When asked his thoughts on Elvis by St. Louis Magazine, Chuck Berry notes:
“I think he had a wonderful manager (chuckles). But one thing Presley had that no other person had was that voice. He had a voice better than Bing Crosby’s. That’s another thing: I came up believing that singing did not mean just saying it with ups and downs and varied melody. Singing is almost like swinging: It vibrates.
Understandably, Chuck Berry and other African-American rockers at the time probably felt at least somewhat bitter and resentful toward this white kid popularizing the hits they created.
In the fifties, white musicians were classified as genuine Rock and Roll, while black artists were filed under the second-class title of Rhythm ‘n’ Blues. Songs were being covered by dolled up white boys and topping the charts, without any credit being given to the original artists.
I would be pissed too.
At the time, the issue reigned supreme on the minds’ of black performers, but in retrospect, with age, distance, and maturity, they can appreciate Elvis for what he brought to music and culture, as illustrated in the more or less favorable quotation from Berry.
In the years following, and to this day, the ‘founding fathers’ of rock n roll, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, are typically given appropriate recognition for their contributions to the genre, allowing a distinction between their roles and what Elvis accomplished.
Each represents two very different sides of the same musical coin.
Berry and friends are the Fathers of Rock, whereas Elvis will always be the King.