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Profile Information

Name: Tom Conroy
Gender: Male
Hometown: CT
Home country: USA
Member since: Sat Mar 6, 2021, 08:56 PM
Number of posts: 6,515

Journal Archives

What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong

It is when Louis Armstrong sings!

That's Why God Made the Radio - The Beach Boys

Brian Wilson composes the music of summer!

I wouldn't normally post a story from fox news

But this is pretty big. Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga live in person in NYC this August!


Was Elvis Presley a racist?

I recently posted a couple of videos of Elvis from his 1968 tv comeback special and suddenly was reminded of a high school classmate describing Elvis as a terrible racist. I had no idea what the answer was so I decided to do some investigating on the internet. Here's what I found:
The rumor of Elvis being a racist goes back to the 50s. A magazine called Sepia ran a story that included what it acknowledged was a rumored racist quote. Chuck D of Public Enemy described Elvis as a racist in a song lyric. Mary J. Blige described Elvis as racist in describing her anguish over covering Blue Suede Shoes. And most recently Quincy Jones said Elvis refused to work with him on a tv show when he was a writer for Tommy Dorsey's band. Tommy Dorsey hosted the tv show. The interview was in a May edition of the Hollywood Reporter.
The Sepia story was actually investigated by Jet Magazine in 1957. The author could find no factual basis for the rumor. They interviewed Presley and he denied ever making the statement and said effectively he had too much respect for black musicians and black music to ever consider making the rumored statement. In the 1960s he complained to his housekeeper he was still troubled by the rumor, saying he had practically been raised by the black next door neighbors and often attended black Churches when young to hear gospel music.
I don't take the statements of Chuck D or Mary J Blige too seriously since neither ever met Presley and have given no source for their views. I was troubled by Quincy Jones' statement since he knew Presley at least slightly. Then I checked Wikipedia. There it stated that Jones played second trumpet in the Dorsey band that backed Elvis. So according to that Elvis did play with Jones. More tellingly I read a GQ interview that Jones gave in 2018 where he told a very different story. This time there was no mention of Elvis' racism. He said that Tommy Dorsey refused to play with Elvis and that Elvis couldn't sing. In fact Dorsey had Elvis on his show for six straight weeks. In the same interview he described the Beatles as lousy musicians. Shortly after the 2018 interview Jones put up a post on twitter saying his daughters had staged an intervention with him because of the odd things he was saying in interviews.
That is about the extent of what I could find of people actually saying Elvis was racist.
There is a lot of information to the contrary. Here is a long article on the subject:


It's from an obviously pro Elvis source but it contains a lot of information. In the mid 50s Elvis made a point of attending the Memphis Fairgrounds Amusement Park on a night reserved for black people in the segregated south. He twice attended a fundraiser sponsored by the Memphis black radio station WDIA for the benefit of black charities in 1956 and 1957. He may have been the only white person present (I'm not certain). There are a number of musicians who are on the record as speaking highly of Elvis and their friendship including James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Fats Domino. When Elvis was once asked in the 1970s if he was the king of rock and roll.he said: No. Fats Domino was the King.
Perhaps most telling was the statement of BB King. He knew Elvis from the early days of Sun Records. He said Elvis didn't have a racist bone in his body. The first time they met Elvis addressed him as 'Sir'. B.B. King liked that.
There is a lot more material out there. You can just Google: Elvis and racism and come up with a lot of stuff.
Apparently Elvis was an admirer of Martin Luther King. Some people said that he had memorized King's I have a dream speech. And indeed a record of King's speeches was among Elvis' record collection.
I recently posted a video from his 1969 tv special of the song If I Can Dream. It was written for Elvis in June 1968 shortly after MLKs death. Elvis insisted on it being the last song he sung on the program, over the objection of his manager. It does contain allusions to some of the phrases of MLKs 1963 speech. Many people think it is Elvis' single greatest performance.
When I started researching the issue I had no idea if Elvis was a racist. I think I now know the answer.

Welcome Back - John Sebastian

Why did you leave, John Travolta?

If I Can Dream - Elvis Presley

The last song from Elvis' 1968 comeback special. During breaks in filming he would sit with his backup singers and sing old gospel songs.
Sung live to a pre-recorded sound track, many regard this as his single greatest performance.

Lawdy Miss Clawdy - Elvis Presley

His 1968 comeback.

Save Your Heart For Me - Gary Lewis and the Playboys

Part of America's answer to the British Invasion!

My Back Pages - Bob Dylan and Friends

A Little More Country Than That - Easton Corbin

A sweet song.
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