When Memphian Elvis Presley first appeared on the musical scene, he created a revolution that continues to this day. Eddie Fisher and Perry Como had previously led the music popularity charts. The "daring" music of Fats Domino, Little Richard, The Drifters and The Platters, could only be heard on traditionally black stations. Elvis' music transcended race distinctions, and his success was instrumental in opening the radio air waves for artists who had previously been excluded on "white" radio stations. Elvis' music energized the youthful beginnings of a cultural revolution that created a rock 'n roll rebellion.
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William C. Handy, "Father of the Blues"
A citizen of the world, the legendary W.C. Handy was born in Alabama and lived in various other cities, but always called Memphis his favorite. His father was a minister who opposed his interest in music. Not until Handy moved to Memphis did he begin his climb to fame as "the Father of the Blues" on Memphis' Beale Street. There he composed the first blues melody ever published, "Mr. Crump." The tune was a campaign song for political newcomer E.H. Crump's mayoral race. It was later published as the "Memphis Blues."
Handy took work songs that incorporated the African-American heritage and transformed them into the blues. This new American art form made Memphis a magnet for aspiring black musicians. Furry Lewis, Alberta Hunter, B.B. King, Ma Rainey, Rufus Thomas and Phineas Newborn were among those who joined Handy and filled the halls of Beale Street with soulful blues, new rhythms and jazz.
Our staff recommends the following link on W.C. Handy.