What can you say about Elvis, the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”? He was certainly a talented man on stage, in front of a camera, or with a guitar. Elvis became one of the most successful recording artists in history and a timeless icon of “cool”. He had such great hits: Love me Tender, Jailhouse Rock, Don’t Be Cruel, Can’t Help Falling in Love, All Shook Up, Hound Dog, In the Ghetto, Blue Suede Shoes, Suspicious Minds, and this author’s favorite, Burning Love. Elvis was one of the most influential people in my music career. His timeless songs and hooks stand the test of time, even today.
Elvis wrote lyrics from the heart. He was just two years into his marriage with Priscilla when he recorded Suspicious Minds. The marriage was falling apart. He poured his disappointment, particularly over his own failings as a husband, into the song.
Artists can have a hit song on their own, but a great songwriter can make all the difference in an artist’s career. The Elvis hit, Burning Love (1972), was actually written by Dennis Linde. Originally recorded by country soul artist, Arthur Alexander, as part of his 1972 self-titled album, Presley’s version became his biggest hit single in the United States since Suspicious Minds (1969) and his last Top 10 hit in the American Hot 100 or pop charts.
Elvis Aaron Presley was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn leaving Elvis to grow up as an only child. In 1948 the Presley family moved to Memphis, Tennessee where Elvis graduated from Humes High School in 1953.
In 1954, Elvis began his singing career with the legendary Sun Records label in Memphis. His musical influences were from the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music he heard in church, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager. In late 1955, his recording contract was sold to RCA Victor where he continued to create and entertain until his death.
He made history with television appearances and specials. He knew great acclaim through his many, often record-breaking, live concert performances while on tour and in Las Vegas. Globally, he has sold over one billion records. Of his 14 Grammy nominations, he won 3 and was awarded the Grammy for Lifetime Achievement at the age of 36.
In addition to being a music star, he was also a star on the silver screen. He starred in 33 movies from 1956 to 1972 with timeless hits like Loving You (1957), Viva Las Vegas (1964), Blue Hawaii (1961), King Creole (1958), Jail House Rock (1957), Wild in the Country (1961), and Love Me Tender (1956).
Elvis made the mold for what modern artists are expected to be. Movies, TV, and Music are all part of that mold. But Elvis was the first to be a complete artist and do it successfully. He was the prototype for everything today’s artists need to be. I think he was more than just the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Elvis remains simply “The King” representing everything in the realm of entertainment. Elvis died at his Memphis home, Graceland, on August 16, 1977. He was 42. He may be gone, but long live “The King.”