Elvis Presley Biography Analytical Essay

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In the morning of August 16th, 1977, the whole world had lost a living legend. Elvis Presley known as the King of Rock and Roll died of a fatal heart attack from the constant use of drugs. According to Leonard Bernstein, a legendary composer and conductor of the New York Philharmonic, “Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century.” Elvis Presley was a man with a gifted talent to bring people together with his exuberant flair and tenacity on the stage, making a great performance for all his fans.

Early Life

Born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi. Elvis Presley was brought up from humble beginnings being born in a two-bedroom shotgun house built by his father. He was born with a twin brother, but the infant was stillborn. Growing up he became really close with his parents and attended Assembly of God church. The church was actually a big influence why Elvis Presley was inspired to be a musician. His first encounter with a singing contest was in first grade at his elementary school.

Elvis Presley sang a song called “Old Shep” by Red Foley to his schoolteacher who later influenced him and his parents to sign up for the Mississippi/Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. For the performance, Elvis Presley was fitted as a cowboy and placed fifth in the singing competition. Amazed by what their son was capable of the parents decided to buy Elvis a guitar for his birthday. However, like many other kids, Elvis wanted a bicycle or a rifle. In getting his guitar, Elvis had two uncles that would agree on how to teach him to play the instrument.

In 1946 Elvis attended middle school and was considered as an outcast to many kids. They would accuse him of singing and playing hillbilly music. Besides being ridiculed in class for his choice of music, he joined the local station WELO playing on the Mississippi Slim’s show. Elvis got to be part of this station because Slim’s little brother went with him to school. In 1948, the Presley family moved to Memphis, Tennessee and again Elvis was drilled by his teachers for not being a good singer.

However, Elvis with all his tenacity walked into class the next day guitar in hand and played “Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers Off Me” to silence the teacher with her sinister remarks towards his music. Eventually his junior year Elvis started to peak in high school. He had his trademark sideburns and greased back hair with rose oil and Vaseline. Wearing his famous clothing style of the Memphis Blues theme at the Lansky Brothers clothing store. Elvis had gained confidence over the years and learned to shelter his stage fright.

Making it easier for him to perform shows on the Lauderdale courts after school. The interesting part about all his accomplishments growing up and playing music as he did not have much knowledge on how to read music. He played everything by ear and listening to jukeboxes at local record stores. Elvis’s favorite choices were Hank Snow, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Ted Daffan, Jimmie Rodgers, Jimmie Davis, and Bob Wills. Elvis knew when he graduated from high school that singing would become the career for the rest of his life. The fascinating aspect about Elvis was he grew up in a predominantly black area, so he never really saw different races.

Because of growing up with black people he had been influenced by their spiritual music. At his church in Memphis, he fell in love with the voice of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Besides Sister Rosetta, he was heavily influenced by African Americans Arthur Crudup and Rufus Thomas. Famous upcoming African American musicians for rhythmic blues and southern spiritual music. Also, B. B. King remembered Elvis before he became popular because he also used to go to the same Lansky Brothers clothing store.

Claim to Fame

August 1955 Presley released a record that was considered one of his greatest records “Mystery Train.” Many southerners jumped on the bandwagon of Elvis Presley and his music style. He would perform regional roadhouses, clubs, and radio performances. Eventually, as Elvis worked his way up the rankings he had his management turned over to Colonel Tom Parker, a country music hustler. Because of Parker Presley’s name became bigger by selling song catalog and recording contract to big city music industries like New York City. A few of them were Hill and Range and RCA Victor.

Once Elvis became a familiar face in RCA studios he later stationed himself in Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville was the city of music with a huge group of musicians like Moore, Black, and Fontana. While in Nashville he created big hits like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Love Me Tender,” and “All Shook Up.” All these songs were produced and recorded through 1956 and 1958, the era where Elvis completely dominated the top charts of Rock and Roll. He opened doors for many upcoming rock stars of both races which are amazing for one man to accomplish. His appearances on many television shows led to great success. The Ed Sullivan show gave Elvis the most creditability since it was the biggest audience seating for live shows.

Besides music, Elvis had movies and vehicles that has his name or influence within them. it was practically accepted anything Elvis did was going to be a hit with his fans. Elvis became a huge profitability for many companies, agencies, and industries. “Presley became the teen idol of his decade, greeted everywhere by screaming hordes of young women, and, when it was announced in early 1958 that he had been drafted and would enter the U.S. Army, there was that rarest of all pop culture events, a moment of true grief.

More important, he served as the great cultural catalyst of his period. Elvis projected a mixed vision of humility and self-confidence, of intense commitment and comic disbelief in his ability to inspire frenzy. He inspired literally thousands of musicians initially those like-minded Southerners, from Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins on down, who were the first generation of rockabillies, and, later, people who had far different combinations of musical and cultural influences and ambitions. From John Lennon to Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan to Prince, it was impossible to think of a rock star of any importance who did not owe an explicit debt to Presley Beyond even that, Presley inspired his audience. “It was like he whispered his dream in all our ears and then we dreamed it,” said Springsteen at the time of Presley’s death.

You did not have to want to be a rock and roll star or even a musician to want to be like Elvis which meant, ultimately, to be free and uninhibited and yet still a part of the everyday. Literally millions of people an entire generation or two defined their sense of personal style and ambition in terms that Elvis first personified. As a result, he was anything but universally adored. Those who did not worship him found him despicable (no one found him ignorable).

Preachers and pundits declared him an anathema, his Pentecost ally derived hip-swinging stage style and breathy vocal asides obscene. Racists denounced him for mingling black music with white (and Presley was always scrupulous in crediting his black sources, one of the things that made him different from the Tin Pan Alley writers and singers who had for decades lifted black styles without credit). He was pronounced responsible for all teenage hooliganism and juvenile delinquency. Yet, in every appearance on television, he appeared affable, polite, and soft-spoken, almost shy. It was only with a band at his back and a beat in his ear that he became “Elvis the Pelvis” (Britannica).

Military Life

“During his active military career, Mr. Presley served as a member of two different armor battalions. Between March 28 and September 17, 1958, he belonged to Company A, 2d Medium Tank Battalion, 37th Armor, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. During this assignment, he completed basic and advanced military training. Mr. Presley’s overseas service took place in Germany from October 1, 1958, until March 2, 1960, as a member of the 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 32d Armor. For the first five days of that period, he belonged to Company D of the battalion, and thereafter to the battalion’s Headquarters Company at Friedberg. While in Germany Mr. Presley wore the shoulder sleeve insignia of the 3d Armored Division” (History).

Music Style

As stated before Elvis was heavily influenced by southern gospel music at the beginning of his life. However, as he became famous he was of course known for Rock and Roll, but it still had a similar influence of that southern charm. When Elvis sang it sounded very persuasive or raw. It had the feeling of provocation that emphasized the rhythmic blues. ‘Elvis Presley has been described variously as a baritone and a tenor. An extraordinary compass- the so-called register-, and a very wide range of vocal color have something to do with this divergence of opinion.

The voice covers two octaves and a third, from the baritone low-G to the tenor high B, with an upward extension in falsetto to at least a D flat. Presley’s best octave is in the middle, D-flat to D-flat, granting an extra full step up or down. Call him a high baritone. In ‘It’s’now or never’, (1960), he ends it in a full voice cadence (A, G, F), that has nothing to do with the vocal devices of Rhythm and Blues and Country. That A-note is hit right on the nose, and it is rendered less astonishing only by the number of tracks where he lands easy and accurate B-flats.

Moreover, he has not been confined to one type of vocal production. In ballads and country songs, he belts out full-voiced high G’s and A’s that an opera baritone might envy. He is a naturally assimilative stylist with a multiplicity of voices – in fact, Elvis’ is an extraordinary voice, or many voices’ Henry Pleasants, in his book ‘The Great American Popular Singers’ (1974).


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Elvis Presley Biography Analytical Essay. (2021, Jul 27). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/elvis-presley-biography/

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