When you hear the name Elvis Presley, the image of a rock god dripping with sex appeal immediately comes to mind. Considered today to be one of the most important musicians of all time and one of the most influential people of the 20th century, “the King” gifted the world with hits such as “Jailhouse Rock,” “All Shook Up,” and “Love Me Tender”.
It was on this day 59 years ago that Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” skyrocketed to the top of the charts in the United Kingdom, cementing his status as a worldwide rock ‘n’ roll superstar, one of the first of his kind.
Because of his status as a world-renowned rock star, he changed the language of music into something that was upbeat and full of uncensored fun, a dramatic change from the stuffy, big band sound of the early 20th century, and caused a cultural revolution all around the world.
It's not just his music that changed the world; he also introduced the American public, especially teenagers, to a dance style that wasn’t seen in the mainstream before. His signature leg shake and seductive body movements permeated every form of media back in the 1950s. It’s commonplace today for a popular singer to be known all around the world, but in 1958, Elvis Presley was nothing short of an enigma. From newspapers to radio to television, no one could ignore the King.
His music invoked a slow change in mindset when it came to racial politics, given that his sound was heavily influenced by African American music style at the time. Presley’s music allowed unprecedented access to a culture that, up to that point, was relatively unknown to the general public, despite hits from heavy hitters such as Nat King Cole and Chuck Berry. He challenged the segregationist stereotypes of the time, one of the first famous white artists to do so.
He paved the way for every musician to come and created a cultural movement rooted in the younger generation, setting the stage for the counterculture movement to rise.
Without Elvis, there would be no Beatles, no Rolling Stones, nothing of what we know as music today. He may not have invented rock ‘n’ roll, but the music style he did create was something truly amazing.