Elvis Presley — An American Phenomenon article page
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Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935 √ August 16, 1977), also known as "The King of Rock 'n' Roll" was an American singer, music producer and actor.
He is a giant in the modern entertainment industry. The home where he lived for 21 years, and where he died, the "Graceland Mansion", became a National Historic Landmark on 27 March, 2006.
Elvis remains a popular and enigmatic star and his legend has only grown stronger since his premature death at age 42.
During an active recording career that spanned more than two decades, Presley broke and set many records for both concert attendance and sales.
Some of those records have since been tied or broken by other artists, but others will probably remain unmatched for many years, if not indefinitely.
He has had more than 120 singles in the US top 40, across various musical genres, with over 20 reaching number one. Elvis' ongoing worldwide popularity has culminated in his global sales reaching an estimated one billion records to datehttp://www.elvis.com/elvisology/elvis_overview.asp
According to Rolling Stone magazine "It was Elvis who made rock 'n' roll the international language of pop." A PBS documentary once described Presley as "an American music giant of the 20th century who singlehandedly changed the course of music and culture in the mid-1950s."
His recordings, dance moves, attitude and clothing came to be seen as embodiments of rock and roll. His music was heavily influenced by African-Americans who could not gain national attention because of their race.
Presley sang both hard driving rockabilly and rock and roll dance songs and ballads, laying a commercial foundation upon which other rock and roll musicians would build.
African-American performers like Little Richard and Chuck Berry came to national prominence after Presley's acceptance among mass audiences of white teenagers, even though his music was strongly influenced by some of those same African-American musicians.
Singers like Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and others immediately followed in his wake, leading John Lennon to observe later, "Before Elvis, there was nothing."
Teenagers came to Presley's concerts in unprecedented numbers. When he performed at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair in 1956 a hundred National Guardsmen surrounded the stage to control crowds of excited fans.
American children see standing before them this stunning guy who is over six foot tall, his hair greasy and long, with blue eyes and a curling, self-mocking lip. He comes on stage in a casual and relaxed manner, as if he’s always had the spotlight, owning the stage.
Elvis stands in the spotlight and gives them what they want, enjoying every bit of the hysteria surrounding him. As he starts to sing he will start off slow and easy, sways his body, shakes a leg, rolls his groin, with an innocent but sexy come-on, and then quickens all movement with his guitar. His guitar will soon become a symbol, no more than just a prop.
When municipal politicians began denying permits for Presley appearances teens piled into cars and traveled elsewhere to see him perform. It seemed as if the more adults tried to stop it, the more teenagers across North America insisted on having what they wanted.
When adult programmers announced they would not play Presley's music on their radio stations (some because God told them it was sexually suggestive Devil music, others saying it was Southern "nigger" music) the economic power of that generation became evident when they tuned in any radio station playing Elvis records.
In an industry already shifting to all-music formats in reaction to television, profit-conscious radio station owners learned hard lessons when sponsors bought advertising time on new rock and roll stations reaching enormous markets at night with clear channel signals from AM broadcasts.
During the 1950s post-WWII economic boom in the United States, many parents were able to give their teenaged children much higher weekly allowances, signalling a shift in the buying power and purchasing habits of teens.
During the 1940s bobby soxers had idolized Frank Sinatra but the buyers of his records were mostly between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two. Presley triggered a juggernaut of demand for his records by near-teens and early teens aged ten and up.
Presley's overwhelming appeal was to girls. Many boys adopted his look to attract them. Along with Elvis' ducktail haircut, the demand for black slacks and loose, open-necked shirts resulted in new lines of clothing for teenaged boys.
1956, 25 September, Elvis returns to his home town Tupelo to perform in the Mississippi-Alabama fair, where he first performed at the age of 10 years of age and sang "Old Shep."
He starts his performance off with a little sly but wicked charm. As he leans towards the mike with his lop-sided grin, his slicked back hair style and sideburns looking out into his crowd with deep passion in his eyes, setting his audience on alive.
Then, just to tease, he starts with a ballad, holding the mike so close he is almost kissing it, lowering his long eye-lashes modestly, and luring his audience with every move. The crowd is mesmerized by his stunning grace; he had them right in the palm of his hands.
The guitar, in his early performances become no more than a musical instrument to strum, toy with, an accessory, but it was just more like a symbol that was part of his early stage days.
In 1956 America, birthday and Christmas gifts were often music or even Elvis related. A girl might get a pink portable 45 rpm record player for her bedroom.
Meanwhile American teenagers began buying newly available portable transistor radios and listened to rock 'n' roll on them (helping to propel that fledgling industry from an estimated 100,000 units sold in 1955 to 5,000,000 units by the end of 1958).
Teens were asserting more independence and Elvis Presley became a national symbol of their parents' consternation.
Presley's impact on the American youth consumer market was noted on the front page of The Wall Street Journal on December 31, 1956 when future Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Louis M. Kohlmeier wrote, "Elvis Presley today is a business," and reported on the singer's record and merchandise sales (this may have been the first time a journalist described an entertainer as a business).
Half a century later, historian Ian Brailsford (University of Auckland, New Zealand) commented, "The phenomenal success of Elvis Presley in 1956 convinced many doubters of the financial opportunities existing in the youth market."
Comments from his fans in their survey replies to me, about the special qualities of his voice, and how after hearing his voice for the first time they were totally hooked.The powerful effect of just his voice alone is world wide, apart from his incredible good looks.
QUOTES FROM HIS FAN, From our survey about what first got them hooked on Elvis.
His wonderful voice, His image that was fantastic, His character because he loved people speacilly his fans and he made a lot of charity. Christian — Malta
His looks, obviously, as well as his beautiful voice. he can hit just about any note. Nicky — United States
His voice, his movie, looks. Victoria — Malta
He is a very handsome man and a wonderful voice. Casey — United States
The sweet sound of his voice and the lovely lirics. Stephanie — Canada
His voice and dancing. Billy — United States
Unique vocals, very charismatic voice. Chris — Canada
His voice and dancing. Billy — United States
He has a very strong and powerful voice that makes you want to hear more. Marie — United States
His wonderful voice, good looks and he moves. Christine — Australia
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