I tend to agree with this review of Elvis’ influence on Rock ‘n Roll history. His impact continues to be felt today, with countless re-editions of his work, his films continuing to sell, and multitudes of other artists covering his music. He is a global icon of popular culture and marks a turning point, perhaps the turning point of rock music entering the mainstream. In both form and function, Elvis was a force that was impossible to ignore. People love him and people hate him, but nobody can say that Elvis has not changed the way they view celebrity in the face of popular culture.
The 1950s and 1960s were tumultuous times full of radical change and contested political and racial ideologies. Elvis’ platform intersected the racial and cultural boundaries through his incorporation of the subversive ‘black music’ into the popular ‘white’ arena of rock music. Thanks to his striking appearance and sexual innuendo, R&B music infused the rock elements of the electric guitar to reach a massive audience that hangs on his every lyric and hip thrust until this day.
In addition to the points articulated in the review, I argue that Elvis transcended the realm of music and film to become a global icon with lasting power thanks in large part to his premature death. His legend grew as all of the different rumors surrounding his demise gesticulated, just as his contemporaries who met a similar fate, such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison. Elvis will forever go down in the history books as the turning point in Rock ‘n Roll history where the subversive became popular.