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Re: "Other" Interviews ............

Sun Feb 05, 2006 2:17 am

Gillybee wrote:The following is an excerpt from an interview by Jeff Levenson and Ray Charles featured in the January 1989 edition of Downbeat magazine. Somehow, I don't think Ray was the type of guy to let the truth get in the way of a good story....

JL: Ray, let's talk about singers. Aside from Nat [King] Cole, have other classic jazz singers influenced you?

RC: I remember Big Boy Crudup. I don't know if you are familiar with him, but I bet you Elvis Presley knew about him. You better believe he knew about him, because Elvis did some of his stuff-- [sings "That's Alright, Mama."] That's where he got that from. Elvis got a lot of stuff, my friend, from the old blues singers. People may not realize it because he never stopped to credit them. I'm not knocking the man and I'm not starting no racial sh*t or nothing like that. I'm just telling you where the stuff came from.

Elvis did "Hound Dog"--that was Big Mama's Thornton's. Elvis did "Jailhouse Rock"--that belonged to a friend of mine, Shifty Henry; he wrote that song. As a matter of fact, if you listen closely you'll hear [Elvis] sing about Shifty--there's a verse in there about him. Shifty Henry was a real person. He got 20 bucks for that song. Twenty friendly dollars. The reason I know this is that Shifty Henry was a very, very good friend of mine. When I first came to L.A. he was one of the few people who took me by the hand and tried to take care of me. The only problem was he was fooling around with drugs and he ended up selling his soul to the devil. You know what I mean?

Be that as it may, when I was young coming up the people I listened to were a lot of the people that I later discovered Elvis was listening to. I don't mean no harm, but I'm telling you the truth. On the other hand, these people were my inspiration too.

and.... ... 1217.shtml

Feelings about Elvis Presley among black audiences were perfectly captured a few years ago when Ray Charles responded to a Bob Costas query about Elvis with the quip, "What the hell was so special about Elvis . . . all Elvis did was shake his ass and black folks been shaking their ass for hundreds of years."

My thanks to "gb" for adding (finally) some substance to this thread.

IMO, Ray's remarks can be chalked up to bitterness & a bit of jealousy towards Elvis (for a myriad of reasons). He is also correct on some counts, & incorrect on others.

"Celebrities" are people, too ................ and they are susceptible to emotion clouding judgement, mistaken notions, urban-myth, etc..

(EP made similar mistaken remarks about "The Beatles" (to The President), had emotional outbursts (even on-stage, eg: "Desert Storm", and also had a predilection to believe in New Age Esoterica, etc..).

"Celebrities" are as equally flawed as you & I all are.

Not really surprising to find that "Official" statements are @ odds with TRUE feelings (such as Ray's remarks to largely black audiences).

It still doesn't take away from the "Genius" of either artist, though.


likethebike wrote: This is a problem with an artist as a big as Elvis, there's so many rumors going around and the bare outlines of his story are so well known that people often just believe what they hear and state it as fact without learning whether or not what they are stating has a basis in reality. Even worse because Elvis' reputation for some reason is always embattled there are those (not Charles) who would purposefully make false statements and because so many are inclined to believe those false (Charles fits in here) they become fact.


Once a person's life transforms into "legend", .......... the line demarcating FACT from FICTION is eventually erased with MYTH replacing REALITY.

However, keep in mind that there are often kernels of TRUTH to be found in much of the MYTH.


Thanks again, "gb". I enjoyed learning about another facet to Ray Charles & your link.

... just a fan ....

Sun Feb 05, 2006 2:36 am

Colin, Oh THAT Berstein :)

"Mr. Bernstein considers music ranging from Hindu ragas through Mozart and Ravel, to Copland, suggesting a worldwide, innate musical grammar. Folk music, pop songs, symphonies, modal, tonal, atonal, well-tempered and ill-tempered works all find a place in these discussions. Each, Mr. Bernstein suggests, has roots in a universal language central to all artistic creation."

Just an extract about some Bernstein Harvard lectures.

I vaguely remember a lecture Leonard Betrtstein did on TV back in the 70s on Stravinsky's "Rites of Spring" which Maureen said sounded like a traffic jam in New York when she first listened to the assault on her ears :) (Later she learnt to appreciate that kind of takes time for the uninitiated)

If memory serves me Bernstein was accusing Stravinsky of plagiarism.............and pointing out the original sources........what's new :lol:

Sun Feb 05, 2006 3:00 am

ColinB wrote:
Pete Dube wrote:
ColinB wrote:Maurice -

I knew it !

You haven't a clue who wrote West Side Story !

Colin -
Was it Jerome Kern?

Nope !

Music by Leonard Bernstein

Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Maria, I just ******* a girl called Maria................

More information than I need to know Colin.
But you be careful, those latino gals are spitfires!

Sun Feb 05, 2006 3:09 am

Many thanks, Gillybee, for adding that to the discussion.

Considering Ray Charles' obvious affinity for music, I'm surprised he didn't trust his ears and at least give some credit where it was due. It seems his thoughts/feelings on Elvis were clouded by a mixture of resentment and ignorance. So be it. Like my good friend N880EP said, celebrities are people, too.

Sun Feb 05, 2006 3:16 am

Cryogenic wrote: Like my good friend N880EP said, celebrities are people, too.

Except for Paris Hilton.

Sun Feb 05, 2006 3:42 am


I'm glad someone finally mentioned the Bob Costas interview on this thread. I think this is where alot of Elvis fans have a problem with Ray Charles. It is interesting to note that author David Ritz, who helped write Ray Charles biography also put together the Elvis By The Presleys book. It would be interesting to ask him why Ray felt so strongly towards Elvis the way he did. It's kind of two-faced to have Ray Charles accusing Elvis Presley of stealing black music from blacks when he in fact did the same thing towards country music. I don't ever recall hearing that Don Gibson, Cindy Walker, Eddy Arnold or other country artists and songwriters ever accusing Ray of stealing country music from white people. In fact I believe it is just the opposite when the likes of Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash had admiration for him.

I think all of this boils down to is the simple fact that Ray Charles never had the opportunity to meet and talk with Elvis on any extensive level. I've found this to be true also with Little Richard, who over the years has echoed the same sentiments that Ray has and on other occasions has said positive things about him. However I can't recall ever hearing of a black artist who actually met Elvis saying disparaging remarks about him stealing black music.


Sun Feb 05, 2006 4:51 am

I agree 100 percent Darryl. I think if Charles had met Elvis he would have sung another tune.

I wouldn't put Little Richard in the same category because he has always given Elvis credit for his talent and for opening doors to black performers. His beef is that he believes HE deserves more credit than Elvis. That's a little bit different. The race issue only fits into his argument on that level. He's not necessarily making a sweeping statement about all black musicians and Elvis.

Charles' attitude may also be shaded by the fact that he was no great fan of rock and roll music which he considered teenaged music. He often spoke in interviews about how he did not consider himself a rocker and I have read interviews where he only gave grudging respect to early rockers like Little Richard.

Sun Feb 05, 2006 5:16 am

wait a minute...jailhouse rock and hound dog were written by lieber and stoller...two white jewish guys from new york, correct?

you don't see people getting on big mama thornton for stealing white music, do you?

and why is it so popular for blacks to always credit thornton as the writer of the song, when it was lieber and stoller. talk about reverse racism.

yeah, ray charles sounds like he doesn't know music too well in that article. his buddy wrote jailhouse rock? did ray know that lieber and stoller weren't black guys?

ray used elvis as a reverse racism talking point, rather than an actual discussion of the merits of his singing and entertainment talent.

elvis stole from country singers, big band pop singers, blues singers, gospel quartets, etc...

perhaps if elvis had sung a country song into rock 'n roll beat, there would be less of the unsung blues hero cruddup whining. cruddup wouldn't have blipped the radar without elvis popularizing that song. and certainly, people wouldn't be referring to him quite as much today. he'd have been one of many lost to time.

elvis recording a song was just like some other blues black guy recording somebody else's song. he did it from the heart and stayed true to the music, and often making the song entirely his own.

the reason elvis gets so much credit (though i'd argue more time and emphasis is put on taking it away from him), is because people liked elvis on a level that the others couldn't compete, no matter how good they were. elvis had something different and special that made him stand out in a crowd. his voice was unique, his look was unique, the variety in his material in the beginning was also unique.

ray charles probably followed elvis more than inspired him. elvis blended song styles, then ray did. i sorta doubt ray charles was singing country before elvis was singing blues. though you can correct me on that if he was.
Last edited by Elvis' Babe on Sun Feb 05, 2006 7:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

Sun Feb 05, 2006 6:51 am

Daryl wrote:I think all of this boils down to is the simple fact that Ray Charles never had the opportunity to meet and talk with Elvis on any extensive level. I've found this to be true also with Little Richard, who over the years has echoed the same sentiments that Ray has and on other occasions has said positive things about him. However I can't recall ever hearing of a black artist who actually met Elvis saying disparaging remarks about him stealing black music.


I think you have hit the nail squarely on the head.

EP would have easily won Ray over & charmed him once they got to know each other.


This turned out to be a great thread.

... just a fan ....

Re: Elvis and Ray Charles

Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:32 pm

UPDATE: 10th June, 2009:

Ray Charles died 5 years ago today from liver failure when aged 73.

Ray Charles.jpg
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