Elvis Presley was an icon in the music industry. He ruled the American music industry for years, and his music stayed with the pop culture forever. According to the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley’s music made rock ‘n’ roll common throughout the world and made it the international language of pop everywhere.
He is also referred to as the king of music in the 20th century, who changed the course of American music forever. His music, along with his style, clothing, and dance moves, became the standard definition of rock and roll. He was the first one who dared to mix up various music genres and came up with a beautiful tone that hit the right spot.
His music was largely influenced by African-American blues, Southern country music, and the Christian gospel. The greatest thing about Presley’s music was the fact that it was just country, pop, black, or white music; it was just different – something that the teens of those times related with. A little rebellious and a little sad but incredibly catchy – that is how Presley’s music was.
Impacts of Elvis Presley on American Culture
Elvis Presley was nothing less than a steamroller in the American music industry. The industry had never seen anyone like him. He was the icon that brought everyone together. His music knew no racial bounds, and his piano and guitar had such a magical effect on the audience.
His rock ‘n’ roll music combined with his hillbilly country swag resulted in an entirely new form of music called rockabilly. This was an iconic time when a new subgenre of rock evolved – paving the way for numerous other variations of music in the future.
2. Demolished Racial Segregation
Elvis shattered the not-so-covert social and cultural wall that segregated black Americans from the white supremacists. He openly showed his inspiration from some great black artists that he looked up to. He expressed his gratitude to some great names in the music industry, such as B.B King, Ivory Joe Hunter, and Fats Domino.
He had hired a brilliant African-American songwriter, which was also a cause of a significant shift in the music industry. He became the living example of promoting equality. Musicians who followed Elvis admired him for his efforts to demolish racial segregation and paid tributes to him to open a door for black music to be integrated into the mainstream music industry.
3. Rebel Religious Groups
Another most significant change that Elvis brought in the American culture was the ruffling feathers of the religious groups. Although all the three Grammy awards he won were for his gospel work, religious groups in America were seriously concerned about the rebellious culture Elvis’s music promoted in youngsters. His choice of fashion and sexually charged performances, especially his famous pelvic thrusts, made him emerge as a pariah.
The most shocking and perhaps disturbing for the elders at that time was the electrifying effect Presley used to have on his audience. The crowd used to go crazy and behaved in the strangest ways possible. They would scream, hyperventilate, and go into convulsions when ‘Hound Dog’ began. Elvis’s performances were termed as out of this world. Do you see how rock stars perform these days with their head-banging and screaming? You can thank Elvis for setting this standard.
4. Changed the Musical Taste of Many People
Elvis rose to fame when the American music industry was fraught with rhythm and blues only. So, the moment Elvis’s music hit the records and stores, people were ready to spend their fortunes on his records.
5. Freedom of Sexual and Moral Compass
One of the most important cultural impacts that Elvis left on the American culture is freedom of sexual and moral compass. He challenged the purity culture and normalized being the sexually fantasized one. He was loved by the young women, and this is where old American culture was challenged.
Elvis was an iconic singer, and more than that, he was the personification of sexual attraction. Unlike Bill Haley, who gave an older-brother vibe, Elvis Presley’s devilishly handsome looks and raw sexuality challenged the American culture. Parents disapproved of him for their young daughters, and some guys were even jealous of him as he was an all-in-one package.
Elvis Presley was also an embodiment of danger to the security of the country’s culture. His dance moves were compared to strip-tease ones, and his concerts were termed as rebellious. Parents of teenaged girls were frightened to send their daughters to his concerts as he was considered rebellious.
A juvenile court of Jacksonville, Florida, 1956, even called out to warn Presley about his moves in any concert as his pelvic thrusts and body motion were considered sexually arousing. It was a revolutionary period for American culture. Their values changed due to Presley’s music and personality.
6. Had a Cult Following
If only Elvis could run for the President of youth in America during his fame, he would have won fair and square. Elvis Presley had a cult following, which helped him shape the cultural change in America. Youngsters worshipped him and followed him like a cult. When owing to his controversial dance moves, the municipal politicians began saying no to allowing his concerts in their jurisdiction, a sea of teens would emerge out of nowhere and pile up in cars to see him wherever he was allowed to perform.
Adult radio presenters refused to play his songs on their programs as his songs were considered wicked and devilish. However, once again, the youth came forward and showed their power as they dropped the ratings of such programs and tuned to other stations that played Presley’s music. Hence, we can say that America truly witnessed the power of the youth during the era of Elvis Presley.
Elvis Presley’s name and fame have never witnessed a downfall. His face and style are still easily recognizable by his fans, and he is impersonated in numerous forms. Many look-alikes have also tried their luck in earning fame and money by impersonating Elvis.
If you want to gauge how significant an impact Elvis left on the American culture, you can see numerous traditions that are still carried out in his memory. A candle lighting is held annually in Memphis, Tennessee, at his house on August 15th in his honor.
A concert named “nostalgia concert” is also held every year by musicians who had worked with him. He is paid tribute by several singers whom he inspired. Moreover, Presley was known to be a big fan of karate. Therefore, Elvis Presley Memorial Tournament (a Karate Tournament) is organized to let his fans enjoy something that he loved. More than 500 competitors take part in this annual tournament.