I’ve always thought that people make too much of a big deal about Elvis Presley, but the fact of the matter is, he had a hand in changing music as we know it as much as any of the music icons. Today marks the 28th anniversary of his death. I can remember how much everyone around me was affected by this event, even though by the time it happened, even as a nine year old I could see it coming — it was just a matter of when.
Anyway, while the idea and idol worship around Elvis has always annoyed me, there aren’t many non-gospel Elvis songs that I would actually turn off if they were on the radio. The music was cool for its time and is, in a sense, timeless.
As I sat thinking about how revered he has always been and how much it has always bothered me how much of a big deal people have made of his death, I realized that when you really think about it he was the Kurt Cobain of his time — which when put in that perspective you can kind of understand all of the hype. Every generation has one of these musical heroes that brought them together, and then died due to some sort of act that — ultimately — they did to themselves.
When it comes right down to it, Elvis has and always will be the universal music icon and hero. I guess I’ll just have to accept that.
Wikipedia has a full history of Elvis, his career, and his demise.
- The Official Elvis Web Site
- A medical examiners report from The Smoking Gun
- ‘Weeping’ Elvis Statue Rocks Small Dutch Town – circa 1997
- Answer.com’s section on Elvis Sightings
- Elvis Killed Kennedy
Kurt Cobain? Please! It’s comments like “he was the Kurt Cobain of his time” that really piss me off! Same with a recent scene in Six Feet Under where they flashback to one of the primary actors crying his eyes out when he found out Cobain offed himself. People make it sound like Kurt Cobain was some sort of musical genius or muse or something like that, he wasn’t! He was just another decent musician that turned out to be a junky with mental problems. It just happened that people of the early 90’s latched onto him, just like people latched onto Elvis in the 60’s. Hey, I guess that does mean he’s like the Kurt Cobain of his age!
I see you get my point … 😉
Elvis Presley fondly known as simply ELVIS, was/is the greatest and most versatile popular singer of this, and any other era.We are still waiting for another singer of such calibre to emerge from the dross and mediocrity paraded as singers these days. Oh dear me:-)
I think what I was referring to was more of the social phenomenon around both singers, not their talent.
Whether Elvis and Kurt were talented or not, is beside the point. Each of them had the same effect socially. For some reason whole generations identified with them and their deaths effected everyone deeply. Their deaths just also happened to be self-inflicted – both by drugs.
That is, in a nutshell, what I was saying. Whose a better singer doesn’t concern me, because everyone has their own opinions. However, the “superstardom” factor did interest me, given the anniversary and all.
Elvis was the Kurt Cobain of his era? Say what? The comparison is so outrageous its….an outrage! I suppose that those that compare elvis music to other music under a sterile microscope can make anologies like this. But these people don’t “get” Elvis. Elvis was a giant. Cobain was a tiny bug. Sure, Cobain penned a few catchy tunes in between shots of herion. He wrote songs about blowing his head off and then he blew his head off. He had some serious mental issues and really didn’t contribute much to society overall.
Can you say that about Elvis? When he died, you would be hard pressed to find a soul on the planet who did not know his name. 28 years after his death, he remains nearly as popular(if not more) as he was in life. In many circles, he’s almost a religion.
Does anybody other than a few 90’s hangers on still revel in Cobain like that? Will they be flocking to his former home in droves 19 years from now?Will they still be buying his records by the fistful?
I’ve been a rock fan for 35 years and I like your articles, Ron. But I’ve got to call you out on this one. You’re comparing an atom bomb to a firecracker.
I understand your observation from a person who “doesn’t see the big deal” about Elvis. You don’t get Elvis. Thats OK. Some people don’t. Us Elvis people feel sorry for you.
The King stands above comparison to any artist. Comparing him to a bum like Cobain is not only ridiculous, its blasphemy.
I really enjoyed reading this comment and am still surprised at the emotion this one little comparison brings up. Out of all of the things I’ve written since I started this blog up last year, this one little musing has generated the most emotion.
If I would change anything about the article, I would reverse the comparison – Cobain was the Elvis of the 90’s.
I’m not referring to the music, but the social phenomenon around both artists.
The bottom line is, both were drug nuts, its just that Elvis’ drug use was a little more ‘hidden’ than Cobains. They both self-destructed. They were both very good musicians (and I’ll continue to stand by that – I rarely turn off a non-gospel Elvis song and the same can be said for Nirvana), and they both changed the music industry immensly when they showed up.
One thing you have to give me – music was not the same as it was before each of them came in as it was when they left. Thats a big deal and the crux of my comparison between the two.
Finally, you are correct. I don’t “get” the religion part of the Elvis thing. Never have, never will. Now, the Steve Vai religion, that’s a completely different story … 😉
Elvis’s Gospel music is absolutely Beautiful. Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis is too. I’m an atheist so why not listen to inspired music? It’s funny that you exclude Elvis’s Gospel music. Also quite revealing.
Yep, very revealing. I don’t like gospel music. Here’s another thing pretty revealing. I like Elvis music. Don’t tell anyone.
elvis is not dead