There aren’t that many people in the world that haven’t hear anything about Elvis Presley, the king of rock n’ roll, and there are a few reasons as to why he became such an important figure in music history, more specifically rock.
Context in America
First of all it’s important to have in mind the context at the time, which was around the 1950s, this was a time when rock n’ roll was barely starting to show up, however it was mostly a genre that came from black musicians. There was something about the blues and jazz that black musicians managed to make it so pure and ful of feeling, and due to the time they did not get enough recognition, but it was still too good to not be noticed.
Artists such as Little Richard, Joe Turner, Ike Turner, Ray Charles and Chuck Berry, were already making rock n’ roll, with the last one having the title of king befor Elvis, still they were marginalised and this type of music wouldn’t get to the mainstream.
A rock fan would say that mainstream music was boring and that the real new music was in the hands of those that were not being recognized, and at that time in a way Elvis felt this.
Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi and his first real contact with music was through the church in the form of Gospel where he found a strong connection due to his faith and religious life with his family. It’s funny to think that the “King” had such a humble beginning.
His love for music never stopped from that moment, and it wasn’t long until he got his first guitar at the age of 11. This led him to pursue his biggest and only dream, music.
In a way Elvis became the last step in a musical revolution, the rock n’ roll revolution, in the words of John Lennon “Before Elvis, there was nothing.”
He was able to ignite a spark moving gracefully between several genres of music including blues, country, rockabilly and RnB, which translated into the best form of Rock n’ Roll. Of course Elvis had a golden touch, a magic surrounding him which made all of this possible, and some would say that him being white helped, and yes it was one of the many things he had on his favour, but Elvis was so much more. He was a strange character and at times critiziced because of his “blackness”, others revered, but in the end what mattered the most was the music itself and how he embodied the feeling of the music he performed.
In a way he carried the flag of everything that was being sidelined and ignored, why was feeling and attitude and everything that later made the bases of rock n’ roll.
In an interview back in 1957, at the Pan Pacific Auditorium some of that Elvis personality can be seen through his answers.
Say, why did you change ‘Blue Moon’ all around?
Honey, when I recorded ‘Blue Moon’, I didn’t know the words to it. When I got to the bridge, I just started yelling.
How do you feel when the girls scream for you?
Well, I figure it doesn’t last, so I might as well enjoy it while I can.
Are you nervous at this moment?
I’m a little shaky. I go on stage and then I relax after I start singin’.
Do you ever forget your lyrics?
Sometimes, but no one knows it. They can t tell what I in singin’. anyway. I never rehearse; the band travels with me and knows all my numbers. Of course, I have to rehearse for TV shows and for movies.
Elvis, do you read music?
No. And I can’t play the guitar, either.
What do you do with it if you don’t play it?
Elvis (laughing) I use it as a brace.
Well, your name is listed on the credits of several hit tunes as the author.
How do you write music if you don’t read it?
It’s all a big hoax, honey. I never wrote a song in my life. I get one-third of the credit for recording it. It makes me look smarter than I am. I’ve never even had an idea for a song. Just once, maybe.
I went to bed one night, had quite a dream, and woke up all shook up. I phoned a pal and told him about it. By morning, he had a new song, ‘All Shook Up’.
For more on this interview go to: https://www.elvis.com.au/presley/interview-with-elvis-presley-october-28-1957.shtml