Elvis Presley is called the King just like Michael Jackson is known as the King of Pop, but unlike Michael Jackson, Elvis doesn’t deserve his title. The only thing Elvis is King of, is stealing the limelight from other artists who revolutionized rock music.
African-Americans especially are underappreciated in the rock genre, and it’s unfair because they’re the ones who created it. Elvis overshadows other rock artists that were more influential in the evolution of rock music, including John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.
Rock is a broad word to use for a genre that is used to categorize many artists, but it stems from jazz and blues.
Presley released one of his first singles called “Milkcow Blues Boogie,” which came out in 1954. It’s not one of his breakout songs, but it clearly demonstrates that his style was not original at the beginning of his career.
Lee Hooker is iconically known as the “King of the Boogie.” He began using the boogie-woogie sound in the late ‘40s. He’s not the creator, but he revolutionized guitar by playing unconventional 12-bar blues and was creating boogie-woogie and blues music before Presley.
But, there is no rock ‘n’ roll without the guitar, and no guitar without Chuck Berry.
He’s the one responsible for transforming the blues into the rock ‘n’ roll we think of today.
Arguably one of the best blues guitarists of all time, even placing seventh on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time, he is underrated.
Berry’s guitar moves were ahead of his time. On stage, he would hop on one leg while pulling the strings of his guitar in solos. This showmanship and musicality inspired many other greats like Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones and Angus Young of AC/DC.
Berry is the king without a crown. He was the whole package: guitarist and singer-songwriter.
By comparison, Presley could only strum open chords, and didn’t even write all his own songs.
Some of his biggest hits, including “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Hound Dog” were written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller; they wrote a lot of hits for him and others. Presley might as well have been the Justin Bieber of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Richard is another artist that doesn’t get a lot of recognition. Richard has multiple hits including “Tutti Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Lucille.” He could play piano and sing with one leg rested on top of the piano as if he were doing the splits.
His music made people dance, and his voice could reach a wide range of octaves that Presley’s could never do. Presley’s first album consisted of mostly covers, including a cover of “Tutti Frutti.”
The only reason Presley is called the “King” of rock is because of his race. He never had to deal with others covering his songs and stealing his success. For example, Richard would get covered by clean-cut white artists like Pat Boone. White families accepted Boone and would buy his versions of the music. White youth still bought Richard’s records, but had to hide them from their parents.
Presley contributed to rock music, but his contributions are very minimal compared to others. He doesn’t seem to have the same level of talent. His race, good looks and role as an actor kept him relevant and famous.
Americans crowned Presley as the King because it seemed like he had the most success, but it’s obvious that other artists were more supreme. He is credited for introducing white people to rock music, and that may be true, but he wasn’t the best.
It’s time to crown the true rock ’n’ roll legends.