Elvis Presley and Rock and Roll Essay

Elvis Presley had thousands, if not millions, of followers across America at the height of his career in the music industry.

Some people say his charisma brought him a legion of fans while others say the music that he played is simply too irresistible to the ears. Whatever the case, the popularity of Elvis brought rock and roll closer to the hearts and attention of many regardless of whether they were devoted fans or fierce critics. Elvis changed the landscape of the music industry in the past and those changes were eventually carried into the present generation.

Some of those changes paved the way for a more comprehensive understanding of rock and roll and its roots. However, some of those changes also led to several negative influences in today’s music scene. Elvis radically altered the course of music history by putting rock and roll on center stage. Today, rock and roll music continues to be an influential force in the music industry. Part of the process of Elvis making rock and roll a portion of mainstream music—intentionally or otherwise—is that it also led to a rise in the interest of the roots of rock and roll, which are the blues and jazz music genres (Fink, p.

138). Had it not been for Elvis, we might not be having a full awareness or at least awareness to a certain extent of blues and jazz. Or probably worse, without Elvis, the rich heritage of blues and jazz music might have not survived the years and might have simply got lost in time. Of course, that is not to say that Elvis alone should be credited for the contemporary presence of blues and jazz—even rock and roll. Rather, the point is that Elvis played a major role in letting blues, jazz and rock and roll genres persist through the many decades.

Unfortunately, some of the changes brought forth by the popularity of Elvis and the music that he played were negative or were seen in a negative light at the least. The most common stereotype generally attributed to rock and roll music is the lifestyle of those who have sworn with their lives to live the music. The “rock and roll lifestyle,” as most people put it, is typically viewed as a life lived in terms of three core aspects: sex, drugs and rock and roll (Inglis, p. 62). Apparently, the rock and roll part of the lifestyle is easily seen through the music.

However, the inclusion of sex and drugs in that lifestyle has give rise to several issues. One of those issues is the belief that drug addiction or dependency has become an integral part of the rock and roll lifestyle. For instance, some of the rock and roll legends like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, among others, are known to have been users of prohibited drugs. Through the years and after countless other rock and roll icons, the rock and roll lifestyle eventually became tied with drug use.

Moreover, icons of rock and roll are known to have a number of partners in life, some of them even entering into extramarital affairs. One famous example is Eric Clapton who had an affair with the wife of George Harrison. Sex became the name of the game for several other rock and roll musicians which stems from the belief that icons in the music industry have the so-called “sex” appeal before the eyes of those who adored them. The influences of rock and roll have been far-reaching.

It can hardly be denied that Elvis Presley had a significant role in all of those influences that have transcended time more than anything else. Had it not been for Elvis—a monumental icon tirelessly followed around by bevies of girls—the rock and roll lifestyle and the benefits reaped by today’s generation of music enthusiasts would have been entirely different than it is today. It might have been far better or far worse, the answer to which no one can really tell for certain.

Apart from that, another interesting thing about the changes Elvis brought as a legacy, perhaps an unsolicited one at that, is that they have varying meanings to different people and to the society in general. Some people who know the negative sides to rock and roll still cling to the music despite having full knowledge of its dark sides. The fiercest contemporary critics of rock and roll may even point out that rock and roll as we know of it today is a bane to the minds of people, influencing their behaviors negatively.

In the American society, however, rock and roll remains a stronghold in the music industry to the point that awards are given to so-called “legends” in recognition of their contributions to music. One of these award-giving bodies is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, a nonprofit organization that continues to uphold rock and roll music as a central part of the American society to this day. Not only have the shifts between the old and the contemporary rock and roll music and lifestyle impacted the society; they have also contributed to our very idea of modern culture.

The image of Elvis continues to thrive today, proof of which is the fact that his physical image is one of the most easily recognizable—not to mention profitable—images in American culture. Other people imitate the way he looks, talks and sings. Various American television shows have sought to incorporate his profile into their episodes, from cartoons to comedy acts (Duffett, p. 396). There are hundreds of debates about the influence of Elvis Presley, yet not one of them can deny the fact that he and his music changed many different things about the public’s perception of rock and roll which, at this point in time, still linger.

Works Cited

Duffett, Mark. “Caught in a Trap? Beyond Pop Theory’s ‘Butch’ Construction of Male Elvis Fans. ” Popular Music 20. 3 (2001): 395-408. Fink, Robert. “Elvis Everywhere: Musicology and Popular Music Studies at the Twilight of the Canon. ” American Music 16. 2 (1998): 135-79. Inglis, Ian. “Ideology, Trajectory & Stardom: Elvis Presley & the Beatles. ” International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 27. 1 (1996): 53-78.

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