Frank Sinatra? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: I greatly enjoy the singing of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, so I was surprised to hear that Sinatra once attacked the type of music that Elvis popularized. Supposedly Sinatra said:
Rock n Roll is the most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear.
Is this quotation accurate? When was this said?
Quote Investigator: There is strong evidence that Sinatra made a remark very similar to this. The wording of the modern version has been altered somewhat. QI has located an Associated Press article from October 1957 that reprinted an excerpt from a magazine called “Western World” published in Paris. Sinatra denounced rock music and musicians using hyperbolic language [FSWW]:
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.”
Elvis Presley’s debut album was released in 1956, and by 1957 he was a star and a cultural sensation.
This article continues with Elvis Presley’s response to Sinatra.