We’re approaching another landmark rock and roll anniversary. This Friday marks the 75th anniversary of Elvis Presley's birth. It’s one of those moments that make you wonder what would have happened had he not died so young. Several of Elvis’s contemporaries are alive and still working. What would he have done in the last three decades? Would he have finally toured outside the U.S.? Would he have gone back to making films? Would he have told his story in his own words? I mention that last one because Elvis never sat for an in-depth interview in his life.
There’s a lot of myth surrounding Elvis Presley. So much of it tends to dwell on sensationalism and the myth of myth itself. If you have any interest in finding out more I about him, I strongly urge you to read the books Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love, Peter Guralnick’s extraordinary two-volume biography of Presley. Better yet, listen again to what made Elvis the legend he is, the music. Pick up a copy of Elvis at Sun, the 2004 compilation of his seminal recordings done with Sam Phillips in Memphis between July 1954 and July 1955. Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black may have been simple hillbilly cats to some, but their work here is blistering, even on the ballads. The power and impact of those recordings is still being felt today and will be for decades to come.
Happy Birthday, Elvis. We wish you were here.
Visit the Rock Hall’s permanent exhibit devoted to Elvis which includes more than 40 artifacts that tell the story of the undisputed King of Rock and Roll.