History, News

Elvis changing the face of country & bluegrass music

Who would have thought that over 40 years ago, a boy from Tupelo, Mississippi, would make an impact on not only the world of rock and roll, but also in country music?  Growing up, he would listen to the sounds of the Grand Ole Opry coming over the radio on a Saturday night and the next morning, hear the soulful sounds of the church choir.  He originally began his singing career with the Sun Records label in Memphis, the same that Johnny Cash would record on.  In fact, both would play several shows together.  Conway Twitty has been noted to have been influence by Elvis Presley, including covering several of his hit songs.  Country music radio was playing his songs early in his career. In fact, Elvis had 40 songs that hit the Top 20 Country Song charts, 11 being #1 hits.

Little Jimmy Dickens noted that when Elvis first performed on the Grand Ole Opry, you could count the number of claps on one hand.  It wasn’t long after that his career exploded.  Elvis sang the slow and then up-tempo version of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”  Monroe changed his version to Elvis’s version and it has become one of the most popular hits in bluegrass music.  After his Opry performance, Elvis debut on the country music radio show, Louisiana Hayride, on October 16, 1954.  He later signed a contract to perform on the show fifty-two more times.

Elvis’s music has been covered over the years by country artists including “Suspicious Minds” by Dwight Yoakam.  He has received many accolades, including the first Golden Hat Award from the Academy of Country Music in 1984 for his influence on country music.  Later in 1998, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  He was the only person inducted in the Rock and Roll, Gospel, and Country Hall of Fame.

Sadly, thirty-two years ago on August 16, 1977, the music stopped.  Elvis Presley passed away, but his fans have kept his memory alive. 

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