Simply put, Elvis Presley was the first real rock & roll star. A white Southerner singing blues laced with country, and country laced with gospel, he brought together American music from both sides of the color line and performed it with a natural hip-swiveling sexuality that made him a teen idol and a role model for generations of cool rebels. He was repeatedly dismissed as vulgar, incompetent, and a bad influence, but the force of his music and his image was no mere merchandising feat. Presley signaled to mainstream culture that it was time to let go. Four decades after his death, Presley’s image and influence remain undiminished. While certainly other artists preceded him and he by no means “invented” rock & roll, he is indisputably its king.
Hardly Strictly Jazz
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