Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hound Dog

In honor of Elvis, here is the song that, quite literally, changed the destiny of the country.

June 5th, 1956. The Elvis phenomena had already been growing for some time; a performance a month earlier in LaCrosse, Wisconsin was described by a local newspaper editor as 'sexual gratification on stage' and had drawn the attention of none other than J. Edgar Hoover, but it was the Milton Berle Show performance of "Hound Dog" that brought Presley the notoriety that would catapult him into super-stardom.

The ultimate fallout over Elvis’s controversial performance of “Hound Dog” on the Milton Berle Show of June 5, 1956, is that all of the condemnation heaped on Presley immediately afterward backfired on the critics who did the heaping. By ratcheting up the controversy, the pundits made Elvis even more popular. The critics continued to denounce Presley, but his increasing number of young supporters dug in their heels in his defense.

During the first half of 1956, when Elvis Presley brought his show to town, local press coverage varied widely. After June 5, however, Elvis was front page news everywhere he went. No single event gave Elvis Presley’s career a greater boost than that provided by those two-and-a-half rock ’n’ rollin’ minutes on Uncle Miltie’s show on June 5, 1956.

You could also say that it was this moment that led to his ultimate demise on August 16th, 1977 - but if not here, it would have come somewhere else. He was already on the way up and was a force that could not be stopped, and he paved the way for rock-n-roll as we know it today.

Somewhere in this house I have the GR Press with the headline of his death. I wasn't a huge Elvis fan, pretty boy Paul McCartney held my 12 year-old heart and attention at that time, but I certainly enjoyed and respected his music, and especially loved his voice. Man, that cat could sing.

RIP Elvis. Your memory lives on.