East Coast residents who decide to watch Baz Luhrman’s new hit movie about the King of Rock and Roll might notice something about the film that hits close to home.
Cardinal News wrote an article about the film noting two Virginia “easter eggs” in the film. Easter Egg is a term used to describe a hidden message, image, or feature in a movie.
Although well known on the East Coast, most casual observers may not know that Elvis’ first hit was a song called “That’s Alright Mama”, originally written by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup.
Dwayne Yancey writes in the play “In one of the first scenes, a young Elvis peeks through the cracks of a juke joint and watches bluesman Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup – played by musician Gary Clark Jr. – playing “It’s Alright, Mom. This song, of course, later became Elvis’ first hit. The film returns to this scene several times. The implication is that Elvis owes his musical inspiration to Crudup. It’s not false. Elvis also recorded other Crudup songs – “So Glad You’re Mine” and “My Baby Left Me”. The precise details of the movie’s scene with a young Elvis peering through the cracks may have been contrived, but there were apparently facts behind it. Pop culture website Consequence writes that not only was Crudup in Presley’s personal record collection, but “in a 1956 interview with The Charlotte Observer, Presley suggested he had also seen the bluesman in person as a child, saying ‘Down in Tupelo, Mississippi, I used to hear old Arthur Crudup banging his box like I do now.'” The Blues Hall of Fame has a quote from Presley in which he added, “If never did i get to the place where i could feel all old Arthur felt, i would be a musician like no one had ever seen. If Elvis in his prime thought he was not yet on Crudup’s level, how spectacular must Crudup be?
Crudup eventually gave up music and moved to Northampton County, where he worked in the fields but still played some music on the side.
Yancey continues, “In the early ’70s, a lot of these old bluesmen got belated recognition and Crudup toured for a time as opening act for Bonnie Raitt. Crudup died in 1974, aged 68. Those who made statements at the time attesting to Crudup’s influence included Elton John, Rod Stewart and John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The man some called “the father of rock ‘n’ roll” is buried in Franktown.
The Big Boys’ sons recorded a blues album in 2000 called “The Franktown Blues”.