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:
The Mad Lads
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.
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:
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?
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.
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.
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:
This biography goes on for another three long paragraphs.
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:
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:
“They say, The Blues had a child and they called it Rock n Roll.
Elvis Presley personifies this Rock n Roll child.”
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