The King of Rock’n’Roll
24 Mar 2015
He is Elvis Aaron Presley, a drape suited, tight trousered young man of 21 and the sight and sound of him drives teenage girls wild. All through the south and the west Elvis is packing Theatres, fighting off shrieking admirers , disturbing parents, puckering the brows of psychologists, and filling letters to the editor columns with cries of alarm and from adolescents, counter cries of adulation. This is how the TIME of May 14, 1956 described the great maestro and King of Rock’n’Roll Elvis Presley at a time when he was mesmerising audiences with his performances and had opinions divided over his ability and potential as a musician. Today we take a glance down the corridor of time to learn a great lesson from the King of Rock’n’Roll
Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and it is said that he received a guitar from his parents when he was a child. It seems his start was a bit slow as he only played the guitar casually and not very well for a long time, and sang at church but not much elsewhere. The story goes that one day he “was seized with the urge to hear his own voice, took his guitar with him and made a recording in a public studio.” He had been working as a truck driver at the time, but the studio engineer thought he had an interesting voice and called him back to record more.
While the Studio Engineer saw the immense potential in Elvis many listeners were slow to catch on and responded with some rather mean contributions to the press.
The following letters appeared in the June 4 issue of TIME:
For heaven’s sake, leave Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe to the pulp magazines. They are both utterly nauseating.
MRS. FRANCIS McGUIRE
There must be some error, since in your May 14 issue I find Elvis Presley in the Music section. What does that idiotic howling have to do with music—except the fact that it is on records? Seems to me, the attitude to take would be one of ignoring the whole noise, hoping it will go away.
ARVYDAS BARZDUKAS Cleveland
Don’t worry—we all haven’t gone to the dogs! I’m a redblooded, American, teen-age girl, and I think he’s ghastly!
JUDITH TURICK Los Angeles
That “Hi luh-huh-huh-huuv yew-hew” article: Are you sure that fellow’s real name isn’t Pelvis Presley?
ROBERT E. JORDAN Seattle
Despite the challenges of his early days, despite the criticism that he encountered as evidenced by the letters above Presley turned out to be one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the 20th century. Commercially successful in many genres, including pop, blues and gospel, he is the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music, with estimated record sales of around 600 million units worldwide. He won three Grammys, also receiving the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36, and has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame. Forbes named Elvis Presley as the 2nd top earning dead celebrity with $55 million as of 2011.
Who would have thought it possible for Elvis to receive such success? I wonder what has happened to those detractors who were bold enough to write such unkind words in the Letters to the Editor Column. Talk about being left with an egg in your face. You see sometimes the best way to propel yourself to success is to close your ears to your critics. You can’t blame them for their ignorance, they can’t see your vision, they can’t feel your passion, they may ridicule you and challenge your reasoning but if you are set on target carry on and pursue your passion with dogged determination. You see there is a reason why the vision that you have is not theirs, it is yours. The fire of passion that burns in your heart is solely yours. Nobody has to understand it, they don’t have to see it neither do they have to believe in it, it is not their vision. But if you carry on you will be putting this affirmation by Winston Churchill into practice, “History will be kind to me. For I intend to write it.”
Lisa Nichols put it aptly when she said “Sometimes you have to be willing to walk by yourself for minute. Your close friends, your man or woman may not get the vision. But if no-one gets your vision that’s ok because God didn’t give your vision to them. He gave it to you”
So go on my friends, write your own history, pursue your dreams, nurture your passions, dream big dreams and take massive action. You will make it even if everything around you says you can’t. You know you can, AND YOU WILL.