Long Live the King: Remembering Elvis
Elvis Presley, the King of Rock n’ Roll, died on August 16, 1977 after becoming a cultural icon and one of the most popular musicians of the 20th century. The genre of his incredibly popular music was a mixture of rhythm and blues and country, which came to be known as rockabilly. In 1956 his song “Heartbreak Hotel” topped the charts and made him the new face of rock n’ roll.
Much of his music has African American roots, with its upbeat, rhythmic tempo, and he was heavily influenced by gospel music. He also reinforced the importance of the guitar by making it the lead instrument instead of the piano. In addition to his music career, he was also had a successful film career, beginning with the film, Love Me Tender.
His unique combination of music styles, as well as his versatility in film was reflected in his fashion. His gabardine suits for on-stage performances were inspired by his love of karate, featuring belts tied to the side and a long-sleeved open neck tunic. His stage costumes are considered a work of art, due to the intricate designs and originality. Off-stage, he was the epitome of 50’s style, wearing high collared shirts, loud suits, bright sports jackets, and flared pants. In films, he ranged from a student (King Creole) to a prisoner (Jailhouse Rock), to a Texas half-Kiowa, half-Texan frontiersman (Flaming Star).
Today, Elvis inspires a multitude of impersonators, and has a devoted fan base. His contributions to the music world integrated African American music into the mainstream, which broke the ice between cultural boundaries. In the realm of fashion, an Elvis inspired style often comes off as retro and vintage. While only impersonators wear his on-stage outfits, his chic off-stage garb can be implemented today to embody a sharp, retro look. Brightly colored flared pants, white shoes, a button down shirt and blazer can be put together fairly easily to incite an Elvis-esque vibe.
If you have no idea who Elvis is, or his contribution to music, you’ve been living in a cave. I implore you to look him up, and take a listen. The website http://www.elvis.com/ should do the trick.
Written By: Mary B.