Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rant #309: Elvis Is In This Building

As the 33rd anniversary of Elvis Presley's death approaches on Aug. 16, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland will be honoring the real King of Rock and Roll with an exhibit that looks at the icon when he was a young man.

The museum plans to celebrate its own 15th birthday with a look back at the year Presley turned 21. An exhibit of photos taken of the singer in 1956 by Alfred Wertheimer will open Sept. 13 at the hall.

According to the HoF, the pictures offer a record of a defining period for rock and roll's most enduring figure, showing Presley in public and private poses as he started to break through nationally.

In addition, visitors also will see a new display of nearly 30 Presley artifacts on loan from the Graceland Archives. They include a shirt and belt the singer wore for 1970 rehearsals, and a Memphis, Tenn., proclamation for a 1961 Elvis Presley Day.

I wasn't around in 1956, but the impact of Elvis Presley on popular culture is enormous. I'm sure that when people caught wind of this kid who was singing this new kind of music, they took notice, and probably a lot of kids learned to play guitar and sing when they saw this guy warbling on The Ed Sullivan Show.

He became a national phenomenon, then a global one, and even in this day and age, with the Internet supposedly bringing us all closer together, it is hard to create such a phenomenon today. In today's world, people are too set in their ways to accept somebody as radical as Presley was in his day.

Sorry, Justin Bieber fans.

Sure, there have been pretenders to his throne, including Michael Jackson, who some claim to be the King of Pop. But like people say that current athletes are better than those from years back, Elvis Presley is much like Babe Ruth; many may think somebody today is better, but I seriously doubt these people know what they are talking about.

Nobody can surpass Elvis' numerous Hot 100 singles, nor can anyone ever surpass his across the board popularity that continues to last well beyond his death.

He is truly the King of Rock and Roll. Nobody even comes close.

Sure, he was not perfect. He indulged beyond belief in everything from food to his relationships. He was squeezed for everything he was worth while he was alive, and the same can be said to be true in death.

But can anyone compare to him? Has there been a singer that has captivated the public as he has and still does?

I don't think so.

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