And now Folks, we are going to cover one of the most pressing questions in Rock’n’Roll. It’s a question that YOU are also invited to answer.

I spent time asking the top rock’n’roll performers in Russia who their all-time Rock’n’Roll Hero was. Next month I will continue sharing with you the responses of more Russian rockin’ stars. Their answers were varied, albeit you can probably work out now which name came up the most.

So here are the big names in Russian Rock’n’Roll, sharing their number one rockin’ heroes with you !

Vladimir Katulskiy, Leader of the Smolensk neo-rockabilly band “Route 67”:
Possibly someone would call my answer obvious, but for me the answer is unambiguous and clear, immediate and without hesitation – Elvis ! Probably everyone has a favourite artist and his own rock’n’roll hero. Tastes are different, each can have his own feel on this question. For some it’s very difficult to choose the best. There were a lot of great, cool musicians, artists, heroes of rock’n’roll, from the very rare, to the most recognisable for all. I love them all infinitely, appreciate them, collect their records etc. But if it is one globally, for all time it’s Elvis ! When talking about Hank Williams, Mouse Zinn said, “before him, there was nothing”. Well, before Elvis there was nothing ! Yes, there were local successes: For example, Bill Haley and his Comets started playing rock’n’roll a little before. And what many will say is the rockabilly record number 1 of all-time is by Johnny Burnette and his Rock’n’Roll Trio ( I have 3 copies ), etc. But it’s Elvis – a man who made himself; 1954, the pioneer, Elvis – the reference/standard/model/gauge of what rock’n’roll is all about. Elvis – the first one on the scene who really blew it up, making rock’n’roll music and as a consequence, brought the sub-culture with it, brought this underground Movement to the masses. He allowed it to get out of the sheds and garages; Elvis – a catalyst for the emergence of hundreds of great followers; and he is still having that impact, even so long after his death. For Elvis, it was a long and always high quality musical career; another stunning example was his work in the sixties. Elvis – probably was marked by a gift from God. One word – ELVIS! One word – KING!

Aleksey Schukin, leader of the Moscow rockabilly group “The Hi-Tones”:

The first Rock’n’Roll song I heard was “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison. For sure it was more pop music, but it woke up my interest to Rock’n’Roll. I began to look for different info about this music and of course I got Elvis’ records. Later I listened to records by Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran. But the main Rock’n’Roll hero of mine became Johnny Burnette and his Rock’n’Roll trio. It was his music that mostly influenced my manner of singing.

Oleg Ivanin, lead guitarist of the Moscow rockabilly group “The Great Pretenders”:
I would like to tell you how I discovered Elvis Presley. I began to play rockabilly in the late 1980s (before that I played as a guitarist in progressive or pop rock bands) and I was very surprised to hear how one of the participants at a gig praised Elvis. It’s difficult to imagine now that the perception of this unbelievably successful artist in the West was in the Soviet Union was rather negative! In general people knew almost nothing about him. I tried to find an article about him in the Soviet Encyclopaedic Dictionary (a huge book by the way) and there wasn’t any!

Shortly after that a friend of mine gave me a tape with 90 minutes of Elvis’ hits: Most of them were released in the 1950s. Naturally I listened to it many times. All of the songs were great: Elvis’ voice was sometimes mild and pleasant, sometimes sharp and impressive. The musicians who recorded the arrangement were high class professionals. As far as I know, at the time when it was recorded better quality could be achieved only by multiple repetition of the tracks, played by all musicians as at the concerts. The best versions of the records were used then for radio, singles, LPs, etc. Nevertheless it didn’t help much sometimes and many rock’n’roll recordings of the ‘50s sound amateur, by modern standards. In Elvis’ case everything was very tasty and almost perfect. I learned later how great he was on stage, particularly in the early years of his career and I have to admit that my respect for this artist is still growing. When we play gigs, even now, around 40 years after his death, people are still asking us to play “something from Elvis Presley”.

Evgeny Kudryashov, leader of the Russian group “The Honky Tonk Trio”:

In my opinion, rock’n’roll is first of all Jerry Lee Lewis, because the energy of this guy really rolls. Sometimes it seems that he’s just going crazy, while performing songs like High School Confidential or Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On. He is a bomb with a very short fuse, each moment threatening to become a big fireball ! As a guitarist, I am especially interested in how to transmit that explosive piano energy and to incarnate this spirit of intoxicating rock ‘n’ roll into my Honky Tonk Trio band!

Sergey Kuteynikov, leader of the Russian rockabilly group “The Great Pretenders”:
Here is my favorite 1950s rock`n`roll hero !

It is Elvis Presley. Why? Because it is obvious that he had the best voice of them all and moved around the stage in the 1950s better than anyone else on the scene. In fact I copy a few of his moves on stage myself. He was a happy go lucky guy – a real cool cat ! He’s one of the inventors of my favourite style of music, Rockabilly.

I dig most of his 1950s’ stuff, from “Mystery Train” to “I Got Stung” and I liked his gold lame jacket style of dress on his 1957 USA-Canada tour -to my mind it was the epitome of the rock`n`roll 1950s’ singer-look. His 1968 comeback special black leather image is marvelous, too. Rock on, Elvis !

Thank you, Guys ! As advised, next month we will continue looking at the best Russian rockin’ performers sharing their number one choices with you.

testing 234And now my question to you, Dear Readers –U who is YOUR Rock’n’Roll Hero – and Why ?

Richard Hume