Jackson, Elvis or Brown?

Much of what musical pioneers leave behind is difficult to quantify. Sure, success might be measured in albums sold, concert tickets and merchandise revenue, but that doesn't do much in terms of addressing those things an artist strives for creatively. Influence. Resonance. Cultural impact. Yes, the money is nice, but perhaps not always as important as the memories and mark left behind.

It brings up an interesting question. Using those difficult to define criterea as a guide, who might be considered the most important, the most successful, artist of the rock and roll era. It's a discussion my wife an I had last night. She voted for Michael Jackson. I argued in favor of James Brown. If we're being fair, then Elvis Presley must also be thrown into the mix. I mean, Elvis legitimized the raucous sound of rock. James Brown invented a totally new form of music -- twice. Michael Jackson was the master amalgamator, the artist who constantly and consistantly found ways to bridge the gaps between rock and pop and soul, establishing a sound that was unique yet accessable and crossed demegraphic lines like no artist before or since.

So let's start the discussion. Who ranks as the most significant artist of the rock era -- 1955 forward? Is there an artist I'm leaving off the list? Certainly an educated case might be made for Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney or Prince. Who do you see as the most culturally significant rock, pop, country or soul artist?

We'll also be discussing the artistic and cultural legacy of Michael Jackson today at 2 p.m. on a live chat at augustachronicle.com.

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coco rubio
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coco rubio 06/26/09 - 10:58 am
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Brown...... James Brown.

Brown...... James Brown.

msteal
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msteal 06/26/09 - 11:00 am
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Michael Jackson. . . hands

Michael Jackson. . . hands down.

Boogaloo
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Boogaloo 06/26/09 - 11:12 am
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If I had only one

If I had only one performance to see for my entire life it would be a James Brown show. I saw him a few times in the 60's at the Bell Auditorium and there is just no comparison with either Elvis or Jackson. His great band with Maceo Parker, St Clair Pickney, PeeWee Ellis, Jabo Starks and others, along with the Famous Flames and Vicki Anderson made for an exciting night of entertainment that usually lasted at least 3 hours. So yeah, my vote is for James Brown, the 1960's version.

Boogaloo
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Boogaloo 06/26/09 - 11:16 am
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If I had only one

If I had only one performance to see for my entire life it would be a James Brown show. I saw him a few times in the 60's at the Bell Auditorium and there is just no comparison with either Elvis or Jackson. His great band with Maceo Parker, St Clair Pickney, PeeWee Ellis, Jabo Starks and others, along with the Famous Flames and Vicki Anderson made for an exciting night of entertainment that usually lasted at least 3 hours. So yeah, my vote is for James Brown, the 1960's version.

Boogaloo
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Boogaloo 06/26/09 - 11:28 am
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Sorry for the double post.

Sorry for the double post. As far as the culturally significant rock, country or pop artist goes, I like to think about how the forms of music were before the artist came on the scene and how it was influenced when they were gone. For rock it is not a single person but a group, the Beatles. For country I would have to go back earlier than 1955 and say Hank Williams. For pop it would have to be Frank Sinatra.

REDRIDER
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REDRIDER 06/26/09 - 11:32 am
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Elvis more hits more movies

Elvis more hits more movies

curious
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curious 06/26/09 - 11:40 am
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That would be a hard one

That would be a hard one since they all are icons in different ways -- I was always "in love" with Elvis but actualy grew up (as I am also 50) watching the Jackson 5 on TV and later the cartoon of them on Saturday mornings.  Michael Jackson was one of a kind -- a songwriter, artist, and definitely a performer.  No one could move the way he could move!!  I always felt sorry for him as I do not think he ever had a childhood which of course made him seem "different".  I remember growing up and riding by James Brown's house at Christmas time as it was always decorated to the extreme.  All three will be missed but their legacy and music will never die.  May they all rest in peace -- I am sure heaven is never short of entertainment.

nicolewill
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nicolewill 06/26/09 - 11:43 am
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Elvis no doubt.....

Elvis no doubt.....

NoGoodReason1
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NoGoodReason1 06/26/09 - 11:53 am
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James Brown the godfather of

James Brown the godfather of soul was hustling is [filtered word] long before Elvis or Jackson. If you asked me Jackson learned a few things from the godfather of soul. Hands down James Brown was one hell of a showman and never minded being approched by his fans. I've seen him around town here in Augusta when he was still alive and he also had a smile for anyone that approached him.. 

Connor Threlkeld
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Connor Threlkeld 06/26/09 - 11:56 am
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Brooks... Garth Brooks. He

Brooks... Garth Brooks. He changed country music from backwoods roadhouse and trucker music to an international music phenomenon.

Is he the best of rock and roll? Not really. I just wanted to mess with some people.

John Boyette
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John Boyette 06/26/09 - 12:01 pm
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Interesting question. I am

Interesting question. I am not a music expert, but I enjoy the music and different styles of all three.

All three were constantly evolving. Yes, Elvis had more movies, but is that a plus? Certainly he had a couple of good ones, but most of them were formulaic and a 90-minute diversion. But nothing wrong with that.

I listen to the Elvis channel on satellite radio frequently.  The DJ's and guests point out frequently that Elvis never won a Grammy other than his gospel work. They say it's a shame, and I agree.

In these best-ever type of debates, most people are influenced by the most recent example (Jackson) or someone who is from their region (Brown). But I'll go with Elvis.

No disrespect to the Godfather of Soul or the King of Pop, but if folks are visiting their houses/museums and there's a channel devoted to their music on whatever the next form of radio is in 30 years, then I'll be glad to revisit the argument.

justsaying
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justsaying 06/26/09 - 12:10 pm
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tasteless topic

tasteless topic

Connor Threlkeld
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Connor Threlkeld 06/26/09 - 12:14 pm
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In Jackson's defense, he did

In Jackson's defense, he did make a 13 minute movie. It was called Thriller.

bells
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bells 06/26/09 - 12:40 pm
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Elvis!!!!!!!!

Elvis!!!!!!!!

dejones
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dejones 06/26/09 - 01:09 pm
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The one and only, the

The one and only, the Godfather of Soul - James Brown!!!!!

dani
13
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dani 06/26/09 - 01:30 pm
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Elvis..Without question. 

Elvis..Without question.  He had it all.

fighterzack
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fighterzack 06/26/09 - 01:35 pm
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James Brown. No one has

James Brown. No one has influenced the current course of ALL music the way Brown did. He innovated, starting on the 1 beat. What?!

Neither one of these others did anything like that. All current pop music shows his influence more than anyone else.

Also, best showman of them all, especially when you look at what he was doing compared to his/their contemporaries at that time.

Seashells
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Seashells 06/26/09 - 02:57 pm
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I missed my chance to see

I missed my chance to see Elvis in 71. My Baby was only 3 months old, so I could not go with my friends to Vegas. I think Elvis will always be number 1. He Is The King.

Johnny Edwards
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Johnny Edwards 06/26/09 - 03:14 pm
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Of those three, James Brown,

Of those three, James Brown, hands down. Elvis didn't write his own songs and most of what he did was robbed from black artists who did it first. Michael Jackson was talented, but he destroyed his legacy with his late-in-life freakishness, God bless his soul.

These discussions get muddled, though, when you have to draw a line between individual artists and bands. I don't get that. If we're talking about the most influential artists of the rock era, right up there with Brown, Elvis and Jackson has to be The Beatles. Granted, they were four guys, but their work had as much impact as Elvis'. James Brown had help from the J.B.'s, who get left off "greatest band" lists because they're considered backup musicians.

I think it's time for these rankings to be done in terms of the greatest all-time acts.

sjgraci
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sjgraci 06/26/09 - 03:24 pm
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Beatles.

Beatles.

NoGoodReason1
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NoGoodReason1 06/26/09 - 03:29 pm
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Elvis was a out of shape

Elvis was a out of shape joke before he died and so was Wacko Jacko instead of out of shape he was just mis-shaped. Don't know about you guys but I sure would not have wanted to pay money to see Elivs on stange back in the 70's just he hear him pass gas and forget words to his songs in one of those ugly jump suits. JB wasn't perfect, but he always remained true to his music and fans.. James Brown is # 1

Stephanie Toone
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Stephanie Toone 06/26/09 - 03:58 pm
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It doesn't matter what

It doesn't matter what Michael was like in his last years. These are people under the scrutiny of the limelight. And in his case, a man that was never allotted the opportunity to be a child or truly understand what normal is. So, as far as global impact, his impression on the entertainers of today and the unequivocal musical success he had, MJJ has it!

RedQuinoa
2934
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RedQuinoa 06/26/09 - 08:10 pm
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Elvis! The original... the

Elvis! The original... the greatest.

MaskedMan
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MaskedMan 06/26/09 - 08:52 pm
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I would say....let James

I would say....let James brown open, Michael stand in with James for a few dances, then let Elvis and James and Micheal bring the place down. They all deserve a special place, so no comparisons are equal. Elvis is the best overall singer, Micheal the best dancer and James the most fun to watch.

BH90201
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BH90201 06/26/09 - 11:01 pm
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No doubt Elvis was an

No doubt Elvis was an unbelievable artist, but I have to go with Michael Jackson as #1 and JB a close second.  Elvis could not hold a candle to MJ's dance moves and had he lived to the age of 50 can you imagine the toll a few more years would have put on his body/appearance?  It angers me to think that Elvis left behind a group of so called friends who enjoy notoriety and popularity to this day due to their connection to him and are known as The Memphis Mafia.  This angers me because every one of them have his blood on their hands since they all stood by and watched him self destruct while allowing it to happen because to do anything else might have meant losing their place among those close to him.  It sounds like MJ had some of those same dear friends who stood by and enabled him.  The two most well known figures in the entire world have died before their time and those closest to them helped make it happen.  Unbelievable.

AugustaRaider
0
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AugustaRaider 06/27/09 - 09:29 am
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Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly

jab0226
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jab0226 06/27/09 - 09:32 am
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Well considering Michael J

Well considering Michael J said in his speech at James Browns Funeral that James Brown was a icon and mentor to him ,I would say James Brown.......but that is like saying which is better in the chicken noodle soup .....the chicken or the noodles

 

lokalloudness
13
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lokalloudness 06/27/09 - 03:31 pm
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While I can dig the reasons

While I can dig the reasons for comparisons, there is so much more to figure in.  No one commanded the top 10 charts during their time like Elvis and the Beatles.  Elvis took black music into the mainstream making it popular enough for black artists to be more readily accepted.  The Beatles not only changed the face of music but fashion and popular culture as well.  They were also ground breaking as far as studio technique are concerned.  In a time when touring was a must, the Beatles existed soley as a recording band and left everyone else in the dust.  James Brown took music to a whole other level creating new genres and inspired other artists to create even more genres.  Jackson took it all and took music to yet another level.  To compare would be hard because they each have contrinuted in different ways.  But if you want to look at it from a point of impact...Elvis was the first rock star and aside from his time in the military never waned in popularity and to this day continues to be the most marketed artist in history with The Beatles not far behind. (well Gene Simmons of Kiss might argue that point) and both have had #1 albums in the past few years.  While already legends, Brown and Jackson saw their worldwide popularity and sales wane over time while still alive.  Presley continues to make money and have a consistently rabid following over three decade after his death.

mieshel
3
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mieshel 06/28/09 - 12:23 am
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James Brown, next Michael

James Brown, next Michael Jackson. Only because Mike got the moves from James. Ultimately, Mike shut it down when the House gives a moment of silence for you. Mike may God Bless You as you moonwalk your way through the gates of heaven!

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