|ELVIS & MEXICO - RACISM TO REDEMPTION
November 19, 2015 - Billboard / Elvis Express Radio
|Elvis Express Radio brings news of Elvis releases and provides free online entertainment & news to fans around the world. We DO NOT sell any Elvis products
Rumours of racism brought a backlash against his music and movies in Mexico, but that didn’t keep him from making his Spanish singing debut in 'Fun in Acapulco' and influencing
sparking a rock en espanol revolution.
Elvis Presley performs the Mexican standard “Guadalajara” in Spanish with a mariachi band in the film Fun in Acapulco, a postcard picture of the then-sizzling resort in which Elvis
also gives a "local" street kid a ride on a bike, singing out, "Life begins when you're in Mexico!"
But Elvis actually filmed his scenes for the 1963 movie on a Hollywood lot and at a California hotel; the boy was Los Angeles child actor Larry Domasin. And despite singing a song
in Spanish, Presley was not exactly “El Rey” in Mexico at the time, as far as officials were concerned. After a newspaper columnist revealed in the late '50s that he had called Mexico
“a distasteful country” and made ugly remarks about Mexican women during an interview, anti-Elvis protestors rose up, and his albums were reportedly burned by protestors. But
Elvis' rebellious image also fueled rowdy youth, who caused a “riot” at the premiere of King Creole. And his music was a spark that ignited Mexican rock.
As documented in the 1999 book 'Refried Elvis: The Rise of the Mexican Counterculture' and other sources, it eventually came out that Presley did not make the racist statements
-- he was set up by the media after he slighted a Mexican politician by refusing to give a private concert for his teenage daughter and her friends.
In later years, Presley apparently took pains to set the record straight about the Mexican controversy. After Elvis' death BMG Mexico went further, issuing a series of Elvis Le Canta
a Mexico (“Elvis Sings to Mexico”) albums to celebrate the legend’s legacy south of the border. The liner notes went so far to refer to him as “The King of Ranchera Music.”
Nowadays Elvis is more likely to be remembered for his versions of “Bossa Nova Baby” and other Mexican flavoured songs than for
the historic controversy. Fun in Acapulco was the No. 1 musical movie in the United States the year it was released. In addition to songs with mariachi, its Latin-tinged soundtrack, in
keeping with the Hollywood cultural myopia of the time, also features strains of samba and rumba; Elvis even manages to incarnate both bullfighter and bull while singing "El Toro."