Had Elvis Presley done nothing else but record "That's Alright, Mama," his place in pop music history would be secure. With his first regional hit, Presley fused rhythm and blues with country, put a handsome white face out front for audiences to see, and in so doing legitimized beat music for white audiences. It is no understatement to call Presley the chief catalyst of the rock-and-roll era. During the 1950s, Presley's records spent a collective 53 weeks in the number one chart position. Only the Beatles can boast similar sales success.
Presley's monumental accomplishments continued until his untimely death in 1977. After a stint in the Army, he spent a decade making profitable but forgettable movies. Then in 1968 he reestablished his artistic relevance with a spectacular television special and several great albums. During the last decade of his career, Presley's live show was the hottest ticket in America. A great singer first and last, Presley was equally adept at raunchy blues, lilting boogie, operatic pop, and country tear-jerkers.