VH1 has filled hundreds of hours of viewing time with their various lists.  Many of the lists had Elvis in there somewhere, but he never got enough respect in my opinion.  In a 2003 Elvis International Magazine article, I slammed VH1 for the shabby treatment they gave Elvis in these lists:  100 Greatest Artists of Rock & Roll (#8), 100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll (only one, “The Sun Sessions – #21), and 100 Greatest Songs of Rock & Roll (only four, “Jailhouse Rock” – #18, “Hound Dog” – #31, “All Shook Up” – #68, and “Heartbreak Hotel” – #71).


Well, VH1 has done it again, but maybe we should be thankful that Elvis doesn’t rank too high in the most outrageous rock & roll moments.  Five of the top six on the list were violent deaths:  Marvin Gaye (1984), Curt Cobain (1994), John Lennon (1980), a fan at the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont, CA (1969), and eleven fans at a Who concert (1979).  Breaking up that string of deaths is Michael Jackson getting charged with child molesting (1993).  Who wants to be in a group like this?


Elvis is on the list three times.  #99 is “Elvis Presley meets President Richard Nixon (1970).”  I don’t think of that as very shocking.  However, not many people could show up at the White House unannounced and get in to see the President, so, in that respect, it is somewhat outrageous.  I’m glad it made the list and have no problem with it being #99.


#21 is “Elvis Presley Dies (1977).”  This was very big news when it happened, but fortunately it lacked the violence that propelled those other rock deaths into the Top 6.  However, it should have at least ranked ahead of at the three picks immediately in front of it on the list: Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s sex video (1996), Michael Jackson getting burned while filming a Pepsi commercial (1984), and Ozzie Osbourne biting the head off a dove (1981).


VH1 decided the14th most outrageous moment in rock & roll was “Elvis Presley shakes his hips on national TV (1956).”  When I saw the website promo, I thought, “Oh man, they’re going to get it wrong again and talk about the Ed Sullivan show.”  Well, I was very pleased when the narrator cited Elvis’ June 5 appearance on the Milton Berle Show.  They showed the whole clip of him singing “Hound Dog,” and it’s easy to see what set off the national outrage.  Near the end of the song, Elvis switched into a slow, bump-and-grind bluesy version.  It would be nothing today, but back then, Elvis scared the heck out of most parents.  They were sure he was leading the nation’s teenagers straight into juvenile delinquency.


VH1 did get one thing wrong.  They made reference to the three Ed Sullivan Shows that came later, but said Elvis was filmed from the waist up in all three.  Actually, it was only the last show in January 1957.


I’m OK with Elvis' appearance on thr Milton Berle Show not ranking up there with those violent deaths at the top of the list.  But, relative to the times when it occurred, the furor over Elvis shaking his hips on TV in 1956 should rank in front of these selections:  Madonna’s racy book “Sex” (1992), John Lennon saying, “We’re bigger than Jesus” (1966), Sinead O’Conner ripping the Pope (1991), Woodstock ’99 turning into a riotous mess (1999), and Milli Vanilli getting exposed for lip-synching (1990).


VH1 has been compiling these lists for almost a decade, and they are running out of good categories.  They have regressed to stupid subjects such as “The 40 Worst Celebrity Mug Shots.”  I have a suggestion for them: “The 40 Best Elvis Jumpsuits.”  Now that would be fun.


©  2006   Philip R Arnold


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