Elvis is known throughout the world as the King of Rock ‘n Roll. Yet he transcended that genre, his musical genius and his magical voice conquering gospel, rhythm and blues, country, rockabilly and even pop. As if that wasn’t enough, he was also a major movie star. Yet Elvis always shied away from that title bestowed upon him by the world: the fans and the media.
One evening in 1965, as I was styling his hair upstairs at Graceland, Elvis and I were talking about certain aspects of his career. We started discussing all the various styles and categories of music that he’s known for. All of a sudden Elvis leaned forward in his chair and said, “Ya know Larry, people call me the king, like I invented rock n’ roll or something. No way man, no way. It all goes way, way back to the days in the old Deep South when the slaves were working and slaving their lives away. I mean those poor old people knew what real pain an’ suffering was all about. They used to sing and pour out their hearts to God just to get through the day. That’s where most of our real gospel music comes from. When the sun came up to when it went down, they sang and made up the words as they went along, in the cotton fields an’ plantations. And their slave music found its way right into their churches; then white folks picked up on it and began singing the slave songs in their own way in their churches. Then music began to change and went beyond the churches and grew into honky-tonk and Dixieland. Then it spread north to St. Louis and Chicago where the blues and jazz took off; then in our times it evolved into rhythm n’ blues then rock ‘n roll. The truth is, I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time - and all I did was to take their music and introduce it to a white audience.”
I remember one night in Las Vegas in December of 1976. We just gotten into the elevator that went up to Elvis’ penthouse at the Hilton International. Two girls ran up and excitedly yelled out, “Elvis you’re the king!” As the doors were closing he smiled and pointed upwards. “There’s only one King. I might be in the saddle but I’m not on the throne.”