Quote: Frank Sinatra denounces rock n roll in 1957

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 13 18:47:26 UTC 2012

Statements disparaging rock music have been attributed to the popular
singer Frank Sinatra. Here is a modern example: "The most brutal,
ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune
to hear." One book says Sinatra made a remark of this type during a
Congressional hearing about payola in 1958. My access to the ProQuest
Historical Congressional Record is limited and I have not searched
that database yet.

But I did find an Associated Press article from 1957 that reprinted an
excerpt from a magazine called "Western World" published in Paris. Is
any list member familiar with this magazine? Was it published in
English or French?

Cite: 1957 October 28, Trenton Evening Times, Sinatra Blasts At Rock
'n' Roll, [Associated Press: Dateline Paris], Page 6, Column 1 and 2,
Trenton, New Jersey. (GenealogyBank)

[Begin excerpt]

The famed crooner, writing in the magazine Western World published
here, praised the influence of American jazz and popular music as a
way of winning friends and influencing people throughout the world.

"My only deep sorrow," he said, "is the unrelenting insistence of
recording and motion picture companies upon purveying the most brutal,
ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression it has been my
displeasure to hear - naturally I refer to the bulk of rock 'n' roll.

"It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young
people. It smells phony and false. It is sung, played and written for
the most part by cretinous goons and by means of its almost imbecilic
reiterations and sly, lewd - in plain fact dirty - lyrics, and as I
said before, it manages to be the martial music of every sideburned
delinquent on the face of the earth.

"This rancid smelling aphrodisiac I deplore. But, in spite of it, the
contribution of American music to the world could be said to have one
of the healthiest effects of all our contributions."

[End excerpt]

The rising rock star Elvis Presley responded to Sinatra.

Cite: 1957 October 30, Augusta Chronicle, "Frankie rags Rock 'n' Roll;
Presley's sideburns bristle" [INS News Service: Dateline Hollywood],
Page 1A, Column 5 and 6, Augusta, Georgia. (GenealogyBank)

[Begin excerpt]

Presley called a news conference to express righteous wrath over
Sinatra's description of Rock 'n' Roll as "the most brutal, ugly,
degenerate, vicious form of expression, it has been my misfortune to

Presley declared: "It's the greatest music ever, and it will continue
to be so. I like it, and I'm sure many other persons feel the same
way. I also admit it's the only thing I can do."

At least 10,000 fans agreed with Presley last night as the 'Whirling
Hypnotwist' played Svengali to the crowd in his first Hollywood
personal appearance.

[End excerpt]

Sinatra mesmerized the "bobby soxers" of an earlier generation, and
Presley alluded to Sinatra's path to fame.

[Begin excerpt]

"He has a right to his opinion, but I can't see him knocking my music
for no good reason. I admire him as a performer and an actor, but I
think he's badly mistaken about this.

"If I remember correctly he was also part of a trend. I don't see how
he can call the youth of today immoral and delinquent."

[End excerpt]


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