Often referred to as the “King of Rock and Roll” or simply “the King”, Elvis Presley was born 8th January, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. At the age of 13 Presley moved to Memphis, Tennessee, with his family and began his career there in 1954, working with Sun Records owner Sam Phillips, who wanted to bring the sound of African American music to a wider audience. Accompanied by guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, Presley was one of the originators of rockabilly, an uptempo, backbeat-driven fusion of country and rhythm and blues. Presley’s rise to national attention in 1956 transformed the field of popular music and had a huge effect on the broader scope of popular culture.
Presley’s first RCA single, “Heartbreak Hotel“, was released in January 1956, and was a number one hit. He became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll with a series of network television appearances and chart-topping records. His energized interpretations of songs, many from African American sources, and his uninhibited performance style made him enormously popular—and controversial. In November 1956, he made his film debut in Love Me Tender. He was Conscripted into military service in 1958, and relaunched his recording career two years later with some of his most commercially successful work. He staged few concerts however, and guided by Colonel Tom Parker, he proceeded to devote much of the 1960s to making Hollywood movies and soundtrack albums, most of them critically derided. In 1968, after seven years away from the stage, he returned to live performance in a celebrated comeback television special that led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of profitable tours. In 1973 Presley staged the first concert broadcast globally via satellite, Aloha from Hawaii, seen by approximately 1.5 billion viewers.
Presley is regarded as one of the most important figures of 20th-century popular culture. He had a versatile voice and unusually wide success encompassing many genres, including country, pop ballads, gospel, and blues. He is the best-selling solo artist in the history of popular music. Nominated for 14 competitive Grammys, he won three, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36. He has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame, and is regarded As the catalyst for the cultural revolution that was rock and roll, he was central not only to defining it as a musical genre but in making it a touchstone of youth culture and rebellious attitude. His name, image, and voice are instantly recognizable around the globe, and in In polls and surveys, he is recognized as one of the most important popular music artists and influential Americans.
“Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century”, said composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. “He introduced the beat to everything and he changed everything—music, language, clothes. It’s a whole new social revolution—the sixties came from it.” Bob Dylan described the sensation of first hearing Presley as “like busting out of jail”. A New York Times editorial on the 25th anniversary of Presley’s death observed, “All the talentless impersonators and appalling black velvet paintings on display can make him seem little more than a perverse and distant memory. But before Elvis was camp, he was its opposite: a genuine cultural force. … Elvis’s breakthroughs are underappreciated because in this rock-and-roll age, his hard-rocking music and sultry style have triumphed so completely.” Not only Presley’s achievements, but his failings as well, are seen by some cultural observers as adding to the power of his legacy.
Sadly Prescription drug abuse severely compromised his health, and this together with poor diet led to his sudden death in August 1977 at the age of 42. Despite this Elvis Presley remains a supreme figure in American life, one whose presence, no matter how banal or predictable, brooks no real comparisons, The cultural range of his music has expanded to the point where it includes not only the hits of the day, but also patriotic recitals, pure country gospel, and really dirty blues. Elvis emerged as a great artist, a great rocker, a great purveyor of schlock, a great heart throb, a great bore, a great symbol of potency, a great ham, a great nice person, and a great American.