Friday, January 08, 2010

Elvis - The King of Rock and Roll


January 8, 1935 - August 16, 1977

Today is the 75th anniversary of the birth of Elvis Presley, husband of Priscilla Presley, father of Lisa Marie Presley and one time father-in-law to Michael Jackson. As I have written before, 32 years after his death Elvis continues to make far more money than he ever did during his 42 years of life, topping $55 million in 2009 alone with an international tour of his music scheduled for 2010.

In his early years the only way we could hear Elvis records in the Bible belt was when friends in the military were stationed in the south and would bring back Elvis recordings. Over time I got to see him twice in concert including during his last tour in 1977. It was June 19 in Omaha, Nebraska and RCA was recording the concert for a new Elvis project. One week later, June 26, he performed his last concert in Indianapolis and died three weeks later.

This much I can tell you. His voice was as powerful as ever that June in 1977 though he appeared to be physically exhausted. There was a certain melancholy in his voice as if he wanted one last time to give his fans what they expected. When he performed his ballets and gospel songs like My Way and The Impossible Dream there was not a dry eye in the auditorium.

Presley almost single-handedly created the genre of rockabilly and rock and roll and he was the first white person to merge the Black blues and gospel with country rock. In 1973 Elvis performed the first global concert via satellite and 1.5 billion people tuned in making it the most watched broadcast by an individual entertainer in history, including to this day.

The dance sequence from his movie Jailhouse Rock has been considered one of the best motion picture dance sequences ever recorded which he choreographed himself and I hope you will take a look at the number on the YouTube video I added. This is the Elvis we will always remember, the shy kid from Tupelo, Mississippi who grew up to become King of the world.

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