Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Honoring a legend

Otis Blackwell is one of the most underrated song writers ever. Elvis fans know him, but most people do not give him his proper due. He is by far my favorite songwriter ever. Otis was born in in Brooklyn and raised in New York. He grew up a fan of country and admired Tex Ritter. He gave performing a try but was not very successful. He kind of got thrown into song writing. in the mid fifties, at 24 Blackwell scored a big hit with the song Fever. In 1955 Blackwell was in New York and was trying to come up with some money. He sold a few songs, the Hill& Range people happened to be there. The bought a song for $25, it was called Don't Be Cruel. Blackwell did a demo of it along with another song, Paralyzed. Elvis would go on to record both of course. Blackwell would do several songs for Elvis in the 50's including All Shook Up. We all know the story of All Shook up. Blackwell's friend once said "Otis, you can write about anything. Write a song about this(shook up a Pepsi bottle) and call it All Shook Up." That's how that classic came to be. All Shook Up would be the biggest hit of 1957. Don't Be Cruel was the biggest hit of 56, and they both stand as Elvis' most successful singles. Blackwell would also write many other classics in the 50's. One of the was Great Balls Of Fire for Jerry Lee Lewis. Blackwell would also write several songs that would Elvis would record in the 60's including Return To Sender, One Broken Heart For Sale,(Such An) Easy Question, and Make Me Know It. All which are favorites of mine. Blackwell would make an attempt to do his own thing again. He had the album "These Are My Songs" and the tribute album "The No.1 King Of Rock and Roll".
Elvis and Otis never met. It is said it was because Elvis never met any of his song writers, which is false. I guess there was some reason behind it, I just can't say for sure. Blackwell did not mind, they both has a system down and it worked. Though I would have been pissed If I was Otis, he shared the writing credit with Elvis on the first few records. That was Parker's doing. Though When Elvis found out, it stopped. Health problems stopped Blackwell from performing in the early 90's and he could not even talk. He had to communicate by computer. He passed away at his home in Nashville in 2002. Otis is my man, he wrote most of the songs which I consider my all time favorites. All Shook Up was the song that got me into the whole Elvis thing so hardcore. (Such An) Easy Question is on of my all time favorites. Gotta respect the man who wrote the tow most successful songs ever for Elvis.Hey Little Girls and Priscilla are also songs I have loved for a long time by other artist. Of course I am big on The Killer and he is responsible for both Breathless and Great Balls of Fire. Classics, all of them. Also, I would have loved to have heard Elvis do Hey Little Girl. I think he could have rocked that pretty well.
Anyway, lets show Mr. Blackwell some love. For some reason most people do not even know of him. Unless you are up on Elvis are a serious rock historian, you probably have not heard of him. Damn shame, one of the most talented writers ever. Below are some of his songs not sung by Elvis that I dig.

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