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January 21, 2023

Ted Gioia: Fake artists are as old as music itself

"Las Vegas wedding chapels recently received an unusual letter. It contained a cease-and-desist order—demanding that they stop using Elvis Presley impersonators to conduct marriages... I won’t get involved in the legal niceties here, but I seriously doubt any law firm is powerful enough to stop Elvis impersonation. Fake artists are as old as music itself" - Ted Gioia writes in his latest memo. Greece and Egypt are the earliest examples, with the blues being the fresher one. "You might even say that this practice is what made the blues a genuine tradition—artists preferred to take something pre-existing, and maybe change a few tiny details, rather than invent a new song from scratch. And we can’t really complain, because this is what allows oral traditions to last over the generations. Many of these blues songs would have disappeared if somebody hadn’t stolen them".