Singer Elvis Presley is hailed as one of the most legendary icons of Rock & Roll, remaining a household name for years after his death.
Elvis Presley is famous for being “The King of Rock & Roll”. He was known for his innovation in music and his powerful voice. This, combined with his unique style, physically attractive appearance and sexually charged image, sparked equal outrage and admiration amongst the public during the 20th century.
Find out more about the reasons behind Elvis’ fame below.
His Undeniable Talent
Elvis’ debut single That’s All Right in 1954 was a rendition of Arthur Crudup’s song That’s All Right Mama.
The singer was partaking in a casual recording session at The Sun Studio, and spontaneously picked up his guitar, putting his own spin on the song.
His unique, captivating take on the Blues tune excited producers, and upon his release of the song he garnered significant attention.
He went on to perform various gigs locally, becoming a regional name before he was picked up by the large record company RCA Victor.
Following this, he released his haunting song Heartbreak Hotel, and took over the U.S charts by debuting at number 1.
This was an incredible feat, and the song went on to become a double platinum, staying at the top of the charts for several weeks.
He starred in the movie Love Me Tender, and went on to play roles in several Hollywood movies.
One reason why Elvis’ success was so well-received was because he manifested what appeared to be the ‘American Dream’.
The singer had a rough childhood growing up, and lived in poverty. Being born into a working-class family meant he had to work various jobs while pursuing his dream.
However, he was devoted to his faith in God and his parents, ultimately becoming one of the most famous figures in history.
He broke several exceptional records, including the most number-1 albums and singles on the UK charts, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018 after his death.
Elvis was known for crossing racial boundaries in music at a time when racial tension was high in America.
When his sound first aired on the radio, many listeners assumed he was African-American.
Presley consistently credited and expressed his admiration for the African-American community, and was known for disregarding racial barriers, both in music and in society.
Thus, early in his career, he was largely acclaimed by the African-American community for his take on Blues that was dominated by African-American musicians at the time.
Speaking of his admiration for the community in rock-and-roll, Elvis said, “Nobody can sing that kind of music like colored people. Let’s face it: I can’t sing like Fats Domino can. I know that.”
Sexually Provocative Image
Elvis was also seen as something of a sex symbol. He was considered to be a physically attractive man, and utilized this in his performance.
He was reported to have captivating charisma, and his performances were often erotic and sexually fuelled, both shocking and attracting audiences.
He was described by critic George Melly as “the master of the sexual simile, treating his guitar as both phallus and girl”.
Regardless of whether he was liked by the general public, there is no doubt that Elvis Presley left behind a trail of achievements that was unmatched.
His legacy makes him a symbol of youth and rebellion in rock-and-roll decades after his passing.