"His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac ... It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people."
FILE - Elvis Presley poses with his Gibson J-200 guitar in an MGM studio publicity photo from the 1950s. Elvis Presley Enterprises said Wednesday Feb. 9, 2011 it's suing men in Florida and England on claims of copyright infringement and illegal sale of a DVD and CD box set of recordings and footage of the singer's performances. (AP Photo/MGM, File )
Those words could very well have been spoken about any of a plethora of artists just in the past two decades alone, but they belong to Frank Sinatra, and they were spoken almost 65 years ago.
The legendary crooner was talking about another future legend: Elvis Aaron Presley.
At the time, Presley was still a fair distance away from being crowned the King of Rock 'n' Roll, but the controversy surrounding him was already afoot.
Was he a racist, as some alleged — a pillager of an African American culture he didn't understand? Or was he a visionary who heard the music of the future in the swamps of Mississippi and took it to the mainstream, forcing others to acknowledge the greatness of it?
The answer to those questions is a deeply personal and divisive one.
There are those who condemned Presley's tendency to "borrow" the bluesy sound that has since made many black men famous.
Perhaps the most notable among them were Big Bill Broonzy and Chuck D.
"He's singing the same thing I'm singing now, and he knows it. 'Cause really, the melody and the tune and the way we used to call it 'rocking the blues' years ago when I was a kid ... that's what he's doing now," Broonzy was once famously quoted in TIME Magazine. "Rock and roll is a steal from the old, original blues."
Broonzy had hit the nail on the head, of course. Many future rock acts — everyone from the Rolling Stones to members of the Beatles — would list bluesmen among their influences.
Chuck D was harsher with his criticisms when he rapped, in the Public Enemy track Fight the Power:
"Elvis was a hero to most,
But he never meant s--t to me, you see.
Straight up racist that sucker was,
Simple and plain."
That song was recorded in 1989, and Chuck D later changed his tune in an NBC documentary when he said, "Elvis was a brilliant artist ... there was always a great deal of respect for Elvis."
Others were appreciative of what they saw as Elvis's laying of the groundwork for the future successes of black musicians.
"He was an integrator. Elvis was a blessing," said Little Richard, who was the first black musician to land on the pop charts. "They wouldn't let black music through. He opened the door."
And, of course, Presley was also the vanguard for a future sound.
"When I first heard Elvis' voice, I just knew that I wasn't going to work for anybody and nobody was going to be my boss," said Bob Dylan. "Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail."
John Lennon made a similar observation, noting, "If there hadn't been an Elvis, there wouldn't have been the Beatles."
In their own words, many of the most successful rock 'n' roll musicians have claimed Elvis was either a direct influence on their music, or opened the door for their success.
He led a cultural upheaval that brought exposure to many of the artists from which he borrowed, and it's unquestionable that he laid the groundwork — with some help from others, like Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry — for a paradigm shift in the music industry.
On the days surrounding the 36th anniversary of the King's death — which was this Friday — it's important to remember the things he achieved during his life.
By the time you've read this, I will already have done so.