‘The King’ lives on

Friday, July 9, 2010

The "King of Rock and Roll" had humble roots in the American South, but from them went on to embody the American Dream, becoming nothing less than the most popular entertainer the world has ever seen. Here’s a glance at the King's life, career, music, and legacy.

It’s been 75 years since the ‘King of Rock and Roll’, Elvis Presley was born. Elvis, remains to this very day, one of the most important figures of twentieth century popular culture. Legions of fans around the world are reminded of the melodious rhythms of his legendary music, his personal style that unselfconsciously broke down barriers and the unforgettable velvet sounds of his voice that will always be etched in our minds for decades to come.

His Life.

Elvis Aaron Presley, in the humblest of circumstances, was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn, leaving Elvis to grow up as an only child. Living just above the poverty line, he and his parents soon moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1948, and Elvis graduated from Humes High School there in 1953. Elvis began his career there in 1954 when Sun Records owner Sam Phillips, eager to bring the sound of African American music to a wider audience, saw in Presley the means to realize his ambition. From here on he went on to embody the American Dream, becoming nothing less than the most popular entertainer the world has ever seen.

Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu in 1967 after 7 years of courtship. They had one child, Lisa Marie Presley, born in 1968. They separated in 1972, Priscilla retaining the custody of Lisa Marie.

His Music.

Though not the first or only American to mix various musical styles into one singularity that would come to be called "rock and roll," Elvis Presley may have had greater command of more styles of popular music than any other musician of his day -- white or black taking the world by storm. Presley performed this music with a natural hip swiveling sexuality that made him a teen idol and a role model for generations of cool rebels.

Nominated for 14 competitive Grammys, he won three, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36. He has been inducted into four music halls of fame. Some of Elvis's greatest hits were 'I Want You, I need You, I Love You', 'Heartbreak Hotel', 'Hound Dog', ' Jail House Rock', 'All Shook Up' and many, many more. Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist.

Elvis in Hollywood.

With 33 films to his name and box office smashes such as Love Me Tender, Jailhouse Rock, Elvis transitioned from singer to on screen star and how he took Hollywood by storm to become its highest paid actor.

Farewell Elvis.

His last song. Elvis performed in private was a rendition of "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain," done on his piano in Graceland hours before his death. Similarly, Presley's last performances, both public and private, don't reveal much in the way of understanding his demise, if he was planning on slipping away into obscurity or simply realizing his mortality, it didn't show in the music. Then again, the very circumstances make his song selection seem sadder than usual.

His last recording. Elvis made a vocal overdub of "He'll Have To Go" on October 31st, 1976 in the "Jungle Room" at his home at Graceland.

His last words. Elvis always kept his mind on the future, even as he was physically and emotionally falling apart towards the end of his life. His last words to anyone outside of Graceland were to his first cousin and assistant, Billy Smith: "Billy, son," he said, referring to his upcoming series of concerts, "this is gonna be my best tour ever."

His Legacy.

Even though Elvis Presley died from a heart attack in 1977, he lives on through his legacy of music, movies and the never-ending impersonators which has become an integral part of American culture today. They can be found in Vegas, on Hollywood or in shows or attractions across the country.

Over thirty years have passed since his death was reported, and yet Elvis is just as popular today, if not more so, as he was during his career. Look up the legend on the internet and you will be amazed to know what great lengths, family, friends and fans have gone to pay tribute to his name. An umpteen number of results on how to dress like Elvis, dance like Elvis, play like Elvis to lists that entail on how to bake an Elvis Presley pound cake, prepare an Elvis mixed drink, celebrate birthdays and how to take an Elvis Presley tribute vacation only prove that he will always be 'The King' in the eyes of his countless admirers.

Photocredit: gossiboocrew.com

This article was published in Khaleej Times Newspaper on July 4th 2010, as a feature celebrating the anniversary of America's Independence Day.


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