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How did Elvis effect the music industry?

I am doing a History project on Elvis and one this topic has me stumped. What are a few breakthroughs in the music industry? Like how did he change music?

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    When Elvis passed away a lot of people sensed that there was already a great hole in the American cultural landscape. Elvis had always been there, hovering in the national psyche, his life punctuating our times---his appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, his first movie, the death of his mother, the Army, his marriage, the 1968 "Comeback Special." It seemed inconceivable that Elvis, just 42 years old, was gone. Many parents found Elvis' music dangerously evocative, his movements lewd and suggestive. Elvis, seemed to have sprung on the world without a history. His emergence in the mid-fifties was so sudden, his music so fresh, his personality so evocative that he could not be labeled. People went crazy. There has never been a mania quite like it. Teenagers went wild with excitement; their parents went wild with anxiety over Elvis' overt sexuality. Girls ripped his car apart; they stripped his clothes off; they were ready to rock 'n' roll. Elvis' celebrity was an amazing American phenomenon, and the entire nation was gripped by it. Popular TV variety-show host Ed Sullivan at first found Elvis so shocking he declared he "wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole." Outside the South, the public found him frighteningly uncouth--a redneck from a backward, bigoted region. His music clearly had an affinity with rhythm-and-blues, from black culture. People heard raw jungle rhythms in his music--voodoo doings.

    On the other hand, Elvis swept up marginal groups of people with a promise of freedom, release, redemption; he embodied a yin and yang of yearnings; he took people close to the edge and brought singing talent, he blended all the strains of popular American music into one rebellious voice; like Walt Whitman, he was large--he contained multitudes; he created a style of being that wa so distinctive it could be made into an icon; he violated taboos against personal expression and physicality; he opened the airwaves to risk and trembling. Rock 'n' Roll had been brewing for years, but its defining moment was Elvis.

    Even though he was controversial, his popularity was huge from the beginning, and over the years he became entrenched in American culture. He had eighteen number-one hits in a row; his album of million-selling gold records itself sold a million records; fifty-four million people watched his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, an 82.6% share of the nation's viewing audience. In 1956, the year he became known nationally, he became a millionaire, with ten songs on Billboard's Top 100, more than any other artist in the past. His ascendance from regional star to national star to Hollywood all occurred in an eyeblink. He was a boy wonder, both endearing and threatening, with a talent that defied category. Elvis set in motion a style of music that would dominate the world for the rest of the century. It was the beginning of youth culture--kids got their own record players and radios. It was the breakdown of sexual inhibition, and the end of racial segregation.

    Elvis' success--and the rock 'n' roll revolution--punctured the balloon of 1950s serenity and conformity. America was sunk in its Eisenhower torpor. With its worry about the Soviets and H-bombs, the nation at large seemed desperate for sweet contentment. But race issues were on the boil. The Supreme Court had ruled against segregation in Brown vs. Board of Education only a few weeks before Elvis made his first record in 1954. The time was right for a magical figure to burst forth like a natural symbol of integration. Black musicians praised Elvis for helping their own music to reach a commercial audience. Little Richard, the inimitable purveyor of "Tutti Frutti," said, "I thank God for Elvis Presley. I thank the Lord for sending Elvis to open the door so I could walk down the road, you understand?"

    Later, Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver, in Soul in Ice, credited Elvis with sparking the social revolution of the sixties. Presley "dared to do in the light of day what America had long been doing in the sneak thief anonymity of night--consorted on a human level with the blacks."

    Popular music began to challenge conventional tastes, and music with a beat such as Jerry Lee Lewis' "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and Buddy Holly's "That'll Be the Day"--began to dominate the charts. Because of his suggestive movements onstage, Elvis was called "Elvis the Pelvis," a name that embarrassed him. He was excoriated for lewdness and lasciviousness. One headline called him the "self-winding singer." His hip-swiveling was denounced far and wide, but he professed innocence. He didn't mean anything dirty by it, he said. It was just natural to him to let loose and express what he felt. With his coy lip curl and his playful habit of interrupting his songs to mug or joke, he reminded us not to take him too seriously. Elvis always had a sense of humor about his persona, acknowledging the absurdity of his fame.

    Still, the weight of it affected his performance: his behavior was self-conscious, self-deprecating. Every person who achieves any degree of fame experiences some disorientation, but for Elvis it was unique. In the history of the world, few individuals have had such great success and fame so suddenly, with such far-reaching consequence and with so little preparation for dealing with it. This is a startling thought. How did he bear the burden?

    In wondering whether anyone else has ever experienced this sort of sudden global recognition, I can think only of the astronauts walking on the moon. His 1973 special, Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii, via Satellite, was seen in 40 countries by 1.5 billion people and made television history. It was seen on television in more American homes than man's first walk on the moon.

    Elvis' fame 'happened' to him--not entirely unbidden, but in proportions he had not imagined or sought. He was a dreamer, aspiring to stardom. He wanted to be big. He had seen all the movies, heard the songs, knew where the rewards came from--Hollywood and New York, not Memphis or Tupelo. But his desires outweighed his confidence. And his fame socked him in the face. It was as though Elvis himself had made one giant leap and then the whole earth jumped on him for stepping so fancy--jiggling and hunching and gyrating his leg like a brace drill.

    The test of the popular hero in our age is his struggle against fame. The personal story of Elvis is his private tussle with his public image as the King of Rock 'n' Roll. His tragedy arises from the earnestness of his endeavor to be the superhero he believed he was supposed to be.

    Wow! What a way to affect the music industry!

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  • 1 decade ago

    I am also doing my history project on elvis and am also stuck on this question

    well I can't answer the first one


    he changed music because before there was rock n roll , but with him it sound different . And in a response he made he said that rock n roll was rhythm and blues to him . So before him white people didn't listen to it because only black people sang r&b . So he help introduce r&b to white people on a large scale . He also dressed different from the preppy look of teenagers from that time.

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  • 4 years ago

    Janis was a pioneer, in the sense that she put HER blues and HER rock into HER soul. Literally. I'm a fan and I can't help but wonder how she would've affected today's music AND a lot of our lives. For the better, I think. To hell with all the nay-sayers...

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  • rod85
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    He didn't effect the industry. He affected it.

    He was one of the first rock idols. There were rocking performers before him, but he was a performer that people wanted to both see and hear. The Beatles were better musicians but they respected him as a star and performer. Rock was not readily accepted by polite society but his introduction by Ed Sullivan to mainstream America made him more acceptable to a broad audience.

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  • Ala
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    well he changed the american opinion on rock( before they thought it was a bunch of rubbish) he was also one of the first mega stars followed by the beatles and so on..

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