John Lennon famously said, “Before Elvis, there was nothing.”
Of course, there was plenty before the Tupelo, Miss., kid with the twitching hips exploded in 1956. But the way Elvis Presley effortlessly blenderized the blues, country, folk, gospel and R&B sounds he’d grown up with was so electrifyingly unique that millions of teenagers like Lennon certainly felt like none of it mattered.
Presley may not have written such indelible hits as “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock,” and he wasn’t celebrated for his abilities as an instrumentalist like such peers as Chuck Berry and Little Richard, but he virtually invented the pop-culture role of rock star.
In a career spanning nearly a quarter century, Presley left behind more than 700 songs, 31 feature films and a track record as a concert performer and Las Vegas showroom draw that in many ways remains unequaled.
More than three decades after his death at age 42, he still holds the records as the artist with the most chart hits (165), the most Top 40 hits (104), the most weeks at the No. 1 position, and the most gold and platinum record awards.
Over the decades, many have challenged his crown, but Elvis remains the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.