Elvis Presley died today 40 years ago. He’s a cultural icon of the 20th century and often referred to as the King of Rock ‘n Roll. Elvis Presley LP’s are still today everywhere. Besides his singing career, he was also quite an actor.
Fighting-scene Elvis movie Loving You
I always enjoy the fighting scene in the 1957 movie Loving You. Elvis referred to as “Side Burns” is being challenged to sing one of his songs. After a while, they convince the King to sing one of his hits. As a fee, Elvis wants a new pair of seat covers in his car. Then the fights starts!
Arthur Gunter put the Excello label on the national map in the fifties with “Baby Let’s Play House”. Elvis Presley recorded the song a few years later and scored also a big hit with his version. Arthur Gunter a blues guitarist from Georgia eventually released one album called Blues after Hours in 1971.
Classic blues song “Crazy Me”
“Crazy Me” is my favorite song in his repertoire. It is a blues standard containing some groovy piano rhythm and excellent guitar work. The vocals in “Crazy Me” are catchy and straight forward. This song should be part of every blues set.
Around the internet, you’ll find some cool stories about this bluesman who was born in Gunterorn in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. Arthur Gunter did not have the career a musician with his talent should have had. But nevertheless, he was living comfortably in Michigan in the seventies because he had won $50,000 on the Michigan State Lottery in 1973.
Song Of The Day: Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup – My Baby Left Me
Delta and Rhythm and Blues singer Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crodup had a clear inluence on the development of Rock ‘n Roll. Three of his songs including “My Baby Left Me” were later covered by Elvis Presley, but not only Presley covered Crodup’s songs also Elton John and Rod Stewart knew how to re-record the work of this bluesman.
“My Bay Left Me” was originally recorded on November 8, 1950, with Ransom Knowling on bass and Judge Riley on drums. The rockin’ bassline and the swinging drum at the intro of this song really make this song kick off! I also like it that in the cover versions this part of the song hasn’t changed.
After visiting Chicago in 1939 he stayed there to live a hard life as a musician. After he met blues producer Lester Melrose and Tampa Red, his career went beter. Crodup got the change to record songs which he did throughout the forties and fifties.
Elvis Presley Version
Elvis Presley admired Arthur “Big Boy” crodup, that may be the reasion the King of Rock ‘n Roll recorded three of his songs. Elvis versions of “My Baby Left Me” Brings a lot more country and rock ‘n Roll to the song; absolutely worth listening.
Elvis Presley – My Baby Left Me
Arthur Crodup Interview
By Tom Hilton (originally posted to Flickr as img261) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson a career of Blues, Rock ‘n Roll and Rhythm ‘nd Blues
Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson has done it all. The piano player and singer recorded infectious music in a wide range from Rhythm and Blues to Rock ‘n Roll to Rockabilly, Blues and Gospel. You may know him for his 1955 hit record “Red Hot”, which was later covered by Elvis Presley and Billy Lee Riley. But Billy ‘The Kid’ has recorded way more songs in his long career, which led to collaborations with the greatest musicians in Blues and Rock ‘n Roll.
Born in Tarpon Springs, Florida Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson learned the piano at a young age. He joined several local bands before he entered the United States Navy. After World War II Billy Emerson continued performing in the Florida area, where he picked up his nickname “The Kid”. According to Sun Records “He picked up his nickname while playing a joint in St. Petersburg; the club owner dressed the band up in cowboy duds that begged comparison with a certain murderous outlaw.
Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson’ Sun records Days
After Billy Emerson met Ike Turner, while he was stationed in Memphis he became part of Turner’s Rhythm Kings. Turner introduced Emerson to the Sun Record label which led, in 1954 to ‘Billy the Kid’s first single called “No Teasing Around”. Billy Emerson became an important writer for Sun record. his repertoire consisted of a variety of Blues and Rhythm ‘n Blues songs like ‘When it Rains it Really Pours’. He became a popular musician in the Rock ‘n Roll and Rockabilly scene which inspired Elvis Presley, Billy Lee Riley for Sun and Bob Luma to re-record Emerson’s greatest hits.
Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson for Vee-jay Records
Billy Emerson’ last recording for Sun “Little Fine Healthy Thing” failed to sell, Emerson exited Sun to sign with Chicago’s Vee-Jay Records in late 1955. Sun Records recalls: “Despite first-rate offerings such as the jumping “Every Woman I Know (Crazy ‘Bout Automobiles)” and a sophisticated “Don’t Start Me to Lying,” national recognition eluded Emerson at Vee-Jay too”.
At Vee-Jay Record Billy Emerson’s style became more Blues, more Rhythm ‘n Blues, nevertheless his song would stay as catchy as in the Sun period. For example the hit ‘Crazy ‘Bout Automobiles’, consist steady drums a groovy horn ensemble and a twisting saxophone solo. Above all there is room for the swinging vocals of Billy ‘the Kid’ Emerson.
Chess Records period
After a few years at Vee-Jay the recordings continued at Chess Records in 1958. Along his first few singles was “Woodchuck”. Emerson recorded this song earlier at Sun Records. The Chicago version, is much bluesy more singing, less talking. Another song from the Chess period is ‘Holy Mackerel Baby’, in this song Emerson tried a style of singing I haven’t heard before. Clean, no shouting, no gritty of raw-edge.
Woodchuck at Chess Woodchuck at SunHoly Mackerel Baby’
Own Label Tarpon and collaborations with the biggest bluesman
After recording for some of the largest labels in Blues and Rock ‘n Roll around the USA, Emerson decided to start his own label called Tarpon in 1966. In addition to Emerson’s own stuff, Tarpon issued Denise LaSalle’s debut single. He continued performing with the Biggest Bluesman like Willie Dixon, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Earl Hooker and Sonny Boy Williamson II. Billy ‘The Kid’ had an impressive career which led him to musical styles in the broad land of Roots Music.
Photo Credit feature picture: By Lioneldecoster (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
The fight for freedom: “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho”
My old friend Eddy told me last Friday in the local bar how he won “the battle of Jericho” against the local water company in a lawsuit. The local water company had
threatened him for a few months with bills, but he fought back. They claimed they would close the water connection to his house down, again he fought back. He wrote the courthouse a few times and this last Friday he told me while drinking a couple of beers that he won the lawsuit in style.
His adventure at the courthouse reminded me of the gospelblues song “Jericho”. Although it is not to be compared with the struggle for freedom many of the “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho” singers had back in the day, for Eddy it felt just like that.
The traditional “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho” was recorded by the greatest in Rock ‘n Roll, Blues and Gospel. A favorite version of “Jericho” was difficult to find because the list of “Jericho” singers contains artist like Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Hugh Laurie and they all made a masterpiece of this classic blues song in a different era.
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
And the walls come tumblin’ down, that mornin’
Roots of The Battle of Jericho
The lyrics allude to the biblical story of the Battle of Jericho, in which Joshua led the Israelitesagainst Canaan (Joshua6:15-21). However, like those of many other spirituals, the words may also be alluding to eventual escape from slavery – in the case of this song, “And the walls came tumblin’ down.” The lively melody and rhythm also provided energy and inspiration. (Wikipedia Jericho)
In the Blues and Gospel tradition “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho is a well-known African-American spiritual and believed to have been composed by slaves in the first half of the 19th century. Even today this song is heard in churches around the world every sonday.
When I told my friend Eddy about Jericho, he remembered the version of Mahalia Jackson. She was a stateful woman and one of the best Gospel singer around. The most beautiful Mahalia version of this song, was her performance as she appeared in 1957 singing on the Nat King Cole show.
Fit The Battle Of Jericho-Mahalia Jackson
Elvis Presley Cover of Jericho
Elvis Presley recorded “Jericho ” on october 30, at the RCA studio in Memphis. It was first released on “His Hand In Mine” album later that year. Presley’s voice is great in this song while the backgound singers bring a great melancholy to the song.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe cover and Bluesy Remix
You should also listen tot Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing “Jericho”. I’ll bet she would still make a hit record out of “Jericho” today and that must have been the reason for French DJ duo C2C to cover and remix this blues song in 2013. C2C used a killerbeat to accentuate the hip hop groove in Sister Rosetta’ singing.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Jericho
Sister Rosetta Tharpe Jericho (C2C Remix)
The most bluesy version is made by British musician and actor Hugh Laurie who turned it into a slightly New Orleans blues song. Of all songs on this page Laurie turned it into the slowest version.
Credit feature picture:By Dave Brinkman (ANEFO) (GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL)) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Carl Van Vechten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Library congress LC-USZ62-91314
Delta Rhythm Boys – Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho