ABOUT ELVIS PRESLEY
Elvis Aaron Presley was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King".
In 1953, he went to Sun recording studio – to record a song for his mother, but also with the hope he may get noticed and offered a recording deal. However, it didn’t come to anything; he was also turned down for auditions to other groups. In April 1954, he took a job as a truck driver.
For his first studio recording, Elvis performed the 1946 blues number, Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right”; it was well received on local radio stations. This initial success launched Presley into a lucrative pop music career.
His performances were a fusion of country, gospel, pop and rhythm and blues. His unique gravelly voice gave the impression Presley combined both ‘black’ and ‘white’ sounds, something which was an issue during an era of tense civil rights campaigns. Elvis’s on stage routines were also criticised for their flamboyance and provocativeness; he was criticised for the idea that rock ‘n ‘roll music was having a negative effect on American teenagers, making them more rebellious. As the leading figure of pop music, Presley was often the target of these criticisms.
However, if Presley was considered a controversial and a rebellious figure, it just made him more popular with young listeners. His catapult to stardom was helped by a rivalry between TV presenters, such as Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan. Elvis proved a star attraction on tv talk shows, and the competition between presenters helped to make Elvis a national celebrity. It also helped bring rock ‘n’ roll into the mainstream. , of the Beatles, described the effect that Elvis had on his musical development.
At live concerts, his crowds increasingly became overly exuberant. When Presley began playing hits like “You ain’t nothin’ but a Hound Dog” the crowd would go wild. This led Presley to take a break from live performances.
In 1958-60, Presley was called up for national service in the American army. He was stationed in Germany and served in the regular army, and was keen to be seen as an ordinary soldier doing his duty. He could have signed up for Special Services, which would have enabled him to perform live music, but he preferred to stay in the regular army. During his stay in Freiburg, Germany he met Priscilla Beaulieu, who he would marry after a seven-year courtship. They married in 1967 and, in 1968, Priscilla gave birth to Elvis’s only child – Lisa Marie.
After the stint in the army, he began to focus more on movies. Presley made several movies in the 1960s. These were generally received with low critical acclaim, though they were quite popular and commercially successful. By the end of the 1960s, Presley’s career was in decline. He had become known for formulaic films and uninspiring soundtracks. He was increasingly unhappy with the direction of his career. In 1967, Presley made a comeback as a singer, but his first eight singles were mostly flops and failed to make an impression on the pop charts. The exception was the 1969 single “If I Can Dream”, which helped to reinvigorate Presley’s musical creativity. In 1970, he released “The Wonder of You” which topped the charts in the UK and US. He also began a new music tour, which sold out to record-breaking crowds.
His early death only cemented his legendary status, and Elvis Presley has become deeply ingrained in popular culture.
Presley’s home Graceland was opened to the public in the 1980s and attracts over half a million visitors annually. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2006.
Clancy's comment: Elvis has left the building.