Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Rich Cohen, Machers And Rockers: Sam Phillips And Leonard Chess


On comparing Leonard Chess and Sam Phillips, Rich Cohen in Machers and Rockers has a point:

....To me, Phillips is less interesting than Leonard because he sold the big contract, because he took the easy money, because he made a decision that was small time and it was a decision that initiated the terrible transition of Elvis from wild leering figure into declawed matinee idol. It was a failure of confidence, nerve, imagination. Leonard would never have sold that contract; he would shouted, “All right, motherfuckers! Let’s get rich!”... 

I’ve read any number of versions of Sam Phillips selling Elvis’s contract to RCA, but none that come anywhere close to Cohen’s view of it as a failure of nerve.

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