ELVIS PRESLEY AND THE BILLBOARD
Hello dear friends and friends of this fantastic radio. Once again I am writing to you through this page, giving a musical overview of the year 1971, the first year without the Beatles, but in which we will see that, even after their separation, the boys from Liverpool continued to be fully topical in a very diverse year in the musical realm.
We will find a bit of everything, you will be able to see it in this new installment. We will see that Elvis continues to have that pull of the late 60’s, which had placed him back in the musical foreground, but from then on his career will begin to be filled with lights and shadows (with more shadows than lights). ). But that will be for later, so let’s not anticipate events, and enjoy a lot this 1971 that concerns us. While we meet again, be happy.
Cesar Valle (Torrelavega – Spain)
ELVIS IN 1971
In 1971 the American press named Elvis the most outstanding young American of the year, after a national vote. The award ceremony took place at the Memphis Memorial. In addition to this award, on September 8, the Academy of Arts and Sciences awarded him the “Bing Crosby” award, a title previously won by artists such as Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington.
Respecting the agreement signed in 1969, Elvis returned to appear again at the International Hotel in Las Vegas on January 26. Between that date and February 23, the singer would perform a total of 57 concerts, with some variations in his repertoire compared to what was performed the previous year, with songs such as “The Impossible Dream” or “How Great Thou Art“. In the month of March, and before the 28 concerts that he would give in Lake Tahoe, Elvis would carry out the first of the three recording sessions that he would do in Nashville that year. The other two were between May 15 and 21 and June 8 and 10. These recordings, though brief, were highly productive, leading to his new albums, “Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas“, “He Touched Me“, “Elvis Now” and “Elvis (Fool)“, as well as the singles ” Until It’s Time For You To Go” and “He Touched Me“.
Undoubtedly, the experience and good work of producer Felton Jarvis served so that, in addition to the aforementioned performances in Las Vegas and Tahoe, Elvis recorded some of the best performances of his career.
In addition to these first performances of the year, Elvis would perform, throughout the year, another 70 concerts, 57 at the International Hotel between August 9 and September 6.
1971 was the beginning of the decline of his marriage with Priscilla, which would culminate in their divorce in February 1973. At Christmas this year, the couple’s relatives were able to observe a certain distance between them, which finally led the singer to confess to their most intimate, on New Year’s Day 1972, that Priscilla had left him.
THE BILLBOARD IN 1971
The America of 1971 was, in a way, thorny. There was everything, like every year, Nixon was nearing the end of his term, facing new elections, which gave him another victory. Vietnam seemed to be entering its final being or not being, in a year in which 28 prisoners died in the Attica prison, in New York, on September 13, becoming the origin of great riots throughout the country.
On a musical level, three were the great events that take place in the country. In the first place, the concert organized by the former Beatle, George Harrison, in the summer, at Madison Square Garden, to combat the famine that was ravaging Bangladesh, an eastern province of Pakistan that, after a cruel civil war, achieved its independence. .
This concert would see the light in a triple album format, reaching number 1 in both the United States and England. People like Billy Preston, Bob Dylan or Eric Clapton collaborated on it.
The second important event, musically speaking, was on July 3, 1971, and it was the death in Paris of Jim Morrison, the leader of The Doors. Finally, the last fact of relative importance was the separation of Simon & Garfunkel, after the tremendous success they had obtained with “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. From that moment on, each one on their own, they would start their solo careers.
The US hits of 1971 begin just as they had ended the year before, with George Harrison and “My Sweet Lord” taking the top spot. But there were other successes in the singles relationship. Song of the year was Three Dog Night‘s dynamic “Joy The World“, the longest running number 1 of the year with 6 weeks in the top spot. The Raiders also reached number 1 with “Indian Reservatino“, and the reborn Bee Gees with “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart“.
Tony Orlando was once again successful, this time with “Knock Three Times”, and also Janis Joplin‘s posthumous work “Me and Bobby McGee” composed by Kriss Kristofersson.
The eternal Rolling Stones did not miss their annual hit, and in this 1971 they placed “Brown Sugar” at the top of the Billboard, just like Rod Stewart with a song called “Maggie May” with a certain folk air, in which he had the invaluable collaboration of Ron Wood of the Stones on mandolin, was also number 1.
The Motown label also triumphed, The Temptations with “Just My Imagination“, and from the world of cinema appeared Isaac Hayes and the central theme of the film “Shaft” (the jewel of the so-called “Blaxpoitation” cinema, a cinema made by directors of color ), with the collaboration of the Stax label group, The Bar-Kays, and the Memphis Horns in the wind section (these guys were the ones who put their trumpets and saxes at the service of Elvis in the recordings of the American Sound Studios in 1969) . So so much talent together made a masterpiece, which also won the Oscar for best song and the Grammy for best film or television theme.
More people of color who triumphed that year 1971. In this case, the female trio Honey Cown and their song “Want Sands“, accompanied by a young Ray Parker Jr. on rhythm guitar. This gentleman would become famous for composing the soundtrack for the movie “Ghostbusters.“
The Funky sound of Sly and The Family Stone, with “Family Affair” (Billy Preston, who had just recorded The Beatles‘ “Let It Be” album, was here on keyboards) was also at the top. And Cher, with “Gipsy Tramps and Thieves,” had her first number after Sonny and Cher disbanded.
Another of the proper names of that year was the composer Carole King who first with “It’s Too Late“, and later with “You’ve Got a Friends” (she is in the voice of James Taylor), reached number 1.
1971 was the first year of the post-Beatle era, and anything that sounded like the Liverpool band automatically became a hit. Paul McCartney with “Uncle Albert“, a song in which he mixed various fragments of unfinished compositions (similar to what he did with Abbey Road), and in which he introduces, among other things, sounds of the sea, the croaking of a frog or a storm, became number 1.
But without a doubt, the big winners of the year at a massive level were the Osmonds Brothers and their commercial line of songs, with a flurry of hits in the United States (they were even compared to The Jackson Five, because they were also five brothers, and the Donny Osmond, the smallest of them, was their star. Also, being white, the comparison gave a lot of play in the press). First with “One Bad Apple” (a song rejected by the Jacksons), and later with “Go Away Little Girls“, composed by Carole King, they managed to reach the top.
The last number 1 of the year would go to folk singer Melanie and her song “Brand New Key“.
Thus ends a year 1971 in which we see the commerciality of new special artists for adolescents, such as The Osmonds or The Partridge Family, who was the cheerful mask of simplicity that presided over the entire year and in which we verified that the Beatle shadow was still very elongated.
Information provided by Cesar Valle (Torrelavega – Spain)
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