was elvis more famous than you-know-who?

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 minutes.

HOW FA­MOUS WAS ELVIS? That was the ques­tion on Quora. Once upon a time, that it was fairly easy to an­swer: Ac­cording to Jerry Hop­kins, whose Elvis – A Bi­og­raphy (1971) was the first bi­og­raphy of the man, a global survey showed that more people in the world rec­og­nized Elvis by his first (or given) name—and that in­cluded you-know-who!—than they rec­og­nized anyone else with their given and family names combined.

But that was al­most fifty years ago, be­fore the Age of Celebrity and the coming of the world wide web made count­less pop stars ubiq­ui­tous wher­ever there was elec­tricity or a good con­nec­tion. So, as I haven’t seen a sim­ilar global survey about fame and fa­mil­iarity in the 21st cen­tury, I opted to an­swer the ques­tion with a bit of humor:

“Elvis was sooooo fa­mous that if you were to get lost in the deepest, darkest part of the Amazon, and were cap­tured by the last re­maining tribe of can­ni­bals — all of them starving after a weekend ayahuasca bender — and as they were preparing you for their bar­beque, all you would have to do is say ‘Elvis’ and somehow, like in a bad movie, there’d be a bongo sound, the in­sis­tent throb of a bass guitar, and a stinging elec­tric guitar riff from an in­vis­ible rock band in the background.

“Then all those can­ni­bals would gather ’round and listen to that bongo sound. They’d grab their bare­foot ba­bies by the hand. They’d turn and tease, they’d hug and squeeze. And then they’d dig right in and do the clam!

“Of course, after doing the clam they’d have worked up an ap­petite and be even hun­grier and you’d look even tastier, so you’d never be able to re­turn and tell this re­mark­able tale about Elvis’s far-reaching fame and your, ahem, fortune.”


Wafer-sized portions

So far, there has been one com­ment left by a person of equally good mood and even temper: Marcus Lun­gren (who de­scribes him­self as very well-adjusted and not de­pressed at all, a rare thing in­deed) asked, “But would they eat Elvis?”

To which I replied by making an al­lu­sion to you-know-who: “Only if he was served in wafer-sized por­tions by a holy man with a dash of wine to help it go down.”

If you want to follow this thread and see if anyone else takes the time to com­ment, look here: How fa­mous was Elvis?

Fi­nally, com­paring the fame of the Bea­tles with that of you-know-who got John Lennon in a hel­luva lot of trouble below the fa­bled Mason-Dixon line in the United States. But this isn’t 1966 and I’m not one of the Fab Four.


CannibalHolocaust 2 1500

FEA­TURED IMAGE: The image at the top of this page is from the little-known horror film (un­less you are a horror film afi­cionado, of course) Can­nibal Holo­caust. This scene shows what could be a holy man serving up someone in larger-than-wafer-sized por­tions with what could be a dash of wine to help it go down. Butcher Block (a weekly se­ries cel­e­brating horror’s most ex­treme films) calls Can­nibal Holo­caust an “un­com­fort­able watch.” If you are squea­mish, I sug­gest you do not rush on over to Google and type in “can­nibal holo­caust” and click on Images.



9 thoughts on “was elvis more famous than you-know-who?”

  1. I have been around & around the net about this Elvis stuff. Maybe YOU can find out?

    The cur­rent 2020 Bill­board ‘all-time ’ album stats (starting in Au­gust 1963) notes Pres­ley’s No.1’s at 2-Aloha From Hawaii (1973) and Elvis 30 (2002). As Roustabout hit no.1 in Jan­uary 1965, why is it omitted?

    Who, in any uni­verse, can get Bill­board’s ed­i­tors to cor­rect their error also noting more weeks on chart using these new rules?

    It makes me wonder who else’s stats are overlooked?

    A lot of young people look to Bill­board as ‘of­fi­cial’.

    It could be perhaps?

    Please ad­vise.

    Thank you

    Colin Bratkovich, au­thor of Just Re­member This

    • COLIN

      Thanks for the comment.

      First, I haven’t paid much at­ten­tion to Bill­board in decades. De­ci­sions like weighting air­play above ac­tual record sales when tab­u­lating their pop chart back in the ’90s still baf­fles me.

      As for their lists of the “greatest” thises and “all-time” thats, it seems like they go out of their way to set up sys­tems where Elvis’s greatest ac­com­plish­ments aren’t counted. One way they do this is to only use chart po­si­tions from their pop chart since it was re­named the Hot 100 in 1958. That means that all of Pres­ley’s hits from 1956-1957 aren’t counted! The last list of Bill­board’s greatest artists that I saw didn’t even list Elvis in the top 10!

      As for the all-time al­bums list that only men­tioned two Presley LPs, please send me a link so that I could check it out.

      Hang in there ...


      PS: Here is a link to a re­view of Col­in’s book, Just Re­member This:


  2. I can’t seem to link, but I can tell you that it is very easy to find Bill­board chart his­tory & nav­i­gate to Bill­board 200. It is STILL not COR­RECTED, as (al­ready noted to you) Roustabout—by its cur­rent rules—is MISSING. Maybe you can get Sony to get this fixed?

    I also note that, for some years, the same listing has a pic­ture of Willie Nelson for Pres­ley’s Classic Christmas Album, as well as a pic for Elvis’ Gold Records Volume 4, using the wrong cover (Vol.5). How come?

    It’s al­most 2021 and still a lot of con­fu­sion about Elvis Pres­ley’s legacy.

    How come no one will cor­rect this?

    Thank you.

    • COLIN

      Thanks for the second comment!

      Re­lying on Bill­board to be con­sis­tent and re­li­able ap­pears to be a waste of en­ergy. The only con­sis­tency I can read into the way they change their chart his­tory cri­teria reg­u­larly is to make newer artists look more suc­cessful than older artists.

      As for re­li­ablity re­garding in­for­ma­tion about Gold and Plat­inum Record Awards, don’t ex­pect that from the Rolling Stone or RIAA web­sites ei­ther as both are con­sis­tently error-prone.

      As for get­ting Sony to lis­tent ot me—Hell’s Belles, I have a tough time get­ting col­lec­tors to listen to me!!!

      Keep on keepin’ on ...


      Rock­ahula, baby!


  3. The Elvis Presley Roustabout LP has FI­NALLY been up­dated (De­cember 2021) into Bill­board’s all-time stats, which started in Au­gust 1963. It is no longer of­fi­cially OMITTED.

    That’s good.

    While Bill­board’s Top 200 still did not exist in Au­gust 1963, along with cred­ited weeks on the chart. This af­fects other recording artists’ lega­cies as well.

    • COLIN

      Thanks for the comment.

      Three things:

      1. I made slight ed­i­to­rial changes to your state­ments to make them align with the “style” of this blog.

      2. I gave up on Bill­board decades ago. Their “his­tor­ical” ma­nip­u­la­tions of their var­ious charts over the past forty years have seemed to have two things in common: 

      a) De­flating the achieve­ments of older artists while
      b) in­flating the achieve­ments of more re­cent artists.

      No artist has been more neg­a­tively af­fected by these shenani­gans than Elvis.

      3. I do not un­der­stand your final state­ment: “While Billboard’s Top 200 still did not exist in Au­gust 1963, along with cred­ited weeks on the chart. This af­fects other recording artists’ lega­cies as well.”

      Keep on keepin’ on!


      • NEAL

        1. I ap­pre­ciate you get­ting back to me!

        2. The cur­rent stats for recording artists for album re­leases are called the Bill­board 200 and are posted weekly. When you look it up your­self, you will find that Elvis along with his 1963 con­tem­po­raries START counting al­bums and weeks on the album chart from Au­gust 1963. This is when Bill­board dropped its sep­a­rate mono and stereo LP charts and com­bined them into one.

        3. Weeks on the chart also seem to be im­por­tant to Bill­board, noting that the chart could NOT count 200 plac­ings in Au­gust 1963 as a real 200 would NOT exist for an­other six years! So, many al­bums then staying pop­ular and lasting 20 weeks on a chart of 125 or 150 are NOT counted, al­though Bill­board does not have an ex­pla­na­tion for this, but this is what they NOW use, giving artists credit for weeks on the chart. The same charted weeks exist for Bill­board’s other charts, as well.

        4. Are you still with me, Neal?

        5. You are MORE IN­FORMED on the state of the Bill­board Hot 100, which they started as of Sep­tember 1958. What bothers me the most about this ear­lier change of their ‘of­fi­cial’ stats is that it’s only a name change. Bill­board HAD used 100 plac­ings on its pop­ular sin­gles since 1955. So 100 plac­ings DID exist, cred­iting weeks on the chart on an equal basis for singles.

        6. I agree with you that Elvis Pres­ley’s stature has been squeezed but so have his con­tem­po­raries on the sin­gles chart (1955-1958) and on the al­bums chart (1956 to Au­gust 1963). Recording artists be­fore 1955 HAD been some­what dissed but that’s an­other story. So are the Bill­board rhythm & blues/soul charts and the country & western charts in listed names and num­bers of records.

        7. Please look it up and you will get a better un­der­standing of how this stuff has been done.

        8. More so, at least Roustabout has been ‘found’ by Bill­board as a #1 and added weeks on chart as well.

        9. If I am still not there, please let me know.

        Thank you,


        • C

          1. You are wel­come! I ap­pre­ciate your com­ments on this blog.

          2-3. Trying to keep up with and make sense of the many and myriad de­ci­sions that the Bill­board people have made through the past few decades (let’s say since the de­cline of rock and the as­cen­dency of hip-hip in the ’90s) is be­yond mortal ken. When rock & roll reared its un­ruly head in 1955, the Bill­board best-selling LP chart had only 15 po­si­tions and in­creased it to 25 in late 1957.

          Then, in mid-1959, they split into two charts, one for mono LPs (with 50 po­si­tions) and one for stereo LPs with 30 po­si­tions. In mid-1912, they in­creased the mono chart to 150 po­si­tions and the stereo chart to 50 po­si­tions. So, up until this point, the Bill­board LP charts were sorta all over the place and a bit of a night­mare for anyone to make sense of retrospectively.

          As you men­tioned, in Au­gust 1963, the mono and stereo LPs were dropped and com­bined into a single “Top LPs” survey with 150 po­si­tions. The var­ious “greatest ever” lists that Bill­board com­piles to com­pare artists start with the en­tries of Au­gust 17, 1963, not be­cause it’s the most ac­cu­rate manner in which to make the lists but be­cause it’s the most convenient.

          If the Bill­board ed­i­tors wanted to make the MOST ac­cu­rate greatest-ever lists they would only count al­bums that made the Top 15 from 1955 to the present.

          By the many weird greatest-ever lists they have come up with in the past 30 years (moving artists like Elvis down the All-Time Greatest leaders while moving artists like Madonna up), people like you and me should not be thought con­spiracy theory-oriented if we ar­rive at the con­clu­sion that these greatest-ever lists that the ed­i­tors make do NOT in­di­cate that they are in­ter­ested in ac­cu­racy and his­tory as much as they are in­ter­ested in pro­moting the still on­going ca­reers of 21st-century artists.

          4. I be­lieve so but you will have to de­ter­mine that by my re­sponses above.

          5-7. Agreed. Again, by using the stats from the starting point of a cos­metic name change from “top 100” to “Hot 100” they have elim­i­nated most of Presley’s hits of the ’50s along with hits by sev­eral other artists who would figure in any greatest-ever list (no­tably Fats Domino and Ricky Nelson).

          8. How Roustabout got to #1 in be­tween Beach Boys Con­cert and Bea­tles ’65 is a bigger mys­tery to me than how the com­pilers at Bill­board “lost” it. While rein­ter­preting it as part of con­spiracy against Elcis’ legacy is more fun, a com­puter glitch and/or a team of care­less or clue­less proofreaders/editors makes more sense.

          9. Okay: As I don’t know where “there” is, I don’t know if you ar­rived yet.

          Thanks for the in­ter­esting com­ments and please please me by keeping them coming!


        • COLIN

          Thanks for an­other de­tailed comment.

          I am using it as the basis for an ar­ticle and will in­cor­po­rate your state­ments and ar­gu­ments into my ar­ticle which is coming soon to a screen near you.

          Rock­ahula, baby!



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