Singing About Elvis: The Musical Influence Of The King

by Amy Gold

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley stars in the movie,"Jailhouse Rock," 1957.

Songs about Elvis Presley are more numerous than you might think. Such is the influence of the man who became known as "the King of Rock and Roll," or simply "the King, that musicians of all styles and races continue to claim him as an influence and pay tribute to him in songs of their own.

Born in a tiny house in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1935, Elvis Aaron Presley was a doted on only child who formed a particularly close bond with his mother, Gladys. From his humble beginnings he formed a deep appreciation for the music of his Southern roots. By the time he was a child in elementary school he was already impressing friends and teachers alike with his vocal abilities.

As he matured into a teenager, both his musical interest and ability began to develop as well. He became enamored with the earthy sounds of rhythm and blues and the sentimental, spiritual feel of gospel music. He listened to black performers on the radio and at local venues and began to incorporate their style into his own. He would, in turn, become a lasting influence for generations of artists who have produced many songs about Elvis Presley.

He began his career in 1954 when he appeared at the offices of Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. He impressed Sun owner Sam Phillips, who was looking for a way to bring the unique sound of African American music to a wider audience. In this handsome young white man, Phillips recognized the perfect avenue to bridge the gap.

Elvis began recording and started making an impact almost immediately. He was one of the originators of the rockabilly sound, a spirited combination of traditional country and rhythm and blues. This not only opened the ears of listeners to a whole new style but opened the doors for a wave of performers who would take the sound to a new level.

By 1956, when "Heartbreak Hotel" became his first number one hit, he was at the forefront of the new sound called "rock and roll. His influence would be felt by millions as his records climbed the charts one after the other, and he sealed the deal with a historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. To this day, songs about Elvis Presley pay tribute to his status as a true groundbreaker.

Over the years, Elvis Presley's music has become known and loved the world over, with generations singing along to his songs. Some of those songs, translated into other languages, have become tributes to the man himself, speaking of his status as a true icon of rock and roll.

There is only one King, only one artist who is so universally acclaimed that generations born after his tragic death in 1977 can still recognize him by one simple name: Elvis. There will never be another like him and likely no other artist who could inspire so many hits.

Hundred of songs about Presley have been recorded over a period of over half a decade, starting from his rapid rise to fame in the mid 1950s to well into the new millenium. The following is a list of chart hits recorded both before and after Presley's passing that pay homage to the great pop music icon. (The years listed below are when the songs debuted on the charts.)

Tributes

In these songs, Elvis Presley is the main subject, although he is not always mentioned explicitly by name.

Graceland

Presley's famous abode is either the main topic or made mention of in these songs.

Memphis

Presley's hometown is featured prominently in this song.

Song references, by first name

In these songs, Presley is referred to by his first name at least once.

Song references, by full name

In these songs, Presley's full name is mentioned at least once.

Song references, as "the King"

In these songs, Presley is referred to by his famous moniker at least once.

Song references, other

In this song, Presley is referred to as the "boy from Tupelo."

Elvis Presley Sound-Alikes

There have been many Elvis impersonators over the years, but there were only a handful of singers whose true styles were actually very similar to that of the King - and one of them was a woman.