Elvis Presley * 1956


Elvis Presley

Associated Press

For most people, Elvis Presley was rock-and-roll. And they were right. Bill Haley may have made the first massive rock hit, and people such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard may have had an equally important creative impact on this raucous new American art form. But it was Elvis who defined the style and gave it an indelible image. The songs were tough and driving in a time, 20 years ago, when American popular music was still based on Tin Pan Alley tune-smithing. And the image was of a working-class rebel, pushing sex into the nation’s consciousness long before the “sexual revolution.” Presley became the focus for a new kind of youth music, one that swept aside the gentilities of the adult-oriented pop of previous decades and reflected the swelling youth market of the postwar baby boom. — John Rockwell





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