Elvis Presley

by Isabelle Candler

How did this musical artist or group change Rock and Roll/Rhythm and Blues forever?

Elvis Presley is the single most signi cant gure in rock and roll history. Elvis com- pletely revolutionized music and his in uence changed the entertainment industry forever. In the 1950’s, the South was heavily racially segregated, but Presley’s music broke past these racial barriers. He allowed African American music to be accessible to white American youth who had never really been exposed to it. Elvis challenged the social and moral values as his music and provocative dance moves created an entirely new generation.

What components of this group made them so appealing in the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s?

Elvis also yielded a strong influence on youth culture. During the 1950s, teenagers had begun to think of themselves as being different from their parents’ generation. Because of the economic prosperity of the period, teens enjoyed a disposable income that they could spend on themselves instead of contributing toward family survival. With that money they dressed themselves in fashions marketed to their age group, went to movies that featured stars of their generation, and listened to music that appealed to them. So it wasn’t a surprise when Presley’s rock ’n’ roll music, his hairstyle, and his fashion sense became a part of this new culture for teenagers. Later in his career, Presley changed his musical style and his personal look to keep up with the times and gain popularity among older audiences. He became a movie star during the 1960s and then returned to live musical performances during the 1970s. Because his career went through so many changes, he was popular with different types of people for different reasons.

Summarize the Roots of Rock “n” roll/Rhythm and Blues:

"Rock and roll emerged as a defined musical style in the United States in the early to mid-1950s. It derived most directly from the rhythm and blues music of the 1940s, which itself developed from earlier blues, boogie woogie, jazz and swing music, and was also influenced by gospel, country and western, and traditional folk music. Rock and roll in turn provided the main basis for the music that, since the mid-1960s, has been generally known simply as rock music. The phrase rocking and rolling originally described the movement of a ship on the ocean, but was used by the early twentieth century, both to describe a spiritual fervor and as a sexual analogy. Various gospel, blues and swing recordings used the phrase before it became used more frequently – but still intermittently – in the late 1930s and 1940s, principally on recordings and in reviews of what became known as rhythm and blues music aimed at a black audience. In 1951, Cleveland-based disc jockey Alan Freed began playing this music style while popularizing the term rock and roll to describe it. Various recordings that date back to the 1940s have been named as the first rock and roll record, including the frequently cited 1951 song "Rocket 88", although some have felt it is too difficult to name one record. Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" is often cited as the first rock and roll record to achieve significant commercial success and was joined in 1955 by a number of other records that pioneered the genre."

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Today, what makes this musical artist or group still popular?

His music and his performance style were transgressive, violating boundaries of race, class, and sexuality that disturbed the adults who assumed the responsibility of enforcing social norms even as it delighted their teen-aged children, defining a generational tension that continues to be one of the driving forces of contemporary American culture.

Elvis top five songs:

  1. It's Now Or Never
  2. Jailhouse Rock
  3. Are You Lonesome Tonight
  4. The Wonder Of You
  5. A Little Less Conversation


1954 - Elvis makes a demo acetate at Sam Phillips' Sun studio.

1955 - Elvis signs a management contract with Hank Snow Attractions, owned equally by Snow and Colonel Tom Parker, who negotiates the sale of Elvis' Sun contract to RCA.

1956 - Elvis' first RCA single, "Heartbreak Hotel," is released, becoming the first Elvis single to sell over 1 million copies, followed by his first album, "Elvis Presley," which goes to No. 1 on Billboard's pop album chart.

1958 March - He is drafted into the U.S. Army and posted to Germany.

1960 - Elvis is discharged from the army in March. He begins filming and recording for his first post-Army movie, his fifth film, "GI Blues," for Paramount.

1968 - His recording career waning, Elvis appears on an NBC television special that becomes widely known as "The '68 Comeback Special."

1969 - Elvis returns to live performances at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, setting attendance records and spinning off his first live album.

1970 - "Elvis, That's the Way It Is," a documentary of Elvis on tour and his 32nd film, opens. He begins wearing the famous jumpsuit and cape outfits on stage.

1973 - Elvis makes television and entertainment history with his "Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii - Via Satellite." It is seen in about 40 countries by 1 billion to 1.5 billion people. The concert album hits No. 1 on the Billboard pop album chart -- his last No. 1 album on that chart.