Click below to go to the cover story in the current issue of Rolling Stone. Elvis is lised among the 50 Greatest Artists of All Time. Votes were cast by industry honchos (BMG's Clive Davis), movie figures (Quentin Tarantino), critics (MTV's Kurt Loder) and a variety of colleagues from the music business.
From the introduction:
"It is a fundamental lesson in the history of rock & roll and its continuing power to inspire and transform. The Immortals is a tribute to those who created rock & roll, written by their peers and heirs, those who have learned from their innovations, struggles and legacies.
This year, rock & roll turns fifty, and this is the first of three special issues Rolling Stone is publishing to mark the occasion. Scholars have debated the precise birth date for as long as the music has been around. We chose July 5th, 1954 -- the day Elvis Presley recorded "That's All Right" at Sun Studio in Memphis. On that date, the nineteen-year-old truck driver not only made his first and most important single. He created a new world -- initiating a way of life and expression -- that, even at fifty, is still evolving. There is no better standard for rock & roll immortality.
A preview of the top 10 with excerpts from accompanying essays:
1. The Beatles. "Michael Jackson can sell records until the end of time, but he'll never matter to people as much as The Beatles did." (Elvis Costello)
2. Bob Dylan. "He wasn't pussyfooting around on Like a Rolling Stone or Ballad of a Thin Man. This was the rebel rebelling against the rebellion." (Robbie Robertson, Dylan's former guitarist)
3. Elvis Presley. Out of Tupelo, Miss., and Memphis "came this green, sharkskin-suited girl chaser, wearing eye shadow — a trucker-dandy white boy who must have risked his hide to act so black and dress so gay." (U2's Bono)
4. The Rolling Stones. "If it wasn't for them, I would have been a Soprano for real." (Guitarist and Sopranos star Steven Van Zandt)
5. Chuck Berry. "That feeling of excitement in the pit of my stomach, in the hair on the back of my head: I got more of it from Chuck Berry than from anybody else." (Joe Perry of Aerosmith)
6. Jimi Hendrix. "I will always try to attain that kind of control. ... Who I am as a guitarist is defined by my failure to become Jimi Hendrix." (John Mayer)
7. James Brown. His slot in 1964 concert film The TAMI Show "may be the single greatest rock 'n' roll performance ever captured on film." (American Records' Rick Rubin)
8. Little Richard "They called (rock) 'voodoo music.' They said that it would drive the kids insane. They said that it was just a flash in the pan — the same thing that they're saying about the hip-hop today. Only it was worse back then because ... I was the first black artist whose records the white kids were starting to buy. And the parents were really bitter about me." (Little Richard)
9. Aretha Franklin. "No one could copy her. How could they? She's all alone in her greatness." (Jerry Wexler)
10. Ray Charles. "I always learn something listening to him. It's music that set a tough standard." (Van Morrison)
There's a celebrity-written article about each artist. The excellent Elvis feature is by Bono (see articles section).