Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley

The King

World culture has never been the same since Elvis Presley left his mark on American music. His is the image most often associated with the rock and roll movement of the 50's and 60's. He is such an important figure that he is often referred to as "The King of Rock and Roll", or simply "The King".

Like so many other legendary musicians, Elvis Presley was born poor.

His entry into the music business began in 1953 when he payed Sun Studios to let him record a demo— intended, according to legend, as a gift for his mother. The recording reached the ears of Sun's founder, Sam Phillips, who immediately recognized Presley's potential.

Elvis recorded five singles at Sun, and before long he had become the teen idol of the century, playing concerts for rioting hordes of screaming teenage girls. He drew his inspiration from a wide palette of musical colors, incorporating country, pop, gospel, bluegrass, and even a little opera into his music. Elvis was known for his explosive stage presence and his controversially suggestive hip movements. As his fame continued to grow, he toured internationally and appeared countless times on television and in films. By the late 50's he was known in nearly every corner of the world.

There are probably more rumors and legends surrounding Elvis than any other entertainer. These rumors run the gamut from the plausible to the ridiculous. Even today there are frequent reports of Elvis sightings, more than 25 years after his death. Unfortunately, Elvis' status as a rock icon often obscures his prominence as an artist. He was the most popular musician ever, with 38 top ten hits to his name — a number that remains unchallenged to this day. From 1956 to 1959, there was not one week when an Elvis song was not on the charts. The popularity and larger-than-life status reached by Elvis even before his early death have made him one of the most iconic individuals in the history of recorded music.

  • In 1958, Elvis was drafted for a two year tour with the US military. He was stationed in Germany until he was honorably discharged in 1960. Many Elvis historians have speculated that there was an ulterior motive for this peacetime draft, one theory being that it was a conservative political move to protect the country from the corrupting influence of his music.

  • Elvis Presley appeared three times on the famous Ed Sullivan Show. Moralists pressured Sullivan to keep Elvis's suggestive hip movements from being filmed, so Sullivan ordered Elvis to be filmed from the waist up only.

  • A recent biography, "Elvis: The Hollywood Years", maintains that Elvis was homosexual. It claims that his manager used his knowledge of Elvis' affair with actor Nick Adams as blackmail, to keep Elvis under his control. While several relatives and biographers of Presley have made this claim, its accuracy is unverifiable.

  • Some black historians criticize Elvis Presley for stealing and appropriating African-American music and dance and calling it his own. Helen Kolaoke was quoted as saying that "for black people, Elvis, more than any other performer, epitomizes the theft of their music and dance."

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