paid $500 for me — and my first Specialty record was a hit in 1956: "Tutti Frutti." It was a hit worldwide. I felt I had arrived, you know? We started touring everywhere immediately. We traveled in cars. Back in that time, the racism was so heavy, you couldn't go in the hotels, so most times you slept in your car. You ate in your car. You got to the date, and you dressed in your car. I had a Cadillac. That's what the star rode in. You remember the way that Liberace dressed onstage? I was dressing like that all the time, very flamboyantly, and I was wearing the pancake makeup. A lot of the other performers at that time — the Cadillacs, the Coasters, the Drifters — they were wearing makeup, too, but they didn't have any makeup kit. They had a sponge and a little compact in their pocket. I had a kit. Everybody started calling me gay. People called rock & roll "African music." They called it "voodoo music." They said that it would drive the kids insane. They said that it was just a flash in the pan — the same thing that they always used to say about hip-hop. Only it was worse back then, because, you have to remember, I was the first black artist whose records the white kids were starting to buy. And the parents were really bitter about me. We played places where they told us not to come back, because the kids got so wild. They were tearing up the streets and throwing bottles and jumping off the theater balconies at shows. At that time, the white kids had to be up in the balcony — they were "white spectators." But then they'd leap over the balcony to get downstairs where the black kids were. I didn't get paid — most dates I didn't get paid. And I've never gotten money from most of those records. And I made those records: In the studio, they'd just give me a bunch of words, I'd make up a song! The rhythm and everything. "Good Golly Miss Molly"! And I didn't get a dime for it. Michael Jackson owned the Specialty stuff. He offered me a job with his publishing company once, for the rest of my life, as a writer. At the time, I didn't take it. I wish I had now. I wish a lot of things had been different. I don't think I ever got what I really deserved. I appreciate being picked one of the top 100 performers, but who is number one and who is number two doesn't matter to me anymore. Because it won't be who I think it should be. The Rolling Stones started with me, but they're going to always be in front of me. The Beatles started with me — at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany, before they ever made an album — but they're going to always be in front of me. James Brown, Jimi Hendrix — these people started with me. I fed them, I talked to them, and they're going to always be in front of me. But it's a joy just to still be here. I think that when people want joy and fun and happiness, they want to hear the old-time rock & roll. And I'm just glad I was a part of that. ILLUSTRATION BY CHARLES MILLER 7 James Brown By Rick Rubin In one sense, James Brown is like Johnny Cash. Johnny is considered one of the kings of country music, but there are a lot of people who like Johnny but don't like country music. It's the same with James Brown and R&B. His music is singular — the feel and tone of it. James Brown is his own genre. He was a great editor — as a songwriter, producer and bandleader. He kept things sparse. He knew that was important. And he had the best players, the funkiest of all bands. If Clyde Stubblefield had been drumming on a Motown session, they would not have let him play what he did with James on "Funky Drummer." James' vision allowed that music to get out. And the music always came from the groove, whereas for so many R&B and Motown artists at the time it was more about conventional songs. James Brown's songs are not conventional. "I Got You," "Out of Sight" — they are ultimately vehicles for unique, even bizarre grooves. The first big record in hip-hop that used a Brown sample was Eric B. and Rakim's "Eric B. Is President." That opened the floodgates for people to sample Brown. I can't remember ever using a James Brown sample on my early records with LL Cool J or the Beastie Boys, but I wanted to make records that felt as good as Brown's, and I didn't want to do it by sampling or copying him. For me, it was about understanding the feeling you get when you listen to those grooves, figuring out how to achieve that with drum machines. That feeling was something that the Red Hot Chili Peppers and I worked on for BloodSugarSexMagik. We used Brown's idea that all the musicians didn't have to be playing at the same time. Let the bass have its moment; don't be afraid to start a song with just guitar or break it down to just drums and guitar. Those are the sort of dynamics you hear on Brown's records. I remember going to Minneapolis to visit Prince years ago, sitting in an office waiting for him — and there was an endless loop of James Brown's performance in the 1964 concert film The T.A.M.I. Show running. That may be the single greatest rock & roll performance ever captured on film. You have the Rolling Stones on the same stage, all of the important rock acts of the day — and James Brown comes out and destroys them. It's unbelievable how much he outclasses everyone else in the film. I first saw James Brown around 1980, between my junior and senior years in high school. It was in Boston. It was in a catering hall, with folding chairs. And it was one of the greatest musical experiences of my life. His dancing and singing were incredible, and he played a Hammond B3 organ tufted with red leather, with "Godfather" in studs written across the front. Regardless of what went on in his personal life, his legacy is secure. He certainly did things along the way where you can't help wondering, "What's going on?" But the good stuff comes from these one-of-a-kind people. These people are just touched by God. They are special. And James Brown is one of them. His legend will loom large, because the rhythm of life is in there. ILLUSTRATION BY CYNTHIA VON BUHLER 6 Jimi Hendrix By John Mayer Jimi Hendrix is one of those extraordinary hubs of music where everybody lands at some point. Every musician passes through Hendrix International Airport eventually. He is the common denominator of every style of popular music. Was he a bluesman? Listen to "Voodoo Chile" and you'll hear some of the eeriest blues you can find. Was he a rock musician? He used volume as a device. That's rock. Was he a sensitive singer-songwriter? In "Bold As Love," he sings, "My yellow in this case is not so mellow/In fact I'm trying to say it's frightened like me" — that is a man who knows the shape of his heart. So often, he's portrayed as a loud, psychedelic rock star lighting his guitar on fire. But when I think of Hendrix, I think of some of the most placid, lovely guitar sounds on songs like "One Rainy Wish," "Little Wing" and "Drifting." "Little Wing" is painfully short and painfully beautiful. It's like your grandfather coming back from the dead and hanging out with you for a couple of minutes and then going away. It's perfect, then it's gone. I think the reason musicians love Hendrix's playing so much is that the language of it was so native to his head and heart. He had a secret relationship with playing the guitar, and though it was incredibly technical and based in theory, it was his theory. All you heard was the color. The math is what's been applied ever since. I discovered Hendrix by way of Stevie Ray Vaughan. I heard Stevie Ray do "Little Wing," and I started working my way backward to Hendrix. The first Hendrix record I bought was Axis: Bold As Love, because it had "Little Wing" on it. I remember staring at the album cover for hours. Then I remember spending months listening to Electric Ladyland, which was very creepy. There's something dark about it in certain places that maybe Hendrix was too honest to hide. Hendrix invented a kind of cool. The cool of a big conch-shell belt. The cool of boots that your jeans are tucked into. If Jimi Hendrix is an influence on somebody, you can immediately tell. Give me a guy who's got some kind of weird-ass goatee and an applejack hat, and you just go, "He got to you, didn't he?" Hendrix has the allure of the tragic figure: We all wish we were genius enough to die before we're 28. People want to paint him as this lonely, shy figure who managed to let himself open up on the stage and play straight colors through the crowd. There's something heroic about it, but there's nothing human about it. Everybody is so caught up in his otherworldliness. I prefer to think about his human side. He was a man who had a Social Security number, not an alien. The merchandising companies put Jimi Hendrix's face on a tie-dyed T-shirt, and somehow that's what he became. But when I listen to Hendrix, I just hear a man, and that's when it's most beautiful — when you remember that another human being was capable of what he achieved. Who I am as a guitarist is defined by my failure to become Jimi Hendrix. However far you stop on your climb to be like him, that's who you are. ILLUSTRATION BY SKIP LIEPKE 5 Chuck Berry By Joe Perry Like a lot of guitarists of my generation, I first heard Chuck Berry because of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I was so blown away by the way those bands were playing these hardcore rock & roll songs like “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Around and Around.” I’d looked at the labels, under the song titles. I’d seen the name “Chuck Berry.” But I was fortunate enough, again like a lot of guys from my generation, to have a friend who had an older brother, who had the original records: “If you like the Stones, wait until you hear this!” I heard Chuck Berry Is On Top — and I really freaked out! That feeling of excitement in the pit of my stomach, in the hair on the back of my neck: I got more of it from Chuck Berry than from anybody else. It’s not so much what he played — it’s what he didn’t play. His music is very economical. His guitar leads drove the rhythm, as opposed to laying over the top. The economy of his licks and his leads — they pushed the song along. And he would build his solos so there was a nice little statement taking the song to a new place, so you’re ready for the next verse. As a songwriter, Chuck Berry is like the Ernest Hemingway of rock & roll. He gets right to the point. He tells a story in short sentences. You get a great picture in your mind of what’s going on, in a very short amount of space, in well-picked words. He was also very smart: He knew that if he was going to break into the mainstream, he had to appeal to white teenagers. Which he did. Everything in those songs is about teenagers. I think he knew he could have had his own success on the R&B charts, but he wanted to get out of there and go big time. He was also celebrating the music and lifestyle of rock & roll in songs like “Johnny B. Goode” and “School Days” — how anybody could make a guitar sound like the ring of a bell. Anytime you put the words “rock & roll” in a lyric, you have to be careful. But he did it perfectly. “Johnny B. Goode” is probably the most covered song ever. Bar bands, garage bands — everybody plays it. And so many bands play it badly. As much fun as it is to play, it’s also easy to destroy it. But it was probably the first Chuck Berry song I learned. It hits people on all levels: lyric, melody, tempo, riff. It’s funny — when my son, Roman, was 12, he came back from his guitar lesson one day and I said, “What song were you learning today?” He said, “We’re learning ‘Johnny B. Goode.'” That’s the essence of the appeal of Chuck Berry. When you’re a young guitar player now, you’re confronted by all these guys: Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page. But you can sit down and get your guitar to sound like Chuck Berry in a very short amount of time. The other thing is, Chuck Berry was a showman: playing the guitar behind his head and between his legs, doing the duckwalk. It’s not like you could close your eyes and hear his playing suffer because of it. He was able to do all that stuff and make it look like it was so easy and natural. I still listen to Chuck Berry Is On Top. The whole thing just rocks out. That’s why I love it — for the same reason I love AC/DC records. They just don’t stop. That was another thing he did: He stayed in that groove. He could have done one or two of those “Johnny B. Goode”-type songs, or a couple like “Maybellene,” then gone off and done whatever. But he stayed in that place, that groove, and made it his own. I also have a bunch of different compilations, and I hear the direct influence on me. The way he phrases things, that double-note stop, where you get the two notes bending against each other and they make that rock & roll sound — that’s what I hear when I listen back to a lot of my solos. It’s a little bit of technique, but it’s mostly phrasing. And kids today are playing the same three chords, trying to play in that same style. Turn the guitars up, and it’s punk rock. It’s the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. I hear it in the White Stripes, too. People will always cover Chuck Berry songs. When bands go do their homework, they will have to listen to Chuck Berry. If you want to learn about rock & roll, if you want to play rock & roll, you have to start there. I’ve had the fortune to shake his hand once or twice, but I’ve never really had a chance to tell him any of this. It was always in passing, at an airport or something. The last time was in the Seventies. I was walking through the airport, and someone said, “It’s Chuck Berry over there.” Well, I had to go over and shake his hand. But he was tongue-tied. Then he was gone. ILLUSTRATION BY ROB DAY 4 The Rolling Stones By Steven Van Zandt The Rolling Stones are my life. If it wasn't for them, I would have been a Soprano for real. I first saw the Stones on TV, on The Hollywood Palace in 1964. In '64, the Beatles were perfect: the hair, the harmonies, the suits. They bowed together. Their music was extraordinarily sophisticated. The whole thing was exciting and alien but very distant in its perfection. The Stones were alien and exciting, too. But with the Stones, the message was, "Maybe you can do this." The hair was sloppier. The harmonies were a bit off. And I don't remember them smiling at all. They had the R&B traditionalist's attitude: "We are not in show business. We are not pop music." And the sex in Mick Jagger's voice was adult. This wasn't pop sex — holding hands, playing spin the bottle. This was the real thing. Jagger had that conversational quality that came from R&B singers and bluesmen, that sort of half-singing, not quite holding notes. The acceptance of Jagger's voice on pop radio was a turning point in rock & roll. He broke open the door for everyone else. Suddenly, Eric Burdon and Van Morrison weren't so weird — even Bob Dylan. It was completely unique: a white performer doing it in a black way. Elvis Presley did it. But the next guy was Jagger. There were no other white boys doing this. White singers stood there and sang, like the Beatles. The thing we associate with black performers goes back to the church — letting the spirit physically move you, letting go of social restraints, any form of embarrassment or humiliation. Not being in control: That's what Mick Jagger was communicating. In the beginning, it was Brian Jones' band. He named them. He managed them — got the gigs and wrote to the paper when they got bad reviews. The attitude and aggressiveness — they first came from him. And the tradition came from him. He was using the blues pseudonym Elmo Lewis and playing bottleneck guitar. Then, on albums like Aftermath, he was playing all of these other instruments: dulcimer, harpsichord, sitar. He was so inventive and important. If anybody gets left out of the Stones' story, he's the one. But Keith Richards has been taken for granted too, relegated historically to permanent rhythm guitar. But his solos were great: "Sympathy for the Devil," "It's All Over Now." And there are the riffs: "Satisfaction," of course, and "The Last Time," which the Stones themselves considered the first serious song they wrote. "Honky Tonk Women" is just one chord. Then he started the tunings: the G tuning and the five-string version of the G tuning. There are chord patterns that relate to his tunings — the "Gimme Shelter" effect, let's call it — where you add a suspended note, and it becomes more melodic and rhythmic at the same time. I play rhythm guitar with the E Street Band in Keith's style all the time. Anybody who plays rock & roll guitar does. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, more than any other rock & roll rhythm section, to this day, knew how to swing. It's so much a thing of the past now, but in those days rock & roll was something you danced to. You can just picture how much fun it was to be at the Station Hotel in London in 1963: the crowd going crazy, the Stones going crazy, like they were in a South Side Chicago blues club. You can picture it in the music. There are generations of young people now who only know the Stones iconically. So I'd send them to the first four albums, the American versions: England's Newest Hitmakers, 12×5, Now! and Out of Our Heads. The next lesson is the second great era: Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street. They make up the greatest run of albums in history — and all done in three and a half years. In a lot of ways, the Stones are playing better now than they were in the Sixties. They were quite sloppy in the early days — which I enjoy. Technically, they're better than they've ever been. The trouble is, their power comes from their first 12 albums. There have been a few great songs since '72, but only a handful. If they were making great records and playing live the way they are now, my God, how amazing would that be? But live, they're still able to communicate that original power. You can learn a lot from the Stones still: Write good songs, stay in shape and dig deep down for that passion every night. You should live so long, a tenth as long, and be as good as Mick Jagger. It's amazing Keith is still alive. There are a few people who have this constitution of invulnerability, although you shouldn't learn that. Let's be honest: Excessive drug use hurts songwriting. The good side is, he's still on the road, rockin', almost 50 years later. You can't hold most bands together for four years, let alone 50. They show that if you stick to your guns, and don't compromise with what's trendy, you're gonna go a long f***ing way. elvis presley rolling stone ILLUSTRATION BY BRALDT BRALDS 3 Elvis Presley By Bono Out of Tupelo, Mississippi, out of Memphis, Tennessee, came this green, sharkskin-suited girl chaser, wearing eye shadow — a trucker-dandy white boy who must have risked his hide to act so black and dress so gay. This wasn’t New York or even New Orleans; this was Memphis in the Fifties. This was punk rock. This was revolt. Elvis changed everything — musically, sexually, politically. In Elvis, you had the whole lot; it’s all there in that elastic voice and body. As he changed shape, so did the world: He was a Fifties-style icon who was what the Sixties were capable of, and then suddenly not. In the Seventies, he turned celebrity into a blood sport, but interestingly, the more he fell to Earth, the more godlike he became to his fans. His last performances showcase a voice even bigger than his gut, where you cry real tears as the music messiah sings his tired heart out, turning casino into temple. In Elvis, you have the blueprint for rock & roll. The highness — the gospel highs. The mud — the Delta mud, the blues. Sexual liberation. Controversy. Changing the way people feel about the world. It’s all there with Elvis. I was eight years old when I saw the ’68 comeback special — which was probably an advantage. I hadn’t the critical faculties to divide the different Elvises into different categories or sort through the contradictions. Pretty much everything I want from guitar, bass and drums was present: a performer annoyed by the distance from his audience; a persona that made a prism of fame’s wide-angle lens; a sexuality matched only by a thirst for God’s instruction. But it’s that elastic spastic dance that is the most difficult to explain — hips that swivel from Europe to Africa, which is the whole point of America, I guess. For an Irish boy, the voice might have explained the sexiness of the U.S.A., but the dance explained the energy of this new world about to boil over and scald the rest of us with new ideas on race, religion, fashion, love and peace. I once met with Coretta Scott King, John Lewis and some of the other leaders of the American civil rights movement, and they reminded me of the cultural apartheid rock & roll was up against. I think the hill they climbed would have been much steeper were it not for the racial inroads black music was making on white pop culture. Elvis was already doing what the civil rights movement was demanding: breaking down barriers. You don’t think of Elvis as political, but that is politics: changing the way people see the world. In the Eighties, U2 went to Memphis, to Sun Studio — the scene of rock & roll’s big bang. Elvis’ music diviner Cowboy Jack Clement opened the studio so we could cut some tracks within the same four walls where Elvis recorded “Mystery Train.” He found the old valve microphone the King had howled through; the reverb was the same reverb: “Train I ride, 16 coaches long.” It was a small tunnel of a place, but there was a certain clarity to the sound. You can hear it in those Sun records, and they are the ones for me. The King didn’t know he was the King yet. Elvis doesn’t know where the train will take him, and that’s why we want to be passengers. Jerry Schilling, the only one of the Memphis Mafia not to sell him out, told me that when Elvis was upset and feeling out of kilter, he would leave the big house and go down to his little gym, where there was a piano. With no one else around, his choice would always be gospel. He was happiest when he was singing his way back to spiritual safety. But he didn’t stay long enough. Self-loathing was waiting back up at the house, where Elvis was seen shooting at his TV screens, the Bible open beside him at St. Paul’s great ode to love, Corinthians 13. Elvis clearly didn’t believe God’s grace was amazing enough. Some commentators say it was the Army, others say it was Hollywood or Las Vegas that broke his spirit. The rock & roll world certainly didn’t like to see their King doing what he was told. I think it was probably much more likely his marriage or his mother — or a finer fracture from earlier on, like losing his twin brother, Jesse, at birth. Maybe it was just the big arse of fame sitting on him. I think the Vegas period is underrated. I find it the most emotional. By that point Elvis was clearly not in control of his own life, and there is this incredible pathos. The big opera voice of the later years — that’s the one that really hurts me. Why is it that we want our idols to die on a cross of their own making, and if they don’t, we want our money back? But you know, Elvis ate America before America ate him. ILLUSTRATION BY DAN BROWN 2 Bob Dylan By Robbie Robertson Bob Dylan and I started out from different sides of the tracks. When I first heard him, I was already in a band, playing rock & roll. I didn't know a lot of folk music. I wasn't up to speed on the difference he was making as a songwriter. I remember somebody playing "Oxford Town," from The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, for me. I thought, "There's something going on here." His voice seemed interesting to me. But it wasn't until we started playing together that I really understood it. He is a powerful singer and a great musical actor, with many characters in his voice. I could hear the politics in the early songs. It's very exciting to hear somebody singing so powerfully, with something to say. But what struck me was how the street had had such a profound effect on him: coming from Minnesota, setting out on the road and coming into New York. There was a hardness, a toughness, in the way he approached his songs and the characters in them. That was a rebellion, in a certain way, against the purity of folk music. He wasn't puss*footing around on "Like a Rolling Stone" or "Ballad of a Thin Man." This was the rebel rebelling against the rebellion. I learned early on with Bob that the people he hung around with were not musicians. They were poets, like Allen Ginsberg. When we were in Europe, there'd be poets coming out of the woodwork. His writing came directly out of a tremendous poetic influence, a license to write in images that weren't in the Tin Pan Alley tradition or typically rock & roll, either. I watched him sing "Desolation Row" and "Mr. Tambourine Man" in those acoustic sets in 1965 and '66. I had never seen anything like it — how much he could deliver with a guitar and a harmonica, and how people would just take the ride, going through these stories and songs with him. When he and I went to Nashville in 1966, to work on Blonde on Blonde, it was the first time I'd ever seen a songwriter writing songs on a typewriter. We'd go to the studio, and he'd be finishing up the lyrics to some of the songs we were going to do. I could hear this typewriter — click, click, click, ring, really fast. He was typing these things out so fast; there was so much to be said. And he'd be changing things during a session. He'd have a new idea and try to incorporate that. That was something else he taught me early on. The Hawks were band musicians. We needed to know where the song was going to go, what the chord changes were, where the bridge was. Bob has never been big on rehearsing. He comes from a place where he just did the songs on acoustic guitar by himself. When we'd play the song with him, it would be, "How do we end it?" And he'd say, "Oh, when it's over, it's over. We'll just stop." We got so we were ready for anything — and that was a good feeling. We'd think, "OK, this can take a left turn at any minute — and I'm ready." More than anything, in my own songwriting, the thing I learned from Bob is that it's OK to break those traditional rules of what songs are supposed to be: the length of a song, how imaginative you could get telling the story. It was great that someone had broken down the gates, opened up the sky to all of the possibilities. I think Bob has a true passion for the challenge, for coming up with something in the music that makes him feel good, to keep on doing it and doing it, as he does now. The songs Bob is writing now are as good as any songs he's ever written. There's a wonderful honesty in them. He writes about what he sees and feels, about who he is. We spent a lot of time together in the 1970s. We were both living in Malibu and knew what was going on in our respective day-to-day lives. And I know Blood on the Tracks is a reflection of what was happening to him then. When he writes songs, he's holding up a mirror — and I'm seeing it all clearly, like I've never seen it before. I don't think Bob ever wanted to be more than a good songwriter. When people are like, "Oh, my God, you're having an effect on culture and society" — I doubt he thinks like that. I don't think Hank Williams understood why his songs were so much more moving than other people's songs. I think Bob is thinking, "I hope I can think of another really good song." He's putting one foot in front of the other and just following his bliss. But Bob is a great barometer for young singers and songwriters. As soon as they think they've written something good — "I'm pushing the envelope here, I've made a breakthrough" — they should listen to one of his songs. He will always stand as the one to measure good work by. That's one of the greatest accomplishments of all. ILLUSTRATION BY PAUL DAVIS 1 The Beatles By Elvis Costello I first heard of the Beatles when I was nine years old. I spent most of my holidays on Merseyside then, and a local girl gave me a bad publicity shot of them with their names scrawled on the back. This was 1962 or '63, before they came to America. The photo was badly lit, and they didn't quite have their look down; Ringo had his hair slightly swept back, as if he wasn't quite sold on the Beatles haircut yet. I didn't care; they were the band for me. The funny thing is that parents and all their friends from Liverpool were also curious and proud about this local group. Prior to that, the people in show business from the north of England had all been comedians. Come to think of it, the Beatles recorded for Parlophone, which was known as a comedy label. I was exactly the right age to be hit by them full on. My experience — seizing on every picture, saving money for singles and EPs, catching them on a local news show — was repeated over and over again around the world. It was the first time anything like this had happened on this scale. But it wasn't just about the numbers. Every record was a shock when it came out. Compared to rabid R&B evangelists like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles arrived sounding like nothing else. They had already absorbed Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry, but they were also writing their own songs. They made writing your own material expected, rather than exceptional. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were exceptional songwriters; McCartney was, and is, a truly virtuoso musician; George Harrison wasn't the kind of guitar player who tore off wild, unpredictable solos, but you can sing the melodies of nearly all of his breaks. Most important, they always fit right into the arrangement. Ringo Starr played the drums with an incredibly unique feel that nobody can really copy, although many fine drummers have tried and failed. Most of all, John and Paul were fantastic singers. Lennon, McCartney and Harrison had stunningly high standards as writers. Imagine releasing a song like "Ask Me Why" or "Things We Said Today" as a B side. These records were events, and not just advance notice of an album release. Then they started to really grow up. They went from simple love lyrics to adult stories like "Norwegian Wood," which spoke of the sour side of love, and on to bigger ideas than you would expect to find in catchy pop lyrics. They were pretty much the first group to mess with the aural perspective of their recordings and have it be more than just a gimmick. Before the Beatles, you had guys in lab coats doing recording experiments in the Fifties, but you didn't have rockers deliberately putting things out of balance, like a quiet vocal in front of a loud track on "Strawberry Fields Forever." You can't exaggerate the license that this gave to everyone from Motown to Jimi Hendrix. My absolute favorite albums are Rubber Soul and Revolver. When you picked up Revolver, you knew it was something different. Heck, they are wearing sunglasses indoors in the picture on the back of the cover and not even looking at the camera … and the music was so strange and yet so vivid. If I had to pick a favorite song from those albums, it would be "And Your Bird Can Sing" … no, "Girl" … no, "For No One" … and so on, and so on…. Their breakup album, Let It Be, contains songs both gorgeous and jagged. I remember going to Leicester Square and seeing the film of Let It Be in 1970. I left with a melancholy feeling. The word "Beatlesque" has been in the dictionary for a while now. I can hear them in the Prince album Around the World in a Day; in Ron Sexsmith's tunes; in Harry Nilsson's melodies. You can hear that Kurt Cobain listened to the Beatles and mixed them in with punk and metal. I've co-written some songs with Paul McCartney and performed with him in concert on a few occasions. During one rehearsal, I was singing harmony on a Ricky Nelson song, and Paul called out the next tune: "All My Loving." I said, "Do you want me to take the harmony line the second time round?" And he said, "Yeah, give it a try." I'd only had 35 years to learn the part. It was a very poignant performance, witnessed only by the crew and other artists on the bill. At the show, it was very different. The second he sang the opening lines — "Close your eyes, and I'll kiss you" — the crowd's reaction was so intense that it all but drowned the song out. It was very thrilling but also rather disconcerting. Perhaps I understood in that moment one of the reasons why the Beatles had to stop performing. The songs weren't theirs anymore. They were everybody's.

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