Growing up in Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis Presley was exposed to blues and gospel along with the hillbilly and pop he heard regularly. This informal music education gave him the influences he would need to create some of the very first rock & roll in 1954. An American music giant of the 20th century who singlehandedly changed the course of music and culture in the mid-1950s, Presley used his knowledge of black music to develop a style that was sexy yet innocent, wild yet warm. Working with legendary Memphis producer Sam Phillips, who had already recorded Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, James Cotton and other Mississippi bluesmen, Presley in 1954 cut a version of Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right" (flip side: Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky") that made blues a primary catalyst in the birth of rock & roll. Presley performed the song with uncontrollable passion and urgency. With a faster tempo, a driving rhythm and shimmering vocals that played out teen melodrama, the record set the stage for rock & roll's arrival. Presley would continue to be influenced by the blues throughout his career, always recalling the delicate balance of black and white music that made rock & roll the greatest and most democratic of all American pop forms.
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