Also known as the “King of Rock N’Roll”, Elvis Presley is a name known to pretty much everyone across the globe. His presence is seen in everything from movies like Viva Las Vegas and Blue Hawaii to dozens of albums and modern-day impersonators around the world. Musicians such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, and The Everly Brothers owe a good deal to Presley’s musical influence. In turn, The King “borrowed” from Blues artists such as B.B. King, Fats Domino, and Ivory Joe Hunter.
Even The King of Rock N’ Roll had some scandals to endure. At the time he was performing, segregation between Blacks and Whites was making it hard for Elvis to present his music since it was seen as a mixture of “Black” and “White” music and took influence from artists of both colors.
Racists in Elvis’ time didn’t appreciate the “intermixing” of the two cultural backgrounds. However, the young generation at the time loved The King’s music, and it began to catch on more and more. Presley and other artists who followed his lead were increasingly seen as the instrument through which the younger generation was “breaking away” from the values of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.
The older generations did not appreciate this miniature “rebellion”, and this caused some to look down badly at this style of music. It could be argued that Elvis set the stage culturally and musically for the “counter-culture” movements of the 1960’s.
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Perhaps one of the most influential artists of modern times, Michael Jackson was also one of the most controversial. The pop and R&B star was the lead singer of the Jackson Five earlier in his life, and then began a solo career in 1971. Some of Jackson’s most famous songs include “Billie Jean”, “Thriller”, and “Dirty Diana.”
Jackson’s album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time, and the song of the same name is one of the most recognizable in the world. The music video for Thriller tells a scary story of reanimated zombies and other things that go bump in the night.
Jackson albums including Bad, Dangerous, and HIStory are also amongst the best-selling in the world. He has multiple Grammy Awards, as well as the Grammy Legend Award, and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The latter of these awards have also been given to the likes of U2’s Bono and pop virtuoso Rihanna.
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The Beatles were a band that was active from 1960-1970, though they only became prominent in the US starting in about 1964. The Beatles were comprised of four young gents from Liverpool; John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr (Born Richard Starkey), and George Harrison. They got their start by performing music at Liverpool, England’s Cavern Club for a time.
The British Invasion
Thanks in part to The Ed Sullivan Show, the Beatles’ music reached the US on February 9th, 1964. This began the influx of music known as the “British Invasion”, where the music of similar bands such as The Animals, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks flooded into the US. The Beatles’ career began with performing romantic songs such as “Eight Days A Week” and “And I Love Her,” though their musical style later slanted towards a more psychedelic rock-style.