Elvis – Why he’s the King

Elvis Presley – the King of Rock’n’Roll! Nearly all of you will remember I am currently running a series of articles covering the life of the King. This month, let’s here from some Russian rock’n’roll Stars about why, over 40 years after his death, Elvis is still the King to so many of us.

Roman Lukinykh, Lead Singer with the Russian groups Twenty Fifty and Monkey Folk: Elvis, the phenomenon of pop culture, changed the world of show business forever! He has not been with us for over 40 years, but his albums still come out every year and you hear it – the magic of personality, music and voice!

Sergey Kuteynikov, Leader of the Russian rockabilly group “The Great Pretenders”: For me Elvis is not only one of the best singers of all time, but also was a great dancer. I have been admiring his moves on stage since my childhood. I have copied them to a certain extent in my stage act. That’s one of the important reasons for me to consider him The King.

Marina Vikhreva, Moscow rock’n’roller and dancer. Marina provides here a brief history of the history of the King, followed by his impact on her: Thanks to the internet, today everyone can read, watch, and appreciate Elvis Presley’s talent. He made rock’n’roll popular even though he wasn’t the very first performer in the genre. By blending country and blues, he helped to create a brand new music style called rockabilly. His first records are done in that style. Presley went beyond the rockabilly framework and gained popularity around the world. In 1956, he made his film debut in “Love Me Tender”. During the period 1958-1960, Elvis was enlisted in the U.S. Army. Upon his discharge, he began recording again, then focused on his film career, starring in 31 films and recording twenty soundtracks.

Presley’s first full television concert (1968) was a watershed moment in his career, marking his departure from his musical films’ antiquated style and showing his regained passion for performing. Elvis resumed his concert engagements which became the prevalent feature of his career from that point on; yearly shows in Las Vegas and tours around the U.S. In 1973, the concert “Aloha from Hawaii” was aired globally via satellite.

Prescription drug abuse caused Presley’s depression to deepen and his health to worsen, eventually leading to his death in 1977. Presley’s work has consistently been in demand; overall, more than 1 billion of his LPs have been sold worldwide (including the newest releases of previously unpublished recordings). Presley is the winner of three Grammy Awards (1968, 1973, 1975) and is one of the first musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986).

But what does Elvis Presley mean to me personally? To me, Elvis is an embodiment of the dynamic rock’n’roll music, male charisma and magnificent vocals. His voice charms you and carries you away to the wonderful land of love and tenderness, joy and hope. When I listen to Elvis, it always seems to me that he sings to me alone about his love and his dreams. His music goes straight to my heart. And even though he’s no longer among us, his presence seems completely real, as if he’s just about to give you a hug and twirl you in an electrifying dance, looking into your eyes and calling you the most wonderful names.

Elvis’ music might appear overly simple and unsophisticated but our lives are made of those very simple, easily understandable things – love, kindness, faith, joy, honesty and fidelity. This is exactly what Elvis sings about in his songs – “Take my hand, take my whole life too”. He wants to love and be loved thoroughly and completely. This is why women like him so much; he sings about how Women are beautiful, loved and desired. Isn’t this exactly what we want to hear and feel from the men in our lives?

Also, I like how tenderly he treated his mother and gave her the legendary pink Cadillac-Fleetwood-60. This was a magnificent gesture. Millions of women in the U.S. raised their sons, hoping they’d become rich and famous some day just like Elvis and would be able to give them the same kind of present. The Cadillac was originally in blue and black colours. However, since Elvis wanted to give it to his mother as a gift, he wanted the Cadillac to be a happier, gentler colour. An artist neighbour suggested to Elvis repainting the Cadillac pink. He developed a unique colour recipe and called it Elvis Rose. At present, the Cadillac is on display in the auto museum at Graceland.

Elvis’ passionately performed songs make you want to live, sing, dance and love. They are a good cure for depression. How sad and painful it is that the magical Elvis, the King of rock’n’roll loved by millions, was himself greatly afflicted by this disease and lived for just 42 years. He is like a sun which brightened and continues brightening the lives of a great many people. And, of course, we would also love to believe in the Legend that the King of rock’n’roll is alive! This is probably why, even 40 years from now, on the musician’s birthday, someone will spot a grey-haired man in the crowd and be certain the 84 year-old Presley has come to take a peek at the festivities in his honour!

Oleg Ivanin, Lead Guitarist of the Russian rockabilly group “The Great Pretenders”: To begin with, I will give an excerpt from an article about Elvis from the “Soviet Times”. It was written back in 1971, in a staunch pro-Communist Russian magazine, at a time when the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West was in full swing; “Let’s start with rock’n’roll, which in turn began with theft. More precisely, with theft and falsification, because American show business stole it from the protest music of American blacks, which was the original rock’n’roll, turned it into a fashionable rhythm and, throwing out the original texts, accompanied the new rhythm with meaningless or half-sense verses.”

Now of course it’s clear in retrospect that a mentally ill person must have written this! Now, on to Elvis; When I was a schoolboy, my classmate (his father was a diplomat) brought to school an LP record with a big photo of Elvis on the cover. I was amazed how young and handsome Elvis Presley was! You see, in the Soviet times we not only did not hear his music, but did not even know what he looked like!

Many Thanks Roman, Sergey, Marina and Oleg, for your personal stories about the King. The story will continue, with two more special people explaining why Elvis is someone unique to them. One will tell you a story which would make it difficult for you to find someone else whose early life was affected more by Elvis. And the second is the one they call the Russian Elvis. Stay tuned!

And to round off the Elvis theme this month, maybe this is just a symptom of my crazy rock’n’roll mind, but how many of you will remember the following lyrics ? When I was young, there was a song in the hit parade called “There’s a guy works down the chip shop” by Kirsty McColl. The chorus began, “There’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis. And he’s a liar and I’m not sure about you.” They sure don’t write lyrics like that any more !

Richard Hume