Bing Crosby began his career in 1925 as a singer in a vocal trio called The Three Harmony Aces. Over the 50 years that followed, Bing made more than 30 movies and released a staggering 106 albums. To say he knew a thing or two about music and performance is an understatement. So then, when he saw Elvis Presley coming up through the ranks in the music industry, he was optimistic – at first.
Bing was asked about the young up-and-coming musician coming out of Tennessee in 1957 during an interview, and he loved how the 22-year-old sounded. Bing said: “He’s going to be a very big star in a lot of fields, other than the one in rock and roll. He’s got an appealing personality. He’s a good-looking kid. He sings in tune and he’s got good rhythm.”
With that said, he did note that Elvis needed some refining in his choice of songs. He added: “He just hasn’t developed enough voice yet to handle a ballad, but that will come.”
Referencing his rock and roll genre, Bing said: “If he keeps yelling and screaming he’ll develop enough strength … He’s got a Peck’s bad boy look in him—a sly smile. Women like that.”
But things changed as Elvis became more famous.
Decades later, in 1975, Bing was asked once again about Elvis and his contribution to music. At this point, Elvis had become the King of Rock and Roll and was easily one of the most famous musicians of all time. By the mid-1970s, the star had appeared in more than 50 movies and had even released 23 albums of his own, on top of 29 EPs, almost 20 soundtracks and a dozen compilation albums.
But Bing still was not convinced by the star.
Elvis died on August 16, 1977 of a cardiac arrest in his home, Graceland, aged 42.
After learning of the King’s death, Bing said: “Oh, I’m shocked; it’s a sad thing to hear. A young man like Presley, just a young fella, so vibrant, so influential all through the years of American popular music, and now you tell me he’s gone. It’s hard to believe. It’ll be a great loss.”
Just two months later, Bing also died.
Bing died on October 14, 1977. He suffered a massive heart attack at the entrance of a golf clubhouse after playing eighteen holes in Spain. He was 74-years-old.
The star beat his golfing partner, World Cup champion Manuel Piñero, by one stroke. After winning, he told his entourage: “That was a great game of golf, fellas. Let’s go have a Coca-Cola.” These were his final words.