Elvis, Jerry Lee, B.B., Isaac, and Justin ... 

First mentions in Time magazine of Memphis Musicians

A while back, we took a look at the first mention of Elvis Presley in TIME magazine, a snooty 1956 record review that made it clear that the King — at least according to the magazine’s music critic — was not quite the stuff of royalty.

So we wondered: Was TIME right about any of our most talented residents? Did they recognize genius the first time they saw it? Well, most of the time, they did. Here’s what TIME first said about:

B.B. King (January 10, 1969): "King is all surging masculine power. Lucille is all sinuous womanly grace. If listeners are more moved by her than by him, King does not mind. Lucille is 'the one girl I can depend on' — his electric guitar. Between them, King and Lucille are producing some of the most potent, polished blues the nation has ever heard. It has taken white audiences 20 years to discover them."

Jerry Lee Lewis (May 19, 1958): "A fortnight ago, [disk jockey Alan Freed] rolled into Boston and set up shop in its 7,200-seat Arena. Almost 5,000 hip kids poured in the Arena to catch his 17 acts, including four bands, and starring Dreamboat Groaner Jerry Lee Lewis.

"Frenzy soon set in. The aisles filled with dancers, and others got into the groove by jumping on their seats. ... A while before midnight the wound-up kids spilled into the streets. Just who was responsible for what happened next is a matter of dispute. All around the Arena, common citizens were set upon, robbed and sometimes beaten. A young sailor caught a knife in the belly, and two girls with him were thrashed. In all, nine men and six women were roughed up enough to require hospital treatment. Boston police blamed Freed and his frenetic fans, but could not prove it, since they nabbed nobody."

Isaac Hayes (December 20, 1971): "When Isaac Hayes is ready to start a concert, he sings his first song from offstage. Only then do the doors burst open, and a cloaked, bearded, shaven-headed figure strides forward, accompanied by four armed bodyguards. A black girl doing an 'African dance of adoration' stops long enough to remove Hayes' orange, black and white cape, revealing him arrayed in black tights, fur cuffs, a leather vest and a necklace of gold chains. He sits down behind the organ and launches into a jazz-styled number called 'Do Your Own Thing.' In the course of two hours he sings only six or seven pieces: long, intricate blends of soul, blues, rock, white pop and gospel, with titles like 'One Big Unhappy Family,' 'I Stand Accused' or 'Our Day Will Come!' Then, tossing a handful of Isaac Hayes medallions to the crowd, he is gone, with no encores. The rite is over.

"At 28, Isaac Hayes is the brightest new black pop star in the U.S., the composer of the hit song from the movie Shaft (now in the top five on the charts) and a singer whose last four LPs have all been ... platinum disks."

Justin Timberlake (March 27, 2000): "N Sync, like most groups of well-adjusted college-age boys, has two main modes of communication: singing and quoting movies. ... It takes so little to set them off that even talking about singing makes them sing. ... All five order the same dish — a steak with Jack Daniels sauce, spicy mashed potatoes and vegetables. ... 'My dog eats better stuff than that,' says Justin Timberlake, 19, the group's heartthrob."


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