January 8th is Elvis Presley’s 83rd birthday, also known as the King’s 83rd birthday. What makes Presley of all people, the King? You could argue that later in time, and even during his own time, that there were people and groups more deserving of the title. The Beatles, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, and many more have debatably had careers just as successful as that of Presley, therefore why were they not deemed the Kings? The answer is rather simple; Presley embodied the very being of a revolution that is still felt in music today.
To start off, the man had one of the most legendary music careers of all time. He was nominated or won just under 300 music awards over his 19 year career. As of today, he has sold over one billion records. Even in death, Presley’s musical career continues to flourish.
Go Google 1950s rock and roll artists. Look at the groups and people: The Flamingos, Little Anthony and the Imperials, The Coasters, The Four Seasons, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Four Tops, Ben E King, etc. All of these groups and people share a common thread, yet they all lack the great quality that Presley possessed: rebellion.
All of the previously mentioned groups were known to wear the classic suit: white shirt with a black tie. They more closely resembled your everyday accountant rather than a bunch of rock stars. Their songs epitomized the culture of America during the 50s: women in the kitchen, married at 22, and success is achieved by following the rules. They wrote about long nights with loved ones and how to punish the little rebel that is your son.
Then there was Elvis Presley. The man drove a bright pink Cadillac, the symbol of success in America at that time. Presley understood that success wasn’t necessarily defined by having a good investment plan, through a steady job, or paying attention in school. He did it by having a good time, and by doing all the things youths were not supposed to do. He danced like a mad man, provocatively thrusting his hips.. His songs were the essence of being young and rebellious.
Additionally, whenever Presley took the stage, he was on his own. There were no other singers around to harmonize with. There was no group that he could say he was a part of. It was just him. This was extremely different from many other bands/ and singers during this time. Since there were no other members, no one else you could put the praise on. So when the curtains opened, Presley was always front and center.
Most of his songs were less Jazz and other rock and roll guitar like. The things that separated more were song titles and themes. The man wrote a song titled, “Jailhouse Rock”, which you can guess is about going to Jail (so did Johnny Cash, but he was a country singer). He also wrote songs such as, “Hound Dog”, “In the Ghetto”, and “Blue Suede Shoes”. Songs about young men doing the wrong things, acting ungentlemanly. These men would sometimes succeed, other times not and sometimes would even end up dead. But hey, if it had to end, there is no better way than going out than with a bang
The reason why this is all so important is that music has followed this ever since. Pink Floyd, AC/DC, David Bowie, Bon Jovi, Eurhythmics, Nirvana, Smash Month, Tupac, Kendrick Lamar, (among thousands of others) all follow this rebellious theme. These groups are constantly singing about the rebel, or the unconventional one. That these people, that person, or these groups are the ones who fight against the established culture or institution on a quest for righteousness. With all showing how a good time and a good life is with more than the approval of the masses.
They all themselves are riding their own pink Cadillacs. This whole rebellious revolution started with a man who loved for his fried PB and Banana. The first guy who said the establishment might not be right, your teacher might not be right, your parents might not be right. You are right. You are right! Continue your journey to the end. Whether it be about money, sports, or girls; continue your journey my friend because you are the only one that can and that should.