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Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler wants to smack Elvis Presley for not giving credit to black musicians


Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler was introduced to Elvis Presley’s songs at a young age. He thinks the “Heartbreak Hotel” singer is a “big man”. Still, Tyler wishes he could punch him in the face.

In his 2011 book Does the Noise in My Head bother you?: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memory, Tyler spoke about his introduction to the music of Elvis. “Two months before my eighth birthday – Elvis!” he recalled. “‘Heartbreak Hotel’, ‘Hound Dog’. It was like being bitten by a radioactive spider. Elvis… the extraterrestrial.”

Still, Tyler wasn’t a huge fan at the time. “But it wasn’t Elvis that got me into rock ‘n’ roll,” he said. “I was too young to really understand it. But four years later, Chubby Checker and Dimah the Incredible Diving Horse came roaring into my life.” Tyler revealed he’s a big fan of Checker’s hit The Twist.

TIED TOGETHER: A song with “offensive” lyrics written for an Elvis Presley film hasn’t been released for over 35 years

Tyler saw Elvis as an artist heavily influenced by his predecessors. “Elvis got his sound from Sister Rosetta Tharpe (I dare you to put her on YouTube now), Ernest Tubb, Bob Wills and Roy Orbison,” he said. “And they in turn fathered the Beatles, and they fathered the Stones, and they fathered Elton John, Marvin Gaye, Carole King and … Aerosmith.” For context, Tharpe is often credited as the architect of rock ‘n’ roll.

During an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune in 2017, Tyler was asked if Elvis was a musical thief. “If I could sit down with Elvis, I would smack him in the face for not giving credit to all these black musicians,” he revealed. “I’ve struggled with this for years. You know, he was a great man, but he maliciously — or maybe unknowingly — took all the credit.”

TIED TOGETHER: Elvis Presley: A future star played piano on ‘Kentucky Rain’ because no one else was in the studio to do it

The issue of Elvis and cultural appropriation continues to be a source of discussion in the media. The documentary 2017 The king uses the controversy to explore the American experience.

Baz Luhrmanns elvis gives the situation a positive turn. The film portrays the “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You” singer as a man ahead of his time who drew the ire of white supremacists for being inspired by African American music.

It will be interesting to see how future generations view Elvis given the issues discussed by Tyler.

TIED TOGETHER: Elvis Presley made one of his friends promise to sing rock songs and now she’s in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

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