The King Says ‘That’s All Right’

Originally posted August 16, 2007

So what else can I do today but share a video of Elvis Presley?

After all, it had been thirty years today since his death, and when one adds up the influence he had on music and popular culture, one comes to a conclusion not far from that penned in the first edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide: “Elvis Presley is by far the most important single figure in the history of rock & roll, and possibly the most important in American popular music, a giant of the modern era.”

It’s true: More than fifty years after Elvis first stepped into the studios at the Memphis Recording Service, it is impossible to assess the state of pop and rock music without taking his large shadow into account. So instead of assessing things today, instead of taking the machine apart to see how it works, I thought we’d just sit back and enjoy.

I looked for a video of Elvis’ early television performances, but those that I could post here seemed either to have studio recordings dubbed over the visuals or were interrupted one way or another. What I came up with is a performance of “That’s All Right,” Elvis’ first hit, taken from the 1968 television special that sparked his late 1960s comeback.

And watching this, There’s a bit of byplay with the band and then the introduction of the band members, but when Elvis finally takes up his guitar, one gets a sense – more so than one can from any of the jump-suited performances of the 1970s – of what the fuss was all about in the mid-1950s.

Revised to accommodate new video, May 6, 2011.

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