30 November 2014
Critical Analysis: Elvis Presley
“Before Elvis there was nothing” (Lennon). Before the 1950s, American music was conservative and based on family values. Most music was segregated by its ethnic groups, white and black. Like Lennon quoted, white music was nothing; it was boring and not distinctive until the King of Rock and Roll hit the charts. Elvis Presley brought a new style and beat, as well as a distinctive cultural, moral and social perspective that was like an awakening. He is credited for creating and revolutionizing the upbeat fusion of styles we hear today. Presley was one of the biggest icons of the 1950s. Selling over 1 billion records worldwide, Elvis’s music began to transform and revolutionize the music industry into what it is today. Elvis created a new sound that melted blues, country, and black gospel music together. This new sound sparked a unity of black and white people.
He also introduced the music industry to his unique style of music and hip gyrating bad boy image. Elvis was a parent’s worst nightmare and a teenager’s dream. Parents thought his music and moves were from the devil while girls wanted to be with him and boys wanted to be like him. This rising popularity with teens made his suggestive music more acceptable amongst the world. Furthermore, future rockers such as the Beatles and Bob Dylan were greatly influenced by the King of Rock and Roll. Elvis Presley not only completely revolutionized the music industry but also challenged cultural, moral and social values as well, creating a new and different generation.
Although the King, Elvis Presley, was not the creator of rock and roll, he influenced and inspired music forever. As a young boy, Elvis, born in Tupelo, Mississippi, sang to his parents and at the local First Assembly of God Church. When visited the Memphis recording studio owned by Sun Records just to record a couple songs for his mother’s birthday present, he didn’t realize that only a year later he would turn in to a worldwide rocker. On July 5th 1954, Elvis was invited back to the studio to record a few songs including a rendition of bluesman Arthur Crudup’s “That’s Alright Mama.” The rendition of this song amazed the owner of Sun Records, Sam Phillips and marked a new era in music.
Growing up on Beale Street, a popular place filled with music joints, Elvis was inspired by the black blues and jazz singers such as Flurry Lewis and BB King. These inspirations brought a new tone that no one had ever heard before. It was a mixture of country, blues, and black jazz and gospel music that combined created an original sound. Soon after his version of “That’s Alright Mama” became a local success he signed with RCA records and recorded his first hit, “Heartbreak Hotel,” which quickly rose to number one. Elvis rapidly became a worldwide sensation, and provided the new generation with a fresh, unique sound that would soon be known as the rock and roll we know today.
This original rock and roll sound that Elvis created became the catalyst for change. Before Elvis was introduced to the world, the South was segregated and prejudiced; whites and blacks each had their own separate culture. But Elvis, whose music was greatly influenced by the African American sound, began to change this cultural perspective. As Elvis became increasingly popular, American culture began to evolve. White audiences started to listen to sounds of black music. His mix of country and blues with black jazz and gospel allowed American culture to finally accepted the black culture. Without Elvis’ success many African Americans, such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard may have never became widely popular. Little Richard even agreed that “He was an integrator, Elvis was a blessing. They wouldn't let black music through. He opened the door for black music” (Richard). For the first time, blacks were able to make a living and share in the wealth of the music industry. This new