Elvis in the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame

Graceland Announcement

This is the total content of a recent Graceland.com news item. There is no Read More link to click on. The print may be too small for you to read, but the last paragraph says, “The hall of fame was established in 2010 and is based in Clarksdale, Mississippi.”

The third paragraph lists the 2015 induction class:

Elvis
The Bar-Kays
Al Bell
Willie Clayton
Millie Jackson
Dorothy Moore
Sam Moore
Little Richard
Bobby Rush
Stax Records
The Mad Lads
Ike Turner
Muddy Waters
Radio station WDIA

There are some folks on here whom I don’t know. In addition to Elvis, I’m glad to see Sam Moore (Sam and Dave), Little Richard, Ike Turner, and Muddy Waters on the list. I wondered why Little Richard was not already in, not a charter member like he is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Who had they already inducted prior to Little Richard and Elvis being recognized? So, I clicked on the only link in the news release and went here.

 

R&B Hall of Fame Website Homepage.

This is where I started to get confused. Why would a Hall of Fame based in Clarksdale, MS have museums in two other cities? So, I clicked on the Museum tab and here’s what they are calling museums:

The 20 Grand in Detroit

This is a juke joint and restaurant in Detroit. The website states, “The 20 Grand Juke Joint Rhythm & Blues Restaurant will give you that old historic feeling of the juke joints of yesterday with pool tables, juke boxes and rhythm & blues memberilia from posters and showcases with outfits from The O’Jays, The Temptations, The Whispers, Gene Chandler, Chubby Checker, James Brown etc.”

That sounds like a long way from a museum to me. Also, how unimpressive is anyone who spells memorabilia wrong? Memberilia?

 

National Blues Music Experience Center - Memphis

Well, at least the logo for their Memphis museum is pretty cool. The National Blues Music Experience Center website says it “will tell the history of blues music from the beginning of its unsung heroes to its legends. The story will be told thought a timeline of photos, music, virtual reality and hologram exhibits.”

Note the wiggle words will tell and the story will be told. Apparently, this center does not yet exist. There is no address, hours of operation, or ticket prices listed.

 

So, I started to have some doubts about the R&B Hall of Fame and did some more looking around on the site’s links. This came up.

R&B Hall of Fame 2015 Induction - Clarksdale

Okay, a poster for the 2015 induction ceremony. There’s Elvis at the top on one side of the Highway 61 sign, Muddy Waters on the other. You can see little Richard there, too.

A couple of things on the poster are interesting. It looks like the only place in Clarksdale to buy tickets was at Delta Keepsakes down on Yazoo Ave. The other point is that the date of the ceremony was this past June 6. So Graceland waited until eleven days later to mention the ceremony in their news feed. A strangely late and surprisingly brief announcement.

Anyway, I clicked around on the site some more and found the lists of the first two classes of inductees. Here are the highlights – from my perspective, anyway.

2013: James Brown, Sam Cooke, Four Tops, Otis Redding, Supremes, Temptations, and Jackie Wilson.

2014: Michael Jackson, B.B. King, Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye, and Chubby Checker.

All worthy folks, but after three years of inductions, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and Chuck Berry are still not in. I don’t get it. Maybe they are trying to save some big names to hype with future induction ceremonies.

I continued to click on things on the R&B Hall of Fame website. What I found next totally blew my mind.

R&B Hall of Fame 2015 Induction - Detroit

Wow, here’s a poster for a second 2015 induction ceremony – next October in Detroit. I guess it’s an effort to generate more money for the Hall. But strangely, Elvis, Muddy Watters, and Little Richard aren’t featured on the poster. Instead we see Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Chuck Jackson, and Jerry Butler. Not one of these singers were on the list of those chosen in 2015, nor any year for that matter.

So, I’m starting to guess why Graceland gave such belated and minimal press to Elvis going into the R&B Hall of Fame. The website does not even list biographical material on the inductees. The other music halls of fame Elvis is in do it very nicely. Here is a taste of what they’ve got to say.

 

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:

Elvis Bio - Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

This biography goes on for another three long paragraphs.

.

Country Music Hall of Fame:

Elvis Bio - Country Music Hall of Fame

This is less than 1/3 of Elvis’ bio on the Country Music Hall of Fame website.

.

Rockabilly Hall of Fame:

Rockabilly Hall of Fame Elvis Picture

Before he was the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley was a country musician known as “The Hillbilly Cat from Memphis.” But the transition wasn’t easy. In his first appearance at Nashville’s famed Grand Ole Opry, the producer told him, “If I were you, I’d just go back to driving a truck and forget about being a singer.” Crushed, Presley might have quit if he hadn’t been given a second chance at a slightly less prestigious country radio show called the Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana. Presley tweaked his country and gospel roots with rhythm and blues, even adopting a rhythmic swagger in his hips. Growing up in the Memphis region of the Mississippi Delta, he played and recorded with many black musicians. In general, country music from that region had more influence from jazz and blues than from other parts of the South. When the producer of the Louisiana Hayride first heard Presley’s tape, he pointedly asked the talent manager who’d brought it if the singer was black or white. “Oh, he’s white all right,” the manager replied. “He’s just got a different sound, that’s all.” That different sound came to be called “ROCKABILLY,” a true mutt of music–a blend of everything from bluegrass to western swing to pop crooning. Rockabilly meant working-class boys ready to rock, decked out in checkered suits and bow ties, juiced on rhythm and blues. Rockabilly and “the Hillbilly Cat” were among the central influences of early rock ‘n’ roll, and both came directly from country music.

.

Blues Hall of Fame:

The Blues hall of Fame did not have a bio, but the Elvis link included this Certificate and a wonderful quote:

Elvis Certificate - Blues Hall of Fame

“They say, The Blues had a child and they called it Rock n Roll.
Elvis Presley personifies this Rock n Roll child.”

.

© 2015 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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3 responses to “Elvis in the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame

  1. I understand. The circumstances because of the future Hall of Fame made it hard to track exactly what was going on and where. I had the same questions leading up to week of event. Only thing that made me feel safe buying a ticket ahead of time was I got someone one the phone with Clarksdale Newspaper and he was kind enough to fill me in. I do wish someone representing Graceland or EPE would have cared just enough to put more info out earlier and give this its proper attention.

    But, good thing is, EL is in another Hall!! 🙂

  2. Hi Mr. Arnold

    I was at the ceremony. Met many people involved with the city of Clarksdale and got some questions answered about the future Museum … which is currently being built. It will be in close proximity to Morgan Freemans blues club ‘Ground Zero’… there in Clarksdale. I also got some nice photos from that night. Incidentally I got to meet and talk with Mr. Freeman that night. He was also there and received a Lifetime Achievement Award about 30 minutes before Elvis’ induction. And yes, Morgan Freeman really does talk like he does in the movies, lol. Everybody has asked me about his speaking voice. Was very friendly and even spent time talking with my children.

    Anyway, there is a wonderful bio on Elvis contribution to music and R&B in the evenings program, which I did save, of course.

    Some of your questions were same as mine were in the last week of May…leading up to the date of Ceremony. Reason for so many different adverts in different cities is because there was literally a business battle for the future home of the yet to built R&B Hall of Fame. The “battle for R&B Hall home” was between Detroit, Memphis and Clarksdale right down to the wire…. ending and finalized with Clarksdale getting the final nod… I think the word came sometime in late April or early May. So may help explain confusion there. The powers that be felt was proper that Clarksdale had a Hall considering the ridiculously large legacy of Delta artists from that region. The Blues Hall was supposed to go to Clarksdale but Memphis won that fight. And Detroit already has it’s own rich history and Motown. So it was proper that Clarksdale got it. But it was almost a last minute thing. The Mayor told me that in late April they weren’t even sure they would be hosting ceremony there… Memphis and Detroit were also waiting to get the nod. All 3 were in the mix until 2 months before event.

    Anyway, the event was great and Jack Soden sent a statement of appreciation from Elvis’ family and Graceland which was read to the audience by a spokeswoman that worked for WDIA Radio in Memphis.

    Take Care
    J V

    • Hi Jay: Thanks for all this information to answer the questions about the Rhythm and Blues Museum. I wish I would have known all this before writing the article.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

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