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The British Invasion without Elvis' slump

Mon Jul 07, 2003 9:13 am

What would have been the effect on the British Invasion had Elvis not slumped during that time? Nash, in her new book, quotes a writer that believes it would not have made much of a difference because all performers of Elvis' generation suffered during this time. He claims their idea of music was too far away from what the kids of 1964 demanded, that these kids needed something different from the 50s.

There is something to be said for this argument. However, it also can't be denied that Elvis certainly made it easy for them. "Fun in Acapulco" and "Kissin Cousins" back to back must have really made the Beatles and other invasion acts look that much better in comparison.

Even before the Beatles hit, the audience was drifting away from Elvis. 1963 was the first year since his breakthrough that he wasn't in the Top Ten artists of the year. Sure, he still had hits but he wasn't THE man anymore.

What if RCA, though, had made "It Hurts Me" the A-side instead of "Kissin Cousins" and it had been a big success? What if it had followed a successful vocal version of "Memphis" instead of the lightweight "Bossa Nova Baby"? Their success would have stressed the need for quality singles. Or if Elvis had starred in "West Side Story" in 1961 instead of "Blue Hawaii" and his film career was also soaring? The void the Beatles stepped into might not have been there.

Do you think Elvis at the top of his game would have changed things?

Mon Jul 07, 2003 9:22 am

My opinion is that even if Elvis would have been a huge success during there was going to be anyway a new direction in music. Maybe Elvis presonally would have been more succesfull but I think it would have been something different - not part of contemporary music.

This unless Elvis would have try a very different type of music, to give the freshness the newe generations are looking for.

Mon Jul 07, 2003 9:34 am

Do you think Elvis would have been kind of like a Sinatra figure during this time basically playing to a different audience than the kids?

Do you think Elvis would have jumped into some of the music the kids liked?

There's some evidence to support that theory including Elvis' infatuation with folk acts like Odetta and Peter Paul and Mary and his taste for the Animals. It's debatable though whether he would have clicked commercially exploring the new styles. Dion and the Everly Brothers both tried their hands at then contemporary music and met with almost complete indifference. The performers who came to prominence right before the Beatles, like the Four Seasons or the Beach Boys, weren't really hurt that much by the Invasion. However, any performer associated with the 50s couldn't buy a hit. So, maybe Elvis would not have expanded on his army of loyalists that kept his singles in the Top 20 and his albums in the Top 10 through 1965.

Mon Jul 07, 2003 10:46 am

To use some powerterms: RCA sucked and destroyed Elvis' credibility as a grounbreaking artist! From 1962 to 1977...... (basicly to 1996)

Mon Jul 07, 2003 4:19 pm

With or without the Beatles, Elvis` time of chart domination had passed by 1963, and he was never going to have a run of hit singles like he had from 56 to 62 again. As has been mentioned, "It Hurts Me" is the direction that should have been followed, as opposed to soppy film songs like "All That I Am", "Do The Clam"etc

Elvis` chart fortunes were always going to take a dip sooner or later, but he sure did make it easier for everyone else.

Mon Jul 07, 2003 5:50 pm

All great careers have high and low points and Elvis’ was no different. Obviously, the declining quality of the soundtrack material did Elvis no favours, and he would certainly have stood a better chance of competing with the new groups had the standard of his material been consistently higher.

The disappointing aspect of this era is that the home recordings have shown that Elvis was very keen on the emerging folk scene, and could easily have cut an album of contemporary folk covers as early as 1966. This would not only have re-established Elvis as a valid serious artist, but sent out the message that he understood the changes that were happening musically during the mid sixties, and was able to both embrace them, and give his own interpretation of them. A real missed opportunity in my opinion.

Tue Jul 08, 2003 8:53 am

what a great topic! I always wondered what if RCA had released "Down in the Alley" as an A-side during '66? would it had made any difference? geez, what about an edited version of "Tommorrow is a Long Time"? If they, (RCA) had released these great tunes preceding the great "Guitar Man" single, I think it would have made a GREAT difference in the way Elvis was percieved by that time with the younger generation and would have built his credibilty back up as "Rock/Blues" artist, as opposed to a washed up sappy ballad movie crooner, u know? what if RCA had followed "In the Ghetto" in '69 with "Power of my Love" as the follow up single?

I had a converstation with one of my best friends older brother, who absolutely LOVES Elvis and was a Major fan back in high school. well, he said this was back in the mid 70's and he told me he always got made fun of for liking Elvis so much and bla bla...he said that kids back then found it hard to believe that Elvis had been such an impact on rock n roll!? the kids back then were into Zep and Floyd, Sabbath etc etc. I guess i could understand that logic, but if Elvis had only taken some more chances and stood his ground on the issues HE FELT were right, i think he would have been WAYYYYY better off, artistically, musically and mentally and maybe still alive today!!! oh well, nuthin' much we can do now...

Tue Jul 08, 2003 9:20 am

I've always thought "Tomorrow is a Long Time" represented an example of RCA and Elvis' management being asleep at the wheel. There is no way an edited version of this song wouldn't have been a hit. The novelty of Elvis singing a Dylan song and a Dylan song that Dylan had not yet recorded would have guaranteed airplay. It may have also changed the opinion of all those baby boomer critics that wrote Elvis off after the service.

Tue Jul 08, 2003 10:46 am

Just compare the 90's compilation "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" (the album that needed-to-be), with a '66-'67 soundtrack..... Lots of great tracks were recorded, but weren't released or promoted properly. But Elvis credibilty was nothing during those days. How can you expect a DJ to plug "Big Boss Man", while Elvis was singing "Bearfood Ballad" in the cinema the same time?

Tue Jul 08, 2003 8:06 pm

exactly! I was listening to my "Close Up" Disc 3 and towards the end i was getting a lil bored and annoyed, even. I'm not trying to sound harsh, but I just don't like Elvis singing "Singing Tree"!!! LOL if he could have only WASTED more time on more "U.S. Male's" and "Hi-heel Sneakers"...etc etc.. it's totally true that dj's back then had lost total interest in Elvis and the sloppy soundtracks had made there impeccable mark forever. really, let's look at the "Clambake' Lp and then throw in "Guitar Man"?

Tue Jul 08, 2003 8:22 pm

Maybe this is just urban legend, but as I understand RCA was the only US record label that refused to sign a Beatle-ish brit act while evryone else jumped on the bandwagon

Capitol/EMI had Beatles (and Beach Boys)
Decca had Rolling Stones (simply to rectify their dimwitted mistake in refusing to sign The Beatles in 62)
Columbia gave in and finally signed a rock group in 1965: costumed American MopTops "Paul Revere & The Raiders"

Perhaps RCA had faith in Elvis and loyalty enough to not add foreign competition to their stable of signed artists. Maybe RCA's motto was: POMPADOURS - NOT MOPTOPS. :wink:

Tue Jul 08, 2003 8:37 pm

Graceland Gardener wrote:Maybe this is just urban legend, but as I understand RCA was the only US record label that refused to sign a Beatle-ish brit act while evryone else jumped on the bandwagon

Capitol/EMI had Beatles (and Beach Boys)
Decca had Rolling Stones (simply to rectify their dimwitted mistake in refusing to sign The Beatles in 62)
Columbia gave in and finally signed a rock group in 1965: costumed American MopTops "Paul Revere & The Raiders"

Perhaps RCA had faith in Elvis and loyalty enough to not add foreign competition to their stable of signed artists. Maybe RCA's motto was: POMPADOURS - NOT MOPTOPS. :wink:

Or maybe not as they did sign The Monkees. Not a British band I know, but a band that owed quite a lot in terms of both their appearance and their music to the British invasion.

Tue Jul 08, 2003 8:43 pm

Yep, you're right.

The Monkees were on Colgems. That was a merger subsidiary of Columbia Pictures (Screen Gems) and RCA.

But I don't think RCA execs thought of Monkees Colgems label singles being in any way shape or form a product equal to an RCA label Elvis release. Yet, 4 #1 singles in a row for the Monkees prbably had some RCA execs weighing which act was more valuable at the moment:
Presley or Jones/Dolenz/Nesmith/Tork

interesting circumstances

Tue Jul 08, 2003 8:59 pm

I used to have an old UK vinyl copy of the “Headquarters” album and it was on the RCA Victor label. I assumed that The Monkees albums were issued in this way worldwide, rather than on a subsidiary of the main RCA label in the U.S.

Tue Jul 08, 2003 9:21 pm

even if elvis never sang any bad movie soundtracks I doubt he was able
to stop the beatles "invasion"

nobody was in fact

because it was the birth of "pop music" and the birth of a new generation ( in the 50's elvis did the same and astonished the world with the birth of rock'n'roll music )

but if elvis wasn't the leader in the mid sixties he for shure was the more versatile artist ever along his incredible career

the impact of the 68 comeback was partly due to the fact that everybody though he was really "out" and only interested in singing gems like old macdonald !

Tue Jul 08, 2003 10:06 pm

Hawaii, August 18, 1965
DJ Tom Moffat arranges thru Col. Parker to introduce Peter Noone to Elvis Presley


Recorded Transcription Highlights

Peter Noone: When are you coming to England?

Elvis: I don't know. Maybe in a year or so. Well, Colonel Parker has a bad back so...

Parker: Yessir! Yessir!


Elvis: As soon as he starts feeling better we'll probably come over.


Peter Noone: How come you made it without long hair?


Elvis: It was the sideburns. The sideburns did it.

Peter Noone: The sideburns?

Elvis: You remember those don't ya?



Peter Noone: Who's your favorite group after The Beatles?

Elvis: Well, after the Beatles I'd have to say....Boston Pops.


Elvis: Then the Boston Symphony Orchestra.


Elvis: Nah. Your group, the Rolling Stones*

*(Peter Noone sang lead for Herman's Hermits)


Elvis: How did your show go over here?

Peter Noone: Pardon?

Elvis: How did your show go here?

Peter Noone: It went fabulous, the show here.
Last edited by Graceland Gardener on Tue Jul 08, 2003 11:09 pm, edited 5 times in total.

Tue Jul 08, 2003 10:27 pm

There's alot of clarity to be gleemed from the above conversation.

1) The bogus phony reasons for not touring England/Europe.

2) Peter Noone assumed - and probably wrongly assumed - that everyone including Elvis himself simply likes The Beatles first and foremost. As if.

3) Elvis thought this guy was with the Stones - apparently all pimpley moptoppers look alike which creates confusing identities.

4) The age gap: Noone was 17. Elvis was 30.
Noone apparently couldn't recall the old days when Elvis had sideburns.
Noone was only 9 when Elvis shaved them off way back in '58.

5) Elvis sincerely wanted to know about Pete's local concert.

Having abandoned the concert environment 4 years ago, Elvis is now missing it and maybe for a moment can live vicariously thru a touring artist like Noone. Consider that Elvis was originally the Cock of the Walk who revolutionized live performances but now he is no longer involved with it. By 1965, Elvis was a reclusive no-show unavailable beyond the silver screen. He was obviously beginning to miss the live crowds.

The fact that he asked Noone 3 times about "how did your show go" (the 1st two times Noone didn't hear him) is proof that concerts were a necessary aspect of show business that other acts - younger acts - were taking advantage of and enjoying while it was currently absent in Elvis' career.

Hearing Elvis' voice on this persistant question of his, he sounds like a kid who is grounded and forbidden to go outside and he gets to talk to a kid who just came from the playground. "How was it? Tell me."