My Ode To The King of Rock N’ Roll: Elvis Presley

When most people think of Elvis Presley, they think sideburns, Jailhouse Rock, corny movie star, the Vegas showman, or fried peanut butter sandwiches. But who was the king really? When I think about it, he’s a star through and through; he was the first of his kind and honestly the last of a kind. He embodies a rock star because that is who he was destined to be. 

Growing up around the sound of his voice as it narrated my life into what it is today, I had the privilege of having the king around me through song. My love for Elvis travels deep into my family, from my grandparents to my parents and then into me.

Elvis began his life as an only child from a poor family in Louisiana. With the rise of the radio and music in the 40s and 50s, Elvis flourished in every genre he could get his head around. Growing up in a religious family, he was surrounded by gospel music and blues from Black artists of the time. 

It wasn’t until he was 18 years old and training to be an electrician that he finally made a record. He went into Sun Records and recorded “My Happiness” for his mother’s birthday in 1953. When asked “who do you sound like” by the secretary at Sun Records, he replied, 


  “I don’t sound like nobody, ma’am.” 


He walked into that recording studio a nobody, and by 1955 he met the Colonel—the man that would take his career to the next level.  

In the following year, Elvis made his first hit record: Elvis Presley, his first television debut, and his first film—“Love Me Tender.” From the beginning of his career, Elvis was veered upon by the parents of the 50s and idolized by the generation of teenagers growing up during the decade. 

Thanks to his new manager Colonel Tom Parker’s marketing skills, his stardom snowballed into something bigger. Soon the Colonel emerged as a father figure to Elvis but at the same time a very controlling figure over Elvis’s career and what it would become. 

Although he always wanted to be a movie star during the late 50s into the 60s, Elvis’s acting career evolved into a more campy type-casted role. He wanted to be a serious actor; despite this, the Colonel signed him onto the same movies because they would sell out. Everyone knows if they placed Elvis in a movie, his fans would flock to the theatres just because it was Elvis. So the king was lost within a sea of decisions being made for him, not by him. 

He didn’t tour or perform for over seven years during this time, and it wasn’t until the 1968 Comeback Special did Elvis finally get to do what he loved: perform. As he walked onto the small stage for the first jam session, the anxiety just melted off of him. And he transformed into the king we love. 

During the 70s, his career once again took a turn. The Colonel had Elvis touring Las Vegas constantly. It is said the Colonel was technically not an official U.S. citizen, so if he left the country, there was the danger he wouldn’t be let back in. As a result, Elvis was never allowed to tour Europe and Asia as he dreamed. He was separated from his long-time partner and wife Priscilla Presley and their daughter. He was isolated, medicated, and lost. Regardless of his personal life, his fans still loved him. 

During another loop of performances in Las Vegas, Elvis took a break, and it was on this break he died at his home in Graceland. He left behind his daughter Lisa-Marie and Priscilla Presley and the thousands of fans who watched his ascent and descent in the Rock n’ Roll dynasty. 

 It is important to remember that Elvis was a real person who made mistakes. But when we think about his career, he was a trailblazer. Before Elvis, there were no fangirls or merchandising for singers; there were no singers who also starred in movies. And rock n’ roll did not exist. He has raised generations of children and teens and continues to influence thousands to never give up. To this day, he is cemented into pop culture for his brilliance and creativity. 

Recently Baz Luhrmann announced the Elvis biopic in theaters on June 24, 2022. This wave of excitement has brought the king back in a new light, with Austin Butler starring as Elivs himself and Tom Hanks playing Colonel Parker. Needless to say, I have something to look forward to this summer! 

In his lifetime, Elvis recorded over 700 songs, starred in 54 films, and performed 1,684 shows by the age of 42. The only way this much life can be summed up is by the king himself: “I wish, I just wish, that everybody could know the same kind of happiness I’ve known from all this. I wish that, more than anything, with all my heart.”