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Elvis Presley: Madison Square Garden, New York NY

Geoffrey Cannon, The Guardian, 17 June 1972

Author's note, 2018: Yes, it started for me with Elvis, when in 1956 I heard a demo of his first RCA record 'Don't be cruel'/ 'Hound dog'. Yes, it was confirmed two years later at Oxford, when a top scholar at my college settled an argument about the relative merits of classical and popular music by playing Elvis's Golden Records on my gramophone. Yes, Elvis's reputation is secure, as an astonishingly talented white performer and singer, who with his backing musicians melded Country & Western, Bluegrass, Gospel, and Rhythm'n'Blues into the driving, insistent, exciting creation that is rock'n'roll, and so shifted the culture of the USA. He was an interpreter, even a shaman. Yes, this was not all luck, for Elvis had absorbed maybe hundreds of songs since a child and in Memphis in the black clubs on Beale Street since before 1954 when he first signed with Sam Phillips of Sun.

Total word count of piece: 3168


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