On January 8, 1935, the world’s King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley was born in East Tupelo, Mississippi. More than being a music icon, he was among the most influential people in history.
In 1948, the Presleys relocated to Memphis, Tennesse where Elvis grew and graduated high school. Throughout his youth, Elvis loved music. He saturated himself in the rich variety of music in that era from gospel to country and even pop and R&B.
In 1954, he was given a recording contract in Memphis under Sun Records but soon moved to RCA Victor in 1955. His singing career skyrocketed so fast that by 1956, Elvis had become a national superstar.
Not one to be boxed in one type of music, Elvis managed to successfully fuse his early musical influences, thus, smoothing the path for other musicians who also did not believe that there’s only one way to do music. Added to this triumph, Elvis did not limit himself in representing only one specific race or social group or culture. Thus, his impact was the removing of the long cultural divide between black and white music.
Possessing a Voice, Face, and Bod to Die For
Elvis Presley’s global fame reached as far the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He has become a household name and a principal figure defining the American culture. More than his unequivocal musical talent, good looks, and charisma, millions looked up to him for his good sense of humor, and the humility and kindness he has demonstrated around those he has worked and talked with.
Generally, Elvis’s voice was described as either ‘”deep baritone” or “soulful.” Music experts, however, have more to say. In fact, Elvis Australia, a committed fan club for the late king, published an analysis on Elvis’ voice. They claim that throughout Elvis’ singing career, his vocal range would have manifested around 50 voices. From all their gathered samples, they’ve classified Elvis’ 50 Voices into four categories.
As per the analysis, Elvis’ lowest note of was heard on ‘He’ll Have To Go’ (1976) and “Blue Moon” (1954) and his low to middle on Blue Suede Shoes (1956) and Jailhouse Rock (1957). As for middle to high, check “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” (1960), “In The Ghetto” (1969), An American Trilogy (1972), Suspicious Minds (1969), and I Believe In The Man In The Sky (1960). Finally, his highest was marked on his timeless rendition of How Great Thou Art (1976).
King of Rock & Roll
Now simply referred to as the king, Elvis Presley earned his title as King of Rock and Roll not due to his rhinestone-studded jumpsuits, but for his genius as a performer both on and off stage. On stage, the king naturally followed his gut-instincts for his groovy moves. As a singer, he had it all – quality, fullness, and range. Reportedly, Elvis was said to sound just as good and sometimes, better when off-record.
On Billboard, he has the most charted songs since his beginning and none has yet dethroned him. The most respected significant figures of all time also laud the king with praises like John Lennon, Jackie Wilson, Bod Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Eddie Murphy.
Given his high profile and celebrated status, the king was not spared from criticisms and controversies. Racists branded Elvis’ music as “nigger music,” some religious preachers blasted his rock and roll as promoting heathenism and called it “devil music.” As for the conservative parents, they saw Elvis’ “gyrating figure” on stage as a threat that will corrupt their children’s minds. But all these only contributed to Elvis’s fame and his image seeped deeper into people’s consciousness.
A King Never Forgets His Country Roots
Even with his unparalleled successes in Rockabilly and R&B, the king would later be heard doing more Country and Gospel records in his later years. In fact, he spent his early years touring and performing with Country music stars including Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, Slim Whitman, and Faron Young. Though already a star in his own right, the king was also an equal admirer of singers from his Country family including Ray Price, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Ronnie Milsap, Buck Owens, and Merle Haggard.
Among the king’s songs that were Country hits, “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” (1955) and “Heartbreak Hotel” would always be remembered. His most memorable gospel songs were His Hand In Mine, Working On The Building, In My Father’s House, Take My Hand, Precious Lord, Swing Down Sweet Chariot, Amazing Grace, Crying in the Chapel and Where No One Stands Alone.
In recognition of his contributions in making Country music known to a wider audience, the king was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998.
The King’s Glory Years
To date, no artist has yet to surpass the king‘s musical accomplishments. His record sales from his 150 albums and singles combined were more than a billion with gold, platinum or multi-platinum certifications. Added to the king‘s numerous awards and accolades as an entertainer, he was also celebrated for his patriotic and charity works.
Though already a celebrity in the ’50s, the king honorably served his country for two years. He joined the U.S Army, became a sergeant, and after rendering his services, was awarded a Good Conduct Medal. Though still at the tender age of 36, the king received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was named by the United States Jaycees as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation.
At age 42, Elvis Aaron Presley, who has remarkably rocked the world with his presence, finally rested from all his works on August 16, 1977. His body was laid in his home, Graceland, Memphis.