It could be said that in the magnetic charm of personalities like Elvis Presley lay the essence of the term popular culture. For, ultimately those were the kind of personalities that truly defined a culture: electrifying, charming, swinging with the good times. Isn’t that what the 60s and 70s were?
Like a world of their own, unburdened by the cacophony of civil disturbances, racial tensions and unsullied by mounting tensions escalated by the geopolitical crisis, notably – the events at Vietnam.
In the soothing voice of suave stylists like Elvis Presley lay a perfect escape from the haziness of the world. He wasn’t called the king just for nothing. You instantly understand the irrepressible verve of self-confidence in Elvis Presley by recollecting what he’d said when he first hit a recording studio in his life.
When asked gently as to what sort of a voice he possessed, Elvis would hum in his typically stylish voice, “I don’t sound like nobody man”. Indeed, that would be the truth. For no voice- either before him or since him- has been able to match the defining sound that Elvis brought to audiences. He was an epic crooner; he was the titillating comfort women sought in men of dashing and charisma. He would be the baritone in a somber mood and, the pleasantness about a cool, nippy evening.
Better still, the man who gave us stellar hits like Hound-dog, Return to Sender, Blue Suede shoes was quite the man everyone in America wanted to be and the person you’d get attracted to, whether or not you were a music fan.
On his 83rd birth anniversary, we present you 5 rather unknown Elvis Presley facts:
1. He Was Influenced By Gospel
Every artist seeks a source of inspiration- an abiding force that hones his style or form of performing. But where Elvis Presley was concerned, he was inspired by the sound of the gospel. Yes, it was gospel music that inspired the Tupelo-born musical legend.
When he was only two, his mother recounted, as a toddler, Elvis would slide down off her lap and roll over the platform in a church on hearing the sound of the gospel. In his formative years, Elvis would attend all-night gospel singing sessions at Memphis, Tennessee.
2. The Originator Of Rockabilly
Though he never quite owned up the fame that came his way in relation to being credited for the development of a rare, early-days sound of rock and roll- Rockabilly- Elvis cannot be distanced from the development of a sensational craft. A riveting blend of western musical styles such as country and rhythm and blues- Elvis is credited to have inspired the development of this raw, emotive, slurry kind of sound.
3. That Glorious Hairstyle
Every artist has a trademark personality charm or props that sticks by him and through which his celeb-hood is established. Where the Beatles were concerned, it was their similar color-coordinated clothing. Michel Jackson’s trademark was his silk gloves. But for Elvis Presley, it was that fluffy but neatly maintained hair. When on stage, Elvis’ finely groomed black hair made him a stallion every woman wanted to ride. But truth be told, Elvis’ natural hair color had always been brown. He would dye his hair to add to his starry appeal.
4. Heartbreak Hotel
There possibly can be no true die-hard Elvis Presley fan who wouldn’t have heard or liked the majestic, ballad-like Heartbreak Hotel- an instant classic that only further shot Elvis’ fame several notches skyward.
But the true inspiration for the song actually occurred to Elvis in the form of a news about someone having committed suicide- a news captured by a local paper in 1956. Few would’ve thought of transforming a bitter incident into a cult hit. Isn’t it?
5. Song-Writing? Not Quite.
Throughout his enigmatic career- Elvis was responsible for – over if not less than 600 hypnotic numbers. His voice became the fluid undercurrent of America in the 60s and 70s and his trademark style- well-groomed mane, long sideburns, dark glasses, sparkling shoes and trendy jackets- more of a cult that the commoner walking down the street aspired to attain.
Whether he was the James Dean of Rock and Roll or the Tom Cruise of Music, critics can debate endlessly, but there was no one who sounded like Elvis at his pomp.
Elvis was a rage of every party, quite essentially the guy every chic wanted to wake up with and quite the dude you wanted in your college gang. He was one of a kind, a rare species that unrivaled attention from either sex. But truth be told, Elvis never wrote a single song in his life that one heard or featured in any of his album.